4 Key Retail Trends to Watch Out for in 2022

The world is witnessing digital transformation at a tremendous scale and e-commerce, like any other industry, is expected to move past the hype of QR codes, coupons, and checkout-free stores to provide a more holistic experience to the customers.
4 Key Retail Trends to Watch Out for in 2022 

The world is witnessing digital transformation at a tremendous scale and e-commerce, like any other industry, is expected to move past the hype of QR codes, coupons, and checkout-free stores to provide a more holistic experience to the customers. 

With the onset of the pandemic, as online buying skyrocketed, the pressure on the supply chain also intensified. There were a lot of inefficiencies because of obsolete supply chain processes or systems. The lack of real-time visibility of the operations and systems prompted many retailers to optimize their supply chains. The solution to all these challenges emerged in the form of MFCs, last-mile delivery, supply partner integration, and many other factors. 

As retail trends continue to jump on the Metaverse bandwagon, below are some of the key trends in the retail industry that will be a focus area for the retailers trying to adopt a digital system:-

Micro Fulfillment Centers: The Hub - As the volume of goods purchased online increases, it is imperative to adapt to changing customer needs. Many retailers have turned their attention to MFC’s to solve the rising challenges. With some e-commerce promising super-fast delivery under 10 minutes, retailers are catching on to the ‘instant’ trend with MFCs, dark stores, last-mile delivery, effective product assortment center management, and robotics-based automation.  

Once the lockdown measures eased and people started coming back to stores, retailers faced new expectations from consumers: touchless, safe shopping experiences with minimal social interaction. Retailers rushed to start optimizing their shelves and improving safety. 

Personalizing in-store experience based on past behavior, purchasing trends, etc. became essential. There was a lot of data collected by retailers, but many did not use it properly to create tailored journeys for the customers. However, more and more retailers understood the positive impact of data and started using customer data to drive personalized experiences. 

READ MORE: Growing Role of Quick Commerce in The Retail Sector

Focus on Omnichannel Strategy - With shoppers returning to the stores, retailers revamp their stores with omnichannel transformation.

Retailers act on the insight from past purchase behavior to enhance the experience with smart integrations.  For example, retailers could direct the customer to a physical store nearby while browsing for a product. This not only gives a hands-on experience but also helps customers make better purchase decisions. To make this possible, it is essential to have a real-time inventory availability analysis that is integrated with mobile channels to provide a transparent and seamless experience for the customers.

Intelligent Supply Chain - Customer expectations are higher than ever and to compete in a multi-channel world an intelligent supply chain system is the prerequisite. Improving supply chain agility by leveraging smart infrastructure can reduce costs, help manage inventory better, and deliver operational efficiencies. In order to provide a seamless experience to the customers, it is essential that the backend is strong with in-store and online retailers having the right products in stock, in the right location, and at the right time. 

This could function like clockwork only if the supply chain is optimized with online customer orders, stores, fulfillment options, and inbound logistics across borders and time zones. The key is to utilize data across every point in your supply chain and apply ML and AI to better understand how each element is correlated to the others. 

AI in Retail Operations - Retailers use a large amount of data to deliver online product recommendations or optimize demand forecasting. Many retailers use solutions that rely on high-definition video streams that are fed to cloud edge services in a store that runs on a customized AI vision model. The AI model processes these HD videos in real-time to detect empty shelves and notify employees to refill the stock. Again, this process forms a part of the inventory planning across stores.

Retailers could make use of these next-gen AI solutions that are integrated with cloud providers like Azure Cloud to level up their customer experience. These technologies supported by AI and IoT ensure a smooth operation with companies no longer having to depend extensively on manual labor.

Conclusion 

The pandemic was an eye-opener and there were plenty of brick-and-mortar retailers who steered away from digital commerce for a long time. The past couple of years made it imperative for everyone to go digital, embark on a transformation journey, optimize their supply chains, deliver personalized customer experiences, and ensure they take customer data seriously. 

With customers' expectations becoming increasingly demanding, competitive advantage is achieved based on how soon you can deliver a product, how fast you can gather insights from data, and how accurately you can predict consumer behavior. Therefore, it is important that you have a good digital transformation strategy especially in an industry like retail where everything needs to function like clockwork. The future would witness more of digital transformation adoption and retailers would have to be careful with what they choose.

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