Remember April of 2020 when we were all wondering what the new normal would be post- pandemic? Today, we are inching toward 2022 with the understanding that the pandemic is still a part of our world and the new normal is here. This coming year will set the new shopping trends in stone for the next decade and create a new standard for retailers to pay attention to and master.
Here are the top tips for you to take note of as we head into 2022 with a new strategy.
IN-PERSON SHOPPING Has dropped from 60% of sales to 37% of sales, according to the Verizon Look Forward Study. They anticipate as the pandemic continues to ease, that number will return to about 42%, with more than 50% of shoppers continuing to shop online. When people return to stores, they want the experience that makes the trip worth their while. Customer service, product interaction and interaction with specialists that can answer all of their questions are the top requests for in-store shopping.
CONTACTLESS CHECK-OUT Which includes contactless credit cards and alternative payments are on the rise. The same study says that more than one in five adults anticipate they will be using self-checkout and contactless credit cards to reduce exposure to germs. Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and Samsung pay can all be used through the phone and consumers will return to location where there is compatible equipment that will make the transactions easier for them. Watch out for Cash App and Venmo options for contactless payments in the future as well.
POSITIVE EXPERIENCE An article published by Deloitte last September, says “Holiday Retail Sales Expected to Increase 7-9%,” expect an in-person increase of 7-9% and an e-commerce increase of 11-15%. As vaccination rates rise, there is more consumer confidence for shopping in-person, yet the convenience of online shopping is reshaping the norm. Again, the experts talk about how consumers are looking for a positive experience in their shopping interactions, top-notch customer service, product knowledge, and quality over price.
FASTER & FREE SHIPPING Consumers will pay more! The instant gratification of in-person shopping is being replaced with faster shipping. Consumers will pay more for a product if they get free shipping. With the shipping crisis created by COVID, customers are sensitive to wait and will change plans to get what they want, when they want it. Amazon has set the standard expectation of the two-day shipping, allowing consumers to make last-minute purchases.
“AT-HOME” ECONOMY REMAINS Home improvement, hobbies, cooking, binge-watching, and online shopping will continue to trend in 2022. There is still a great number of remote workers that have the time to enjoy their living space in new ways. Those who are going back to work have found the need for the time at home to balance out dealing with larger numbers of people and the commute to work. Personal care and spiritual development are a big part of that “at-home” economy. Make it easy and attainable and your customers will return for more.
RETAIL SPACE REDESIGNED The big-box retailers have been re-designing their spaces to increase the feeling of health safety for customers including wider aisles, with more options for space distance recommended by the CDC. These redesigns are used as a part of their marketing campaigns to draw customers back to the brick-and-mortar locations.
ONCE MORE FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK Customer experience is still the largest driver of in-store shopping. The pre-COVID trend of large retailers closing their doors due to the increase in online shopping continues and online retailers work hard to create the shopping experience that is inherent to in-person shopping. Identifying, enhancing, and promoting your unique in-store experience will be a big draw for walk-in consumers. Being able to touch and try products before buying them is still a driver for in-person shopping.
YOUR BRAND IS BIGGER THAN YOUR NAME The first driver of your brand is your reputation; in-store experience, quality of products, how you interact with a wider community, and how you give back. Businesses that have a clear mission and vision will gain faster customer loyalty. Private label products, special packaging, and items or services unique to your store are trends you will see gain traction in 2022.
VALUES ARE THE NEW BLACK Customers are paying attention to the values of the brands they are loyal to. A report from Accentures, states, “Global consumers have new motivations beyond price and quality. They are ready to abandon brands that don’t support their reimagined values. And to pay more to those that do.” Accenture is calling these the Reimagined Consumers and they are 50% of the 25,000 people surveyed. “A full 50% of consumers say that the pandemic caused them to rethink their personal purpose and re-evaluate what’s important to them in life.”
Forty-two percent say the pandemic made them realize they need to focus on others more than themselves. These consumers — we call them the “reimagined”— are changing their buying habits accordingly across all 14 industries we covered.”
LIVE STREAMING The pandemic created a popular new buying experience. Live streaming creates a personal experience that engages your customers and creates an urgency to buy. Customers who are at home can connect with the virtual interaction and develop that loyalty they would get with an in-store experience. This seems to be specifically effective for one-of-a-kind and limited-edition items where you show the unique value.
HEALTH & WELLBEING REMAIN PRIMARY CONCERNS Illness, stress, long haulers, and the impact of our changing world continues to keep health and well-being top of mind for most consumers. Customers are looking for products, services, and information in personal care. Easily adaptable self-care solutions are in demand.
FAMILY, FRIENDS & RELATIONSHIP BUILDING Is a major motivating factor for today’s consumer. People are craving deeply personal experiences that remind them of and confirm their meaning of life. The reimagined consumer wants things that simplify life, bring ease to their buying decisions, have amazing personal service, build trust, promote well-being, and that have a positive impact upon the world. There is a new compassion for the world and the people who inhabit it.
As you create your strategy for next year, keep customer convenience as your driver. Stress levels have never been higher, confusion over what is true and what is a conspiracy, decision fatigue, and self-preservation create the need to simplify the buying process. This may involve a continual reimagining of your own business. Although this is not the new normal, it is the first foundational step into a new way of consumerism. Take small, regular steps toward incorporating what works for your business.