We are likely all sick of hearing about the pandemic by now, but its global effect on the retail industry is something that cannot be ignored. As covid continues to loom over us, the supply chain crisis remains persistent and new variants come and go, the face of retail is likely to also continue changing and coping advice is more welcome than ever.
Edited, the market intelligence platform for retail, has highlighted four trends within both the physical and digital landscapes, that could dictate the year ahead in the hope that it can aid retailers to navigate these trying times.
Omnichannel and data driven strategies
It seems that digital innovation and the pandemic have gone hand in hand over the past two years, transforming the role in which brick and mortar operates. Edited’s report, first and foremost, calls on retailers to rethink their store spaces, such as offering customers experiential retail or taking to the digital realm to enable alternative online activation, such as live stream shopping.
Additionally, it asked retailers to consider more flexible payment options to help build on in-store traffic and begin utilising artificial intelligence (AI) learning to create a more personalised experience for their customers. These additions provide the customer with more options to connect with the brand on their own terms, as well as the possibility for the retailer to learn more about customer behaviour.
The metaverse is fast approaching
Following the announcement that Facebook was now to become Meta, a metaverse-first company, it has never been more evident that the virtual world is coming for us thick and fast. In response, retailers have increasingly adopted elements of the new digital sphere under their wing, with the likes of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), gaming and cryptocurrency becoming the norm throughout the industry. According to Edited, the use of digital fashion has become more evident as retailers “leverage it to reduce the number of physical goods”, as the increase in NFTs and crypto additionally aid in the transparency and authentication of goods.
While Cryptocurrency began to be an accepted form of payment during covid, spurred on by Philipp Plein, PacSun and Gen Z, 5G technology also made its way into vision, supporting augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications as well as in-store and online customer services.
The return of the supply chain
As noted by Edited, supply chain issues are “plaguing the industry” and the effective management of logistics is a must for retailers this year. The platform offered a number of suggestions to fix the ongoing issue, such as click and collect, to save on transport costs and return rates, and new sizing technology, which utilises AI tools to aid shoppers in picking the right size of clothing before they order online. Both come complete with many benefits, claiming to help avoid over-ordering and ensure a satisfying customer experience.
Another suggestion made is that of a pre-order model, which has already been adopted by Telfar and Kitri. The business model centres around on-demand ordering, also preventing over-ordering and minimising waste in the process. Likewise, local manufacturing is a further recommendation, a method that ensures more control over the supply chain through reduced lead times.
A rejuvenated high street
A trend that has mostly been encouraged by consumer lifestyle changes related to the pandemic, the high street could see some much-needed rejuvenation this year. According to the data platform, 63 percent of consumers have claimed they will shop more locally, causing many retailers to plan a move to local high streets and out of city centres. Some have also started to consider the newly adopted remote working lifestyle, with some considering the development of commercial spaces just for this cause.