What does 2021 look like for retail?

According to research by the Retail Doctor Group (RDG), 26 per cent of consumers now prefer to shop online, with the beauty, homewares and electronics sectors all seeing a boost in sales since July this year.

While less people are visiting bricks and mortar and shopping centres, conversion to purchase instore has increased―up to 80 per cent of retail purchases are pre-researched in advance and consumers are increasingly educated prior to making a purchase.

As online shopping continues to grow, retailers are looking to add value through offering a more experiential online interaction including virtual consultations and augmented reality (AR)―63 per cent of consumers are interested in using AR when buying

The increased usage of subscription services, delivery services and online retail, in general, will definitely continue and become part of everyday life. While 67 per cent of consumers want retailers to save them time hence the increasing popularity of ecommerce, there is still the need for social interaction so consumers will still be gravitating towards physical retail for the emotional experience.

Click and collect has seen steady growth, with one in five consumers utilising this option in the last month. This trend will continue as customers have embraced this frictionless experience and it has become the norm.

There is also the rise of Shoptimism, where customers are treating themselves after a turbulent year and this is done with low value, feel-good products, generally where the experience of the purchase is bringing them joy as well as the product purchased.

So what can we expect to see in 2021? According to RDG, the continued rise of click and collect―with parcel lockers meaning you can collect your shopping from any location, not just the retailer. This extreme convenience has become the norm for consumers and will become further advanced and refined e.g. parcel lockers for collecting shopping at transport hubs―possibly even collecting your takeaway dinner on your way home from a locker at your local train station. Customers are now used to extreme convenience and how they can save time so they can utilise it on more valued experiences.

This extreme convenience will include further increased use of pre-research and purchase prior to in-store purchase, says RDG. There will be increased use of AR to try products at home prior to deciding to touch and feel at the point of sale. Customers will still want the physical experience as this provides ‘fun’ and social interaction, however, they will be much more educated before they ever set foot outside the house.