In recent years, e-commerce has become a main presence in the retail industry due to its convenience. However, after the pandemic people are more likely to shop in person now to get out of their house and be able to see and feel the product.
Prior to the pandemic, we saw e-commerce growing rapidly and the pandemic only accelerated that growth. This led to retail stores having reduced hours, less staff, and closing of stores. With consumer behavior changing in this way, it has left retailers in a unique position.
A key recent trend is the use of omnichannel strategy for retailers. This multichannel approach has mostly been benefiting the e-commerce side of the business. Some customer trends include customers trying on sizes and styles of goods in stores then purchasing them online as well as purchasing several sizes online then returning them in their nearest store. Although this is mostly negative for the brick-and-mortar retailers and the in-person experience, it can provide the customer with interaction with the staff and potentially introduce them to new products. There are situations where companies have used this approach to their benefit such as providing the sizes and quantities available in the nearest store and the location within the store. The delivery time and fees are the main downside to the e-commerce experience and providing the customer with an opportunity to eliminate those is important.
While the main trend of brands has been to introduce products in store then move to online, Digitally Native Brands (DNBs) have shifted this trend. DNBs are companies that generate most or all of their sales from e-commerce. DNBs have started with a strictly online presence and then used their success online to grow their business through in-person sales. In the last few years, countless of DNBs have used the omnichannel approach in this way to help their brand immensely. The omnichannel strategy will be a crucial factor in the future of retail.
Another key trend is the use of marketing to enhance the in-person shopping experience. Companies must create an atmosphere in their stores that can not be replicated by an online experience. Examples of this are offering free samples as well as conducting contests or giveaways within their physical store. This has been made easier to these stores due to the desire for interaction that was restricted because of the pandemic. These stores must focus their marketing efforts locally to enhance their stores. With the variety options available to advertise through social media, the companies must focus on local audiences that they will be able to get to go into stores.
Companies have been using certain events like having a local celebrity in their stores to get the customers into the store to build a connection with them. These types of promotions and events in stores have been common in the last several years and they will continue to be prevalent as they are an effective way to get their customers into their stores. It creates an impression with their customers and can persuade them to spend more time shopping in person rather than online.
Black Friday has always been a huge time to shop for the best deals in your local store, but it tends to be hectic. Companies have combatted this by starting their Black Friday sales early from a week to a month before the day. With the rising inflation levels, holiday spending is expected to drop but retailers are still optimistic about the upcoming season. This results in less of an emphasis on the big items and more of a value on the essential items. The holiday season is also when customer service is put to the test and most Americans prefer collaborating with live agent rather than communicating with one online. With all the current economic factors, the focus will be centered around the experience.
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