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Despite the COVID-19 and its variations in 2021, the outlook for retail industry is still bright with the new normal, especially eCommerce and retail. For example, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest introduced purchasable live streaming over Christmas 2021, and 87% of Gen Z do their holiday shopping as these social media inspirations. In addition, artificial intelligence and data are the current trends in retailing to navigate brand success and create personalized customer experiences. Therefore, we explore future trends and provide you with 20 main retail trends 2022. So read on to be prepared!

Trend #1. Online shopping trends

Shrinking spending for traditional channels and rise of eCommerce

Shrinking spending for traditional channels and rise of eCommerce

The most critical factor influencing retail industry trends in 2021, continuing from 2020 and into 2022, is the global emergence of COVID-19. The online shopping trend in retailing started long before COVID and was inevitable when brick-and-mortar stores closed during the lockdown. However, a return to everyday life after COVID is unlikely to reverse this trend. Online retail trends have stabilized and will continue to grow.

According to a retail customer experience report by Verizon Look Forward, 60% of customers mainly shopped in-store before the pandemic, but that dropped to 37% when COVID-19 hit. In addition, 42% of respondents said they’ll shop online and offline equally. In the UK, 5.7 million households were shopping for Christmas items online in 2021. Tesco’s online grocery sales hit more than $1.38 billion in 19 weeks of Christmas shopping, and Sainsbury’s saw a 128% growth in online grocery sales over the same period.

Livestreaming retail trends 2022

Livestreaming retail trends 2022

Live Streaming has grown and become more prevalent in 2020—2021. Home shoppers see live streaming as a way to interact while shopping online to make purchasing decisions more accurate and faster. In addition, customers spend hours watching influencers and celebrities host entertainment on various designed topics to make sales.

Social commerce on Instagram

Social commerce on Instagram

The most popular social network for social commerce is Instagram, where you can highlight products and tell your story. The announcement of Instagram shopping and the ability to make purchases directly in the app is a breakthrough online retail trend. You can easily promote products on Instagram, and customers can shop at the discovery.

Plus, you can use social commerce to customize and personalize shopping experiences like checkout on Instagram, giving their customers an all-in-one experience. As a result, customers don’t have to leave Instagram while retail brands can interact, set up personalized discounts with customers, and get meaningful feedback.

Trend #2. Omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing trends in retail marketing

Retailers that adopt omnichannel achieve year-over-year customer retention 91% higher than those that do not. According to Business2Community, customers use an average of 6 touch points when purchasing an item, and nearly 50% regularly use more than 4 touchpoints. Therefore, you should expand your retail marketing trends across multiple channels instead of focusing on just one or two.

Typically, you should reach your customers in different channels at different buying cycle stages. However, an omnichannel marketing solution is not about using multiple channels for one campaign. Instead, it ensures your channels are interactive and creates a seamless marketing experience with your customers. Omnichannel trends in retail marketing to complete the consumer journey is the right strategy to increase sales. The pandemic and digital innovation have spurred mobile and phone shopping, where most purchases occur.

Trend #3. Customer data collection

Customer data collection trend in retailing

A successful retail strategy always puts people first. As a result, the most successful brands understand the power of human connection in facilitating meaningful relationships. Optimizing customer experience and retention and applying multiple customer-centric metrics will give you a better edge to dominate the market. The explosion of technology has also provided an information goldmine for retailers.

To better understand and respond to consumer shopping preferences, retailers need to explore options beyond their social media profiles and data. From smart POS systems to in-store sensors, data sources to identify new customer touchpoints are endless. They’re the future trends in retail by delivering personalized experiences and generating customer genomes through real-time rich data collection.

Trend #4. Click and collect

Click and collect shopping trends

The click and collect trend in retailing provides some respite on your distribution system. It can save shipping costs and reduce return rates by ensuring that customers are satisfied with their order before leaving the store. For example, Zara’s store pickup mode’s latest release allows customers to collect purchased items within 30 minutes. Additionally, Zara customers can click and find to view items in the store before they buy and book a fitting room to try on purchased items.

Instead of just fulfilling orders online, you need to support curbside pickup, online purchase, in-store pickup (BOPIS), and store-to-store transfers. Customers expect these services because of the flexibility and still retain the throughout shopping experience.

Trend #5. Brick and mortar retail trends

Reopen physical stores

Brick and mortar retail trends

Most customers still want to go to brick-and-mortar stores because they love the in-store experience and interact with the products before purchasing them. As the world reopens, the number of retailers announcing the expansion has recently skyrocketed. Many brands specializing in selling online are reopening their physical stores, for example, Dick’s Sporting Goods opening 800 stores, Ralph Lauren opening 90 stores, Warby Parker opening 35 stores, and the list goes on.

Redesign the brick-and-mortar retail experience

Redesign the brick-and-mortar retail experience

Stores in 2022 will offer a more personalized brand experience, with many new experiments in-store formats and locations. Thus, you’ll also need to redesign your brick-and-mortar store space and invest in experiential retail. Brick and mortar retail trends can range from as simple as adding a Perspex screen at checkout to as complex as making radical changes to in-store layouts, separate entrances, and exits to the traffic division. Brick-and-mortar stores will still drive online sales, and you should leverage in-stores to drive sustainable growth.

For example, Dick’s House of Sport is experimenting with interactive features such as batting cages, climbing walls, and planting trees. In addition, some large retailers are now setting up specialist stores and creating mini-stores in stores. As such, Ikea has opened a series of Ikea Home Planning Studios. Also, Apple, JCPenney, Macy’s, and Best Buy have all tried this in recent years and will remain a permanent fixture of future trends in retail.

Change brick-and-mortar store locations

Change brick-and-mortar store locations

The donut effect is long-lasting when spaces are valued more than downtown living. Most retailers plan to move stores out of major city centers and onto local high streets in 2022. In addition, with the demand for remote workspaces increasing, current retail trends are blurring the lines between work and play as telecommuting presents the opportunity for a new type of retail space.

For example, Selfridges intends to build a 45,000 square meter commercial space extending to the top of their store on Oxford Street. Westfield London shopping center has also announced plans to turn part of the House of Fraser into a WeWork-style office space. These projects aim to increase store traffic and transform the combined experience of a brick-and-mortar retail store.

Trend #6. Returns trends in retail 2022

Returns trends in retail 2022

Normally, refunds and returns were part of reverse logistics’ tedious but necessary store operations, and the fear of returns completely discouraged them from buying online. However, returns will become an attractive differentiator in retail trends 2022. Returns directly influence customer choice.

According to eCommerce News, 78% of online shoppers prefer retailers that offer free returns. As a result, retailers should invest in location, streamlined processes, refunds, and in-house return processing to improve profitability. For example, Wayfair is upgrading the way they present their products to avoid returning the goods in the first place. Alternatively, you can offer a refund over your original payment or store credit to encourage future repurchases.

Trend #7. Contactless payments future trends in retail

Rising contactless payment awareness

Contactless payments future trends in retail

Contactless payments are widely available during 2020–2021, and customers are already experiencing the advantages of contactless payments. According to research by Verizon Look Forward, about 30% of customers have used or heard of contactless mobile payments (33%) and contactless credit cards (36%) for the first time during COVID-19. As a result, contactless payments will be future trends in retail.

Mobile payments

Mobile payments

Retailers should offer more flexible payment options to reduce store traffic, especially during peak holidays. For example, you can authorize and accept mobile payments and self-pay RFID cards.

Self-checkouts

Self-checkouts in retail 2022

According to research by Verizon Look Forward, 23% of people want to pay themselves. As a result, some retailers have switched from static POS counters to mobile payment systems or self-checkout counters.

Trend #8. Home-based businesses

Home-based businesses

According to a Deloitte report, customers started shopping again avidly and spending money on in-house improvements. During the pandemic, the stay-at-home economy or business from home has emerged, and those retail consumer trends will continue to exist. It may be that fewer people work from home in 2022, but many are still discovering that they enjoy and will continue to work from home at least a few days a week. Thus, if you wonder how to start a furniture business from home, 2022 is a great time to begin.

Trend #9. AR and VR trend in retailing

AR and VR trend in retailing

You can apply AR and VR to enhance your in-store and online shopping experience. For example, customers use AR to preview a product before buying it. One of the uses of AR. and VR retail industry trends is to reduce misplacement rates and a lack of trust in sizing, leading to large backlogs during returns instead of being available for purchase.

However, the key is simplicity. If you want your customers to use the app, it should be easy and seamlessly integrated with your online platform.

Trend #10. Nearshoring outlook for retail industry

Nearshoring outlook for retail industry

Nearshoring is a robust ecosystem of suppliers closer to where you live. It ensures a more controlled supply chain and shorter delivery times. With current retail trends, retailers must focus on avoiding obstacles to logistics. For example, you should also invest in local resources and suppliers to limit your complete dependence on production abroad. With no quick fix available to solve the global supply chain problems, you must effectively manage logistics by 2022 to keep consumers happy and increase revenue.

Trend #11. Free shipping retail consumer trends

Free shipping retail consumer trends

There is a conflict between customer expectations and reality in the current retail trends due to COVID-19. Customers shop more online but want to receive the goods as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in a shipping crisis and delivery delays globally. Many online retailers like Amazon have put a lot of effort into solving this problem.

Free shipping can be an important factor in purchasing decisions. According to NRF, nearly 90% of customers claim to shop online more often if they offer free shipping. Additionally, 65% admit they would spend more to qualify for free shipping. Overall, retailers that offer free shipping have a 20% higher conversion rate than the rest.

Trend #12. AI trend in retailing

Most popular adoptions of AI

AI trend in retailing

More and more retailers are adopting AI in their retail operations. The most typical AI future trends in retail are its applications in the following areas:

  • Customer engagement
  • Conversational support
  • Guided discovery
  • Visual curation
  • Interactive chat
  • Dynamic outreach
  • Adaptive homepage
  • Inventory management

Chatbot

Chatbot examples

One obvious application that uses AI for a personalized shopping experience is chatbots. According to a recent Cognizant report, the global chatbot market will reach $1.3 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 24%. In addition, Juniper Research shows that the value of chatbots contributing to eCommerce transactions will be $112 billion by 2023.

Conversations with standard chatbots can help eliminate points of conflict that could lead customers to abandon a purchase. In addition, Chatbots will be crucial for online retail trends, like when customers ask for help or add specific products to their shopping cart.

Voice search and personal assistant

Voice search and personal assistant

Google reports that 20% of the search will be a voice search. It’s especially popular with Gen Z and Millennials, who prefer to talk into their mobile devices rather than type. So, another emerging specialized application is a personal assistant to enhance voice search.

Trend #13. NFT future trends in retail

NFT future trends in retail

NFT are non-fungible tokens (NFT) made side-by-side with the game in 2021. It creates ownership in the ever-expanding digital world and online shopping. Thus, NFT technology can improve authentication, transparency, and pay with cryptocurrency or digital bidding.

In the fashion consumer trends 2022, luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Balenciaga have introduced new wearables and collectibles for League of Legends, Blankos Block Party, and Fortnite. For example, Burberry immediately sold out their Digital Blankos Block Party collection and generated $225,000 in sales within 30 seconds of launch.

Trend #14. Digital Metaverse retail industry trends

Digital Metaverse retail industry trends

Metaverse is a virtual space where you can work, communicate, play games, and be more connected to the real world. You are probably behind the curve if you think that Metaverse is not a direct trend in retailing. Fashion retailers begin to create virtual products for the digital space and reap real profits through NFT that allows customers to own assets in the virtual world. Metaverse has created success for retailers, notably Nike, Ralph Lauren, and Balenciaga.

For example, Nike partnered with RTFKT to launch virtual products on the NFT platform and mark this sportswear brand’s first foray into the Metaverse universe. As a result, digital fashion becomes more of a reality to reduce the number of physical goods. Thus, virtual products in Metaverse also avoid inventory problems — a pain point of the fashion industry.

Trend #15. Cryptocurrency future trends in retail

Cryptocurrencies future trends in retail

Cryptocurrencies are starting to play a more significant role in current retail trends. In 2021, PacSun and Philipp Plein began accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as their payment options. It demonstrates the accessibility of cryptocurrencies across high-end and mass-market brands. In addition, you can easily set up physical and online stores with just a downloadable coin wallet and QR code.

Trend #16. reCommerce current retail trends

reCommerce current retail trends

reCommerce is rooted in retail industry trends of reselling used products online and offline. According to Forrester, 60% of online shoppers in France, 49% in the UK, and 41% in the US prefer to buy environmentally sustainable products. In addition, customers prefer to buy second-hand products because they are unique and less expensive. Recycling makes a lot of sense for both the customer and the planet. Therefore, big retailers like IKEA and H&M have started to design reusable products.

Trend #17. Private labels retail consumer trends

Private labels retail consumer trends

According to CBInsights, sales of private label products have now tripled over sales of branded products. Private label shopping trends have grown in the US and Europe. Customers are willing to pay less for an unknown product than a premium for a product with a known brand name. In addition, budget-conscious consumers mostly buy private label products.

Today, it’s not just the poor who buy private label products. In the U.K., 40% of grocery sales are private label products and take a 25% market share over the next decade, and 32% of Millennials in the U.S. Retailers earned 25–30% higher profit margins on private labels than selling branded products.

Trend #18. Sustainability consumer trends 2022

Sustainability consumer trends 2022

The push for sustainability has significantly impacted retail operations in 2021 and will continue throughout this decade. According to McKinsey, consumer trends 2022 are limiting the impact of consumption on climate change. Many retailers have recognized this trend and begun implementing increased attention to social inclusion and corporate social responsibility audits. Ideally, sustainable shopping lets customers know:

  • What your product is made of
  • Where it’s made
  • What customers can do with it after shopping

Trend #19. Focus on health

Focus on health

Health and wellbeing have become a significant trend in retailing, especially in the wake of COVID-19. As a result, more customers are willing to spend more money and time to take care of themselves. For example, sales of plant-based and vegan foods have increased dramatically. In addition, sales of athleisure in the stay-at-home economy also increased.

Trend #20. Direct to customers (DTC)

Direct to customers (DTC)

Direct to customers (DTC) is where a retailer sells their products or services directly to customers and eliminates the need for intermediaries. The most apparent benefits of this outlook for the retail industry are higher speed to market, more favorable pricing, higher profit margins, and the quicker ability to identify and respond to customer needs. According to a report by eMarketer., DTC sales grew 45.5% in 2020, with 15.9% expected growth in the U.S.

How should retailers prepare for 2022

How should retailers prepare for 2022

The pandemic has pushed consumers across the globe to migrate out of city centers, working entirely, working from home, or hybrid. It shapes almost all retail trends 2022, opens new doors for retailers, and drives substantial investment. Thus, 2022 will be the year of new investments and partnerships, positioning a new business model, strategy, marketing, store, and operations to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Partnerships will be crucial to growth amid market turmoil. Retailers are working together wisely to increase their business agility, continuously reinvent themselves, nurture existing customers, and attract new customers. Reputable retailers can partner with direct-to-consumer brands to establish and expand a physical footprint. Therefore, retail industry trends need to be followed. It automates system improvements, optimizes its business, and competes effectively in the next challenging retail phase.

Keenan Pham

Author Keenan Pham

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