Retail Lessons Learned in 2021 and Trends to Watch Out For in 2022
Are you ready to take on 2022?
As we wrap up the post-holiday season, it’s time to look back at the past year, as well as fasten our seatbelts and gear ourselves up towards the retail trend that will shape 2022 and the years after. If you haven’t done it before closing the year 2021, now is the best time to strategize the best ways to conquer 2022 by knowing what are the retail styles that are hot and trending today.
We all know that the pandemic has upended some trends and boosted others. What will 2022 look like for retailers?
Surviving 2020 and 2021
Both 2020 and 2021 were clearly impacted by the global crisis, albeit in different ways. In 2020, during the onset of the pandemic, physical businesses closed one after another, and stay-at-home orders created chaos for retailers. Nearly all businesses were running in survival mode, as some retailers had to squeeze out cash to stay afloat and others wobbling on the edge fell into bankruptcy because of the sudden plop in sales and liquidity.
In this regard, 2021 was a lot calmer. Instead of bankruptcies, the year was marked by the industry slightly stabilizing. Instead of mass temporary closures, retailers spent the year battling supply chain bottlenecks as demand came surging back from 2020, and introducing new perks to try and entice workers during a financial shortage. These are the new set of challenges retailers have to face in 2021.
As we look to the year ahead, we’ll be keeping our eyes open as to how the pandemic will continue to impact retailers. But before we can look at the biggest trends for this year, let’s take a look at the trends that won 2021 over.
The 4 Biggest 2021 Retail Trends
2021 was indeed an eventful year for retailers. We saw continued lockdowns, the introduction of vaccines that sparked great hope of finally ending the pandemic, deal with changing consumer behavior and disruptions in the supply chain. There was absolutely no way of telling what’s going to happen next.
1. Ecommerce in a steady growth
Although at a much slower pace compared to 2020’s record-breaking 32.4%, Ecommerce continued to see a steady growth throughout 2021. This doesn’t come as a surprise to us because even though we see stores gradually reopening when the lockdowns were lifted, it also indicates that pandemic habits are here to stay in the long run. People are not ready to leave their newfound pandemic shopping behavior just yet.
There is a similar trend going on in online retail. 64% of customers say that they enjoy the benefits of BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store), and 20% say they use it regularly, easily making it a top retail trend today.
However, although ecommerce may seem like the reigning Queen in 2020, 2021 proved that nothing quite beats the shopping experience in a physical store. Savvy retailers were able to thrive during the pandemic with local inventory advertising and shopping -by -appointment which gave customers the option to get in touch with local retails and shop safely for the benefit of both parties.
2. Retailers grappled with hiring as workers struggled
Have you heard about “The Great Resignation?” Yes, 2021 saw something very close to that. In the US alone, over 4 million employees quit their jobs last year, leaving companies scrambling to find workers to fill a record-breaking 10.9 million vacated positions. The Great Resignation, indeed.
The root cause of the Great Resignation stems from working conditions that are below average. During the pandemic, workers suffered with low wages and are receiving almost little to no benefits. Many retail workers were burned out, which led them to decide to walk out the door in search of better job opportunities.
For retailers, the labor shortage has translated to shorter hours of operation. Of course, this did not go well with shoppers’ ever growing demand for in-store shopping.
3. Shipping and supply chain delays emptied shelves
In such a difficult time in the retail industry, shoppers kept shopping, but unfortunately, retail supply chains were not always able to keep up with the growing demands. Shipping ports were not as functional as they used to be and mail systems were working over their capacity. As a result, many retailers saw longer wait times and skyrocketing shipping cost. For instance, the cost to ship goods from Asia to the US went from $2,000 in 2019 to a whooping, $25,000 in 2021.
4. POS technology became retailers’ ultimate best friend
The onset of the pandemic magnified the great need for technologies that work together to create a seamless shopping experience and streamline basic business processes. Customers wanted to shop easily both in-store and online, and retailers had to invest in the right tools to ensure stability and consistency across channels. So in 2021, POS made a conscious effort to up their game by developing several features like integrations with other softwares, accepting more modes of payments, etc.
The best POS systems were those that were intuitive and are able to let their retailers adapt to new changes fairly quickly and easily. Not only that, but be able to do the jobs that would usually require more staff, time and effort. Modern POS systems took this another step further by giving retailers the power to manage their entire business from one place, including their sales, inventory and analytics. Check out the benefits of Cloud-based POS.
Top 5 2022 Retail Predictions
What a bummer it is that we didn’t see the most awaited post-pandemic reopening we all had our fingers crossed for in 2021. Despite that, we saw a boom in local retail, gradual shop reopenings as shoppers and retailers struggled through the challenges the global crisis brought.
Now that the dust has settled, here’s how 2021’s roadblocks and transitions will evolve in 2022 and what trends to brace yourself with in the coming years.
1. 2021’s top retail trends will influence shopper behavior evolutions in 2022
We have seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior in just two years, and we don’t see this trend dying anytime soon. Customers have developed quite a relationship with online shopping as well as local delivery and pickup. Even almost as much as they love in-store shopping. On the other hand, retail businesses have started to cater to alternative ways to accept different forms of payment.
In this regard, make sure that your POS and other technologies that you work with in-store, can streamline these processes for you. A good POS system is one that is easily integrated to many other payment software systems and can process different modes of payment and transactions.
This signifies that small to mid-size businesses that have already invested in these fulfillment options or payment methods will certainly finding themselves at a headstart. Customers now expect retailers to offer more convenient, flexible options to shop and those who cannot meet these demands and expectations may miss out on so many profitable opportunities this year.
2. 2021’s hiring struggles will empower workers and retailers’ creativity
If it isn’t clear enough, The Great Resignation is telling us to provide better working conditions for employees, to keep them happy to stay and work in our stores.
To boost employee retention, some retailers have gone out of their way to increase their hourly wages and provide more benefits and company perks. US Retail tycoon Macy's have increased their employees’ minimum hourly wage to $15. Other retailers like Macy’s, Target and Walmart have started to offer education perks like free or discounted college tuition.
If you think you have to be a retail giant to give some love to your workers, you are wrong. Keeping them happy and feeling valued can be anything from offering higher pay to providing them with flexible schedules or clearer opportunities for career growth and development.
It’s important that you know what would make your employees more motivated and inspired to work at your shop, and having these perks and benefits can do wonders. Curate your perks to be beneficial to both your business and your employees, however that may look like.
3. Technology and automations will drastically improve shopper experience
At this point, technology and automations are the catalyst for business growth, both online and offline. In your food service business, this could be as simple as giving each wait staff a tablet to offer diners a more sophisticated and personalized ordering experience, by just punching their orders on your POS.
Do you want to improve your customer loyalty? A trusted POS system in your store got you. POS can monitor and record your customers’ purchase histories and personal information. This way, you can reward them for their loyalty and recurring engagement to your brand. Keeping your current customers feeling valued is a monumental step in driving sales, and added word of mouth marketing.
With a reliable and intuitive source of data right at their fingertips, your employees will be more than happy to work with these automated systems that not only saves time and effort, but also minimizes human error. It’s as simple as 1 +1, happy employees equals happier and more satisfied customers.
Nowadays, developments in business technology and automations are becoming aggressively better, assuring more opportunities for running your business more effectively and efficiently.
So if you aren’t currently utilizing either strategy, you’re more likely to see growth after adopting.
4. In-Store Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) was hot and serving in 2021, and will continue to be a booming trend in 2022. The main difference between last year and this year will be that BNPL options will now be offered at registers in physical stores, rather than just online. Customers are enjoying paying for their items in interest-free installments, so brick and mortar retailers and BNPL service providers will heighten this trend in an in-person experience as a response.
In 2021, it was reported that only 66% of small businesses in the U.S. accepted mobile payments and 58% accepted contactless payment methods. Compare this with 70% of customers demanding contactless payment options, and it’s clear that to survive this year, retailers need to keep up with these technologies to meet expectations. Alternative payment types will be a crucial area of growth and modernization for the retail industry.
5. Supply chain might continue to struggle
The retail supply chain was not prepared to face the drastic changes that the pandemic brought. It was hard to admit it at first, but we were all caught off guard. If there was one place that hit the most prevalent impact, that would be in the production and distribution sectors. Production and delivery timelines have significantly changed, leaving big inventory gaps in retailers in the industry.
Unfortunately, this is expected to continue this 2022 and may even last well into 2023. However, retailers can still maintain some control over monitoring their inventory counts. For example, getting notifications about low stock alerts, or having the ability to move inventory between warehouses, multiple locations, and between your eCommerce and physical locations will be key to keeping customers happy. Offering flexible delivery and shipment options is also a smart way to ensure customers get their products as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Here’s another tip. A great way to lessen your reliance to selling goods is to consider selling services as well. For example, if you are a bakery, you may consider offering basic baking classes. By the way, baking is one of the most popular hobbies picked up by many during the pandemic. This is a great added item or added value to your current business offerings, sure to bring in more profits while we cope with the unreliable physical inventory situation.
Ready to take on 2022?
Retail is ever-changing and it’s just about to get more exciting in the coming months. One of the best things you can do for your customers and employees is equip them with better tools to make shopping more accessible. With the right POS in hand, you are ensured to save more time, money and effort with heightened profitability this year.
Edited by Chooli
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