Ever since 2020, the world is in the throes of digital transformation not seen before. Every single industry is being revolutionised by technology, and the same holds true for the retail industry. One of the largest industries in the world in terms of its net worth, the retail sector has always been the key substrate for evolving trends, for which the coronavirus pandemic has only acted as a catalyst.
Let us read about the five key trends currently shaping the retail industry.
Acceleration of e-commerce
Perhaps one of the most profound changes unfolding in the field of retail is the emphasis on going digital. Online shopping has been a customer-favourite for quite some time now; however, 2020 has compelled the shift from nice-to-have to essential for meeting daily needs. What was born out of convenience and started with online shopping of fashion goods and electronics has today taken the shape of online grocery shopping to eliminate the need for stepping foot outside the home – it’s all about safety, right? This trend-of-sorts will likely continue in the upcoming years until it is expected that many customers will make a permanent shift to digital shopping.
Boost of contactless payments
Exchange of cash and touching of POS terminal keypads are visibly becoming a thing of the past. Owing to safety concerns, most customers are opting out of physical money and tapping into their digital wallets and contactless card and mobile payment modes, even and especially in a physical store. As a result, stores have started introducing self-checkout stations that eliminate the need for human contact at the counters. Although started as a precautionary measure, it is likely that prolonged social distancing will instill this consumer habit, making contactless payments more natural than their physical counterparts.
Interweaving of technology with commerce
It is technology that has been the front-and-centre during the outbreak, and given its safety benefits and convenience, it is highly likely that technology will continue to reign supreme in the retail sector. The trajectory of technologies, including cloud computing, robotics, and the use of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality), will continue to accelerate. Customers will be able to choose the most desirable products from the comfort of their living rooms, or home office, whichever the case may be. Even the use of autonomous vehicles in delivering groceries and other orders is becoming a key trend in countries like China.
This one deserves a separate shoutout. Unlike traditional retail stores where the focus rested on transactions and sales, the gear is gradually shifting in the direction of offering such immersive and shareable experiences to customers that stimulates their senses. Hence, the focus is not really sales, but customer engagement – a key driver for sales. The retail brand, Lush, has always been demonstrating bath bombs by dropping one into the in-store sinks, and today, most brands’ stores look more like art galleries allowing for Instagram-worthy visual experiences for customers walking through its doors.
Same-day or faster delivery
Would it really be a retail trend roundup without mentioning the fulfillment big names like Amazon is bringing in via its same-day shipping and delivery? Customer expectations regarding shipping are only increasing. For the retail giant, what started out with two-day delivery via Amazon Prime turned into next-day delivery and is now at its fastest – same-day delivery. We live in a culture of instant gratification; plus, emergencies come knocking at the door unexpectedly. Therefore, this trend is only bound to remain and get better, especially with the use of drone technology to deliver orders in 30 minutes or less.
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