As we welcome the British summertime, lockdown restrictions also begin to ease. These reasons for positivity are already demonstrably advantageous for retailers across the country as shoppers begin to return in great numbers to the high street. Businesses are already reporting significant figures of spend and it seems that, despite some concerns, customers are seeking to ensure that their local stores remain with good trade.
The full impact of the international health crisis upon retail, however, remains to be seen and it is clear to customers that the way we shop has begun to change. In addition to various new habits, such as social distancing and ubiquitous sanitising stations, retailers are also being affected by technological and social developments too, prompting the retail experience to take on new forms.
To help you understand what’s new, as well as which differences are most likely to stick around, here are the retail trends growing in popularity in 2021.
Visiting your local high street store has, previously, been about browsing and purchasing a product. Now, retailers are seeking to offer experiences, those that immerse shoppers in an activity that involves the brand’s product or service. This style of retail has already become immensely popular. Purveyors of coffee brewing equipment are serving coffee in-store as well as hosting coffee-making classes and clothing stores are going beyond shop fittings to offer catwalks and photo studios to ensure that an outfit really works for a customer’s style. Some concepts, such as Vans, are even installing entire skateparks in their flagship stores.
These experiences are effective because they offer both a novel, personal experience for customers to enjoy while also helping them to truly experience, and become attached to, specific products and the brand’s larger ecosystem.
While privacy concerns remain a focal point for many, retailers are utilising opt-in services to offer customised experiences to shoppers. By building a digital profile on a customer’s shopping habits, that which contains preferences, previous purchases, and interests, employees are able to ensure that regular customers are given a unique and personalized experience when shopping.
Technological developments have made such services far easier and allow for customers to also interact with their local stores directly and quickly. While these services can be difficult to implement initially, they create a substantial return on investment and encourage brand loyalty.
Alongside privacy, many consumers are looking to support products and services that align with their own personal principles, especially when it comes to environmental sustainability. As such, store spaces are being transformed to emphasise the eco-friendly strides retailers are taking. This can involve considerations such as the replacing of shop shelving and retail stand offs with sustainably or locally made alternatives, rebranding or redesigning store aesthetics and minimising or altogether replacing single-use packaging that occurs on shop products.
As customers continue to emphasise their interest in support brands that make such principled decisions, it becomes increasingly important for retailers to take on board, and is set to become one of the biggest retail trends of the coming years.