The weather is warmer, the sun is brighter, flowers are in bloom, and spring is in the air. Retail experts are expecting a huge boom in brick-and-mortar sales come the spring and summer months since the vaccine rollouts are making consumers more comfortable to shop in person. Now is the time to get ready to fully reopen and for brick-and-mortar retail to come back to life.
Post-Pandemic Retail Trends
As more shoppers make their way into physical storefronts, there are some things retailers should keep in mind in order to make the most out of reopening. Metova, a leading provider of customer software solutions, announced the results of their latest blind survey of over 1,000 people in the U.S. regarding behavior, trends, and expectations beyond the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Notably, curbside pickup led the way as the “most helpful thing” during the pandemic, outpacing video calling, online video streaming, telemedicine, and mobile food and grocery services.
“Contactless retail, which was already becoming a trend before the pandemic, is now a reality and something consumers will continue to expect for years to come,” Christian Floerkemeier, cofounder of Scandit, said. “In 2020, we saw consumers fully embrace the expanded world of self-scanning, buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), and home delivery. Adoption drives familiarity so once consumers find a solution that suits them, they are more likely to to stick to it. Some consumers may prefer the convenience, some are time poor, while others may want to reduce interactions with store employees. Whatever the reasons, retailers need to understand their customers are now accepting of different ways of shopping and therefore, adapt to their services to meet a range of preferences.”
Bring the Focus Back to Personalized In-Person Experiences
The COVID-19 pandemic forced retailers to learn to connect with their customers virtually, since their physical storefronts were closed or shoppers were too afraid to come inside the store. Even though social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provided many different ways to make that personalized connection, the best methods are those that involve person-to-person contact, according to David Zietsma, SVP of Strategy and Performance at Jackman Reinvents.
“In the world of using platforms to connect with consumers to deliver a personalized experience, employees are an underutilized resource for many businesses, particularly in retail. In many ways, they are the customer experience. The brands that do it best leverage their employees to connect with consumers both in store and through social channels,” Zietsma said.
What Consumers Are Looking For in Personalized Experiences
The silver lining of 2020 was that it brought us back to the basics. More than ever, consumers want to be treated with respect, honesty, and transparency when it comes to making purchasing decisions, according to May Habib, CEO of Writer. Some of the basics that retailers should focus on for 2021 are telling the truth, using clear language that customers understand, and focusing on what is special in your business.
As cultural attitudes shift, so must language. Retailers’ use of language can have a strong impact on their consumers’ purchasing decisions, so businesses really need to think about the way they not only talk to shoppers, but also the way they market their products. “I would argue that the language that should be offered up in the retail world should recognize and acknowledge diversity in consumer messaging. In fact, using inclusive language that avoids offending or disregarding any group of people is the truest way to attract attention to product or service messaging,” Habib said.
In-Depth Insights Into Retail Success Moving Forward
New research from Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and McKinsey & Company, Rethinking Retail: Seven Imperatives for the Industry, offers in-depth insights shaped by leading retail CEOs into the imperatives that will be critical to retail success moving forward. According to this new analysis, the retail industry saw more transformation in the last year than in the last decade. To remain competitive, every brand needs to be clear on their strategy, ambition, risk appetite, financial resources, and current capabilities to ensure diversification and expansion.
The changing competitive landscape will require retailers to pursue seven imperatives. The first four will be familiar to retailers, so the challenge will be to accelerate progress. The next three imperatives represent additional strategies and efforts that will be increasingly critical in the coming years:
- Become omnipotent to omnichannel. Consumers will choose retailers based on ease and richness of end-to-end experience.
- This time (and all the time), it’s personal. Consumers expect personalized experiences and offers as table steaks. Most retailers fall short of these expectations today.
- Turbocharge delivery. As consumer expectations approach same day shipping, stress on the supply chain will mount.
- Take a stand or take a seat. Consumers are finally voting with their wallets for sustainability and broader purpose.
- Recalibrate talent strategies. Winning the war for diverse talent, next-gen skills, and embracing a fluid workplace will give retailers a performance advantage.
- Pursue an eco(system)-friendly strategy. Winners will embrace the networked economy to win consumer mindshare and accelerate capabilities.
- Take productivity from foundational to transformational. Analytics and automation will enable the step change in productivity needed to fund the other imperatives.
Transitioning to In-Person Shopping
COVID-19 caused shoppers to try to stay safe and avoid contact while shopping. As a result, retailers changed around their store layouts, increased their cleaning and disinfectant measures, and kept everyone inside the store socially distant to make consumers more comfortable. For customers that are still hesitant in returning to shops in full, the rise in ecommerce will not disappear post-pandemic. Therefore, it is important for retailers to consider other options such as curbside pickup and the ability for consumers to collect purchases on store entry in addition to home delivery, according to Christian Floerkemeier, cofounder of Scandit.
“‘Safe shopping’ is now a key selling point for stores. Retailers that have moved towards contactless experiences have realized that customers, and employees, feel safer with it. This shift is more common in grocery stores, but as consumers become more familiar with it, it will determine whether they visit a store or not. Retailers need to think beyond just the final transaction but throughout the in-store experience. With consumers expecting to make fast, well-informed buying decisions in physical stores just like they now do online, they will rely on their smartphones to do so. Building in digital experiences that can be accessed via a consumer’s own smartphone, rather than a shared device, will be important to reduce caution about returning to the store.”
As more independent retailers transition to in-person shopping and expand their indoor capacity, they are going to need the right products to entice shoppers to come inside. Here are some fun summer merchandise ideas to start stocking up on as soon as possible:
Summer Ruffle Umbrella
Perfect for propping up at the beach, this designer umbrella features a wooden pole, simple aluminum push pop designed hardware, polyester tassels and a designed canvas. The canopy is trimmed with polyester tassels and is UV 50+ and water resistant. The umbrella also comes with a permanent anchor for the sand and a matching canvas carrier bag.
Pearl Edward Beach
Waterproof Camping Car Roof Tent
Car roof tents have been all the rage since the start of the pandemic. They make for easy camping nights right on top of the car, and this waterproof camping tent can fit two people. Available in 8 different colors and styles, the tent can easily be put up and taken down, and sits flat on the car roof for travel.
Outdoor Bistro Patio Set
Dine in style with this lovely outdoor bistro patio set. Your customers can enjoy a comfortable breakfast lounging in the morning sun or afternoon tea in the garden with the attractive black metal. The set includes a round lattice-top table and two matching chairs.
Eastwind Wholesale Gift Distributors
Barrel Tricycle Planter
This may be the most charming plant holder ever. The rain barrel potted plant holder features authentic black metal banding and is set on a wooden tricycle frame. From the wagon wheels to the little box on the front of the handlebars, this plant accessory is overloaded with country charm.
Koehler Home Decor
Lots of people have a garden hedge, but a garden hedgehog is truly unique. This Hedgehog Planter is handcrafted in Bangladesh where makers from Corr‒The Jute Works showcase their skill in ceramics by crafting each white‒washed terracotta planter by hand.
Ten Thousand Villages
Waterproof Outdoor Picnic Blanket
This waterproof printed outdoor blanket is soft and comfortable fleece, perfect for a relaxing lunch under the sun or on the beach. It is made with a durable water repellent shell and measures 50” x 60”. Available in the color Red Buffalo.
DollarDays International, Inc.
Beauty and the Beast Champion Picnic Basket
The Beauty and the Beast Champion Picnic Basket has deluxe service for two, including two wine glasses, two porcelain plates, stainless steel flatware, and two napkins that match the basket’s navy interior. Made of willow with dark brown leatherette accents, it has full-wrapping closure straps.
White Shells Hat Wind Chime
Whether your customers live in a beach house or more inland, this beautiful seashell wind chime will have them dreaming about those blue waves all summer long. Available in multiple different colors and designs, multiple wind chimes can be bought to decorate the entire front of the house.
Mineral Enriched Magnesium Deodorant
CRYSTAL aluminum-free deodorant for women and men dries quickly and allows the body to function naturally without blocking pores. It is non-irritating, dermatologist-tested to be hypoallergenic, and perfect for all skin types. Available in 5 different scents: Lavender + Rosemary, Coconut + Vanilla, Cucumber + Mint, Sea Salt + Sage, Charcoal + Tea.
Pearl Infused Pro Light Dental Whitening System
Who doesn’t want beautiful white teeth for the summer? The Luster Premium White Pearl Infused Pro Light Dental Whitening System works 7x faster than other teeth whitening led light systems. Includes Pro Light, Serum, Rinse, and Pearl Infused Mint Whitening Toothpaste.
Luster Premium White