Global pandemic has drastically changed the way consumers live, communicate, shop and work. COVID-19 has roiled supply chains, altered customer’s purchase decisions and impacted retail in more than one way. It skewed online shopping, and transitioned retail industry into a more digital and internet-driven sector. Majority of the brick-and-mortar stores have adapted digital ways of shopping without compromising on the in-personal experience.
According to a recent report published by Adobe, 2020 will be the banner year for e-commerce sector. It estimates that $189 billion will be spent online especially during the holiday shopping season (up 33 percent year-over-year). And 2021 also promises to be one of the most profitable years for digitally native merchants.
On that note, here are top retailing predictions for the coming year:
Personalised Online Shopping
Video calls have become the new mode for communication. We all have started connecting with each other virtually either for professional or personal purpose. Retailers have now started to realise the importance of video calling as a consultation and sales tool. If a person wants to buy laptop or a washing machine, he or she can directly connect with the sales representative at their convenience. This can be after work, over the weekends or at late night.
Apart from convenience, virtual consultation makes it possible to share product videos, demonstrate the product’s functions, and boost trust. Retailers have started to understand the importance of virtual brand consultation as it can work wonders for all kind of products and services.
Increase in AI Customer-Facing
AI driven big data has been maturing for many years now, with majority of the retailers relying on advance analytics to understand what kind of items to be stocked in their stores. Earlier robots were used in inventory management, now in 2021, we can expect to see them taking over the shop floor too. Retailers will now focus more of AI marketing outreach to increase their customer numbers, self-isolating customers and increasing conversions.
AI-powered voice recognition technology has improved a lot and now it is truly adding value to both offline and online modes of shopping. It is becoming very common to use our voices to control our devices or search anything on the Internet. In 2021, we will be increasingly using them to search and buying things online. Hence the retailers will have to build their infrastructure to adapt to the changing habits of their customers.
Brick-and-Mortar Stores Delivering at Home
As earlier mentioned, it is the brick-and-mortar stores which have been adversely affected by the pandemic, and off course they are not going to go down without giving a tough fight. Even now, with all the digitalisation, the fastest way to get your hands on the essential grocery items is to drive to a nearby store and purchase them. However, this fast mode is not a preferred mode of shopping in today’s scenario.
Brick-and-mortar retailers are hamstrung by logistics issues which restrain them from fast forwarding deliveries at home. Many of them don’t have access to streamlined logistics which the e-commerce behemoths across the globe have. Retailers are solving this problem by forging an alliance with the e-commerce companies to circumvent this delivery problem. Therefore, we can witness a lot of brick-and-mortar stores tying up with e-commerce companies like Amazon and Walmart for delivering items directly to their customers’ home within a few hours.
Drone-Deliveries Becoming the Next Big Thing
We all know that online shopping has witnessed an exponential increase this year, all thanks to COVID-19, which caused major physical stores to be closed down across the globe. With such online boom, retailers have now started to think about innovative ways for delivery – including drone deliveries.
For instance, recently according to a report, budget airlines like SpiceJet, Reliance-backed drone start-up Asteria Aerospace, etc. have received approvals from the aviation regulator to test fly drones. Therefore, this trend is bound to become more prevalent moving forward, as it goes without saying that the key to successful retail output is implementation of new and innovative technology.