Retail Trends for 2021: Keeping Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Alive

The death of brick-and-mortar retailers has been predicted for years, and the pandemic has seemingly only exacerbated the demise. According to a recent survey, 25 percent of consumers are shopping online more than ever before. Luckily, brick-and-mortar shops still hold an important place in the consumer journey. In 2019, only 7 percent of shoppers were online-only shoppers. There’s also been a significant push to support local throughout the pandemic. Since independent retailers are less likely to have a strong online presence, supporting local may mean supporting brick-and-mortar shops. But after a rough year, how can brick-and-mortar retailers encourage consumers to return to their stores? Key changes to the in-person shopping experience can help. QLess discusses some of the main retail trends that will help you succeed in a competitive industry.

Personalized Shopping Experiences

With enhanced health and safety measures due to the ongoing pandemic, more brick-and-mortar store locations are turning to personalized shopping experiences to keep customers safe. Using appointment-based shopping, consumers can book increments of time to shop privately in the store. The benefits are two-fold: consumers get intimate shopping experiences and one-on-one time with the staff. At the same time, the store can better manage capacity, and plan cleaning and sanitizing schedules.

Personalized shopping can also help stores increase their revenue, which is beneficial after a turbulent year. Dedicated staff and personal attention have been found to increase sales by 100 percent on average. That’s because it allows the customer service representatives the opportunity to connect with the customer, driving loyalty and sales. After a difficult year for brick-and-mortar retailers, personal, appointment-based shopping is a retail trend that can improve the customers’ trust in the in-store shopping experience.

Omnichannel Services

Even if the primary interaction is in-store, customers still expect an omnichannel experience where they can control their purchase interaction. That’s why the option to buy online for in-store or curbside pickup will become more popular this year. Popularized by the pandemic and the need for curbside pickup, this shopping experience can be used to bring online-only shoppers into the physical store location to finish the purchase, potentially increasing revenue through impulse buys. This is important because consumers are 10 percent more likely to add impulse items to their purchase when shopping in-store versus online. Impulse buys can also account for up to 16 percent of the store’s total revenue. Even if the consumers’ primary mode of browsing is online, it's important to drive shoppers into physical locations.

Still not convinced that omnichannel experiences are driving factors for consumers? Studies show that opening a physical location increases traffic to the company’s website by up to 27 percent. Also, 55 percent of online shoppers prefer to buy from retailers that also have a physical presence, over an online-only company. That’s why retailers need to be investing in many modes of shopping, including in-store.

Mobile Investments

Mobile shopping is predicted to account for 54 percent of all online sales this year, amounting to $659 billion. But mobile can also have an important impact on the in-person shopping experience. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to take advantage of the mobile-first experience to benefit in-store shoppers. First, brick-and-mortar retailers need to start implementing mobile payments for in-store transactions, as the global mobile payments market will grow by 33 percent by 2022. Giving consumers more ways to pay will only increase sales, as they won’t be turned away or unable to purchase if they don’t have the correct method on hand.

Another retail trend to create mobile-first experiences for in-person shoppers is by developing personalized promotions for those that opt-in to mobile marketing. As mobile takes over online shopping, 75 percent of consumers say that they don’t mind receiving text messages from a brand, so long as they’ve opted in. Another benefit for retailers implementing mobile promotions? Consumers will be more likely to see promotions when they come through text, instead of email. That’s because SMS open rates are 98 percent, compared to email open rates, which are around 20 percent. Using mobile to push the in-store experience is a foolproof way to drive more shoppers into your physical location.

This Isn’t the End

Even though the pandemic appears to have turned even the most dedicated in-person shopper into an online shopping expert, the death of brick-and-mortar retailers isn’t as close as anticipated. For every company that is closing its stores, 5.2 companies are opening new shops. And brands that thought that online-only was the way to go are expected to follow suit, with digitally native brands expected to open 850 stores by 2023. Despite what anyone says, in-store shopping isn’t going away — it’s just evolving. As consumers become savvier, they expect in-store shopping to improve to meet their evolving demands. Making the most of these 2021 retail trends will help your business survive, and even thrive.