6 Retail Transformation Trends to Look for in 2021

May 22, 2021 6 min read


6 Retail Transformation Trends to Look for in 2021

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It is old news that retail is transforming globally, which has become a new reality in the last four months. Here is our list of retail transformation trends to look for in 2021 and beyond.

Due to the pandemic, the retail business is changing rapidly and you cannot think to opt-out because our lifestyle and buying behavior has fundamentally changed.

While comparing YoY monthly total retail store sales vs non-store retail sales, the latter saw a consistent growth during the pandemic. 

Retail Transformation Trends 2021 - Retail Vs Non-store Retail Statistics 2021 Statista

But, this doesn’t really say that retail store sales have not seen bright days. July has been a wonderful month for physical stores but there is a change in the way they conduct retail. 

The point which has come out very evidently is that retailers cannot just rely on their brick and mortar stores. Digital sales channels are the MUST to have for in-store or online retail because customers are looking for it.

Here are the changes retailers shall adopt for business sustainability and growth.

1. Go Digital. Have retail transformation at a faster pace.

The #1 priority amongst retailers in 2021 and beyond is speeding up their digital transformation process. Every retailer who started their digital transformation process this year always had a plan to do so. But, never prioritized it because they never saw it as a dire need.

But, the pandemic taught a lesson- Pure-play retail is no longer pure. It’s the past. Three things that retailers would prioritize in this digital transformation process-

  • Going Omnichannel

The amalgamations of online and offline retail to produce seamless transactions. This process highly focuses on establishing seamless offline and digital channels to improve customer experience, strengthen the supply chain, and sustain brand loyalty.

  • Frictionless Buying

Technology plays a crucial role in giving a better & safer buying experience. Mobile devices that pre-scan a customer’s cart, utilizing technology to empower products with better personalization and more are trending among renowned retailers.

  • No-touch payments

Shops without billing counters and safe checkouts which means no human interaction while making payments. Retailers want all of these to be obtained faster than ever before.

2. ‘Smarter’ Retail stores to WOO the customers

This retail transformation trend talks about tech assistance in choosing the right products and buying process. Like we discussed earlier, to enable frictionless buying, retailers would need to adopt the technology.

Adopting an Omnichannel retail strategy would help the retailers turn their traditional stores into the ‘smart’ stores. These smart stores would help retailers with detailed insights, which would further help them to make informed decisions.

‘Smart’ stores would help retailers with the following tasks-

  • Buyers’ Persona (profiling) using data

Generating buyers’ profiles based on digital sensing of buying across all channels. When a customer enters the store, the retailers would get a notification on when the last purchase was made by this customer through which channel.

Such buyers’ profiling helps retailers understand when a buyer is most likely to make a purchase- either during the holiday season or when new stock arrives.

The technology would further help the staff to recommend the right products to the buyers based on their demographics and past purchases. The staff can show off the products that they’d wishlisted online or left the cart abandoned, which they can try and buy, reducing the time to make a purchase.

  • Digital catalogs and endless aisle

Setting up stores with digital catalogs to reduce in-store inventory while maintaining options for the customers is what retailers must plan for. The need for endless aisle increases with the growing demand for retailers to ensure product availability.

The products that are out-of-stock or not available in-store can be showcased through a virtual catalog so that the customers can have a better shopping experience, every time.

‘Smart’ stores for smart retailers, isn’t it?

3. Re-thinking the purpose of retail stores

With the changing ways of buying in-store, retailers would need to re-think the purpose of their retail stores. Customers now have online stores to make purchases, then why they would need retail stores.

Retailers need to adopt technologies such as Augmented Reality to enable virtual try-on experiences. Customers would hesitate to physically try the product (obviously because of the pandemic), but trying the products virtually can give them better clarity on whether to buy or not.

Stores would also need to pick up technologies that help customers to find the product locations in-store, fetch online product reviews/ratings by scanning the digital product tags, look for social opinions by sharing their tried products with friends or on social media, and more.

Also, retailers can utilize their physical stores as warehouses from where they can work on fulfillment and shipping.

With the increasing demand for online stores, the demand for retail ones is not going to vanish. It’s time, retailers think beyond traditional retail.

4. Transforming delivery

With retail transformation, there comes a transformation of delivery as well. Retailers need to look at new ways to look at delivery management to give a better customer experience.

Here are three ways retailers would transform their delivery options-

  • Multi-store inventory

Fulfilling client’s order from different warehouses/stores with a powerful multi-store point of sale system (multi-store PoS).

Seamless integration between all the stores would be required to ensure if a product is not available in one warehouse, how much time it would take to bring it from other warehouses (if available).

  • BOPIS/BORIS Options

Stores can re-thought as pick-up zones, where customers can order from any place and pick up at their convenience. With a powerful Omnichannel retail strategy, retailers can enable customers with the following buying convenience-

    • ROPO – Research Online, Purchase Offline
    • BIMBO – Browse In-Store, on Mobile, Buy Online
    • BOPIS – Buy Online Pickup In-Store
    • BORIS – Buy Online Return In-Store
  • Try at-home

This term or trend hasn’t been new. We’ve considered it as one of the top eCommerce conversion hacks for fashion as well as home furnishing and decor segments.

Customers can select a few products, and retailers send them to customers’ homes for try-on and can immediately make sales.

Lenskart, Pepperfry has been renowned brands that have adopted this transformed way of delivery for many years now. But, this will become trending among retailers by the end of 2021 and beyond.

5. Adopt value-driven marketing

The time has gone when sales-driven marketing was the ultimate focus for both- retailers and eCommerce stores. Today, retailers need to build an audience, followers, and fans. The focus has to be shifted to gaining brand resonance.

Brand resonance helps retailers understand how customers perceive their brand, and considering that retailers can strengthen their relationship with customers. Two ways can help retailers adopt value-driven marketing

  • Integrated Marketing

Incorporating integrated marketing strategies across all channels to make sure the brand messaging remains consistent across all communications and sales channels. All of this to reach out to new customers, persuade them to buy your products, and keep delighting the existing ones.

  • Focus on LTV

Pandemic has forced retailers to stop focusing on only sales, rather shifting the focus towards earning customer loyalty at every digital touchpoint and increasing the lifetime value of your customers.

For this, you can think of coming up with ideas for concept-based marketing, and selling products that connect with customers emotionally. That’s what value-driven marketing is all about— selling value and not only products.

6. Leverage commerce full-fledged

The most important retail transformation trend is to leverage commerce completely. Commerce is not only a channel to drive sales but a way to grow business.

Ecommerce needs a different set of platforms, people, technologies, and processes. Picking up the right ones here can fast-track your business transformation growth.

Retailers can take the help of eCommerce consultants to set up the processes for communication, sales, marketing, delivery, and more, train new people, set-up their marketplace strategies, choose the right tech stack, and pick-up the platforms considering the industry segments, competition, and business goals.

Retailers must invest the right amount of time, money, and effort to take their commerce channel to the next level.

Implement connected-commerce strategies with eCommerce experts

Retail transformation in 2021 and beyond will remain focused around connected commerce which includes the following but not limited to them-

  • Defining new business models with the help of digital technologies
  • Implementing digital strategies with the right set of KPIs
  • Incorporating Omnichannel retail strategy to offer seamless and personalized consumer experiences across all digital touch-points
  • Eliminating any probable frictions between researching products, buying them, and delivering them
  • Empowering consumers with secure transaction and checkout experiences consistently
  • Accelerating value-driven marketing to boost customer loyalty

Bring experts in place to help you implement connected commerce with simple, long-term, and easy-to-implement roadmap.

Our eCommerce experts at eComKeeda help you identify your business goals, strategize to speed up the go-to-market, focus on maintaining a competitive edge, and drive the workforce to excel in the customer experience through a powerful connected commerce strategy.

Schedule a call now!

Vatsal Shah is a co-founder of Pragmatic Consultancy and DIMC and has transformed various IT, E-Commerce, Chemical, Retail, Service sector organizations for 15 years now. Vatsal has been invited as a speaker by WordCamp, Meet Magento, GTU, ETail India, AMA, GLS University, etc. As a business coach and mentor, he has influenced more than 48 organizations in India, China, the UK, Africa, and the USA and trained more than 4700 people. Vatsal is the most artistic personality at eComKeeda because he is an amazing singer, dancer, artist, gold medalist in the corporate writing, and so much more.