The world of retail continues to evolve at a rapid pace, introducing new retail trends each year. To help our retailer community anticipate and prepare for the state of retail in 2022, we’ve rounded up four big shifts in how customers shop—and what the retail industry can do to respond.
Hybrid shopping experiences
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 propelled consumer shopping behavior to shift further online. Last year, we predicted that hybrid shopping solutions—shopping experiences that mix both digital and physical channels—would be increasingly necessary, and this will continue to be true in the year to come. In 2022, buying a product online and picking it up in-store, using a mobile app to complete a purchase, or discovering a new boutique on Instagram will continue to be popular and common shopping habits.
This means that continuing to adopt an omnichannel presence will be essential for today’s retailers. More and more, consumers are using multiple channels to discover new products and services. According to a recent report from the Institute for Business Value (IBM) in association with the National Retail Federation (NRF), today’s customer shopping journey spans several channels, with 42% of surveyed consumers stating they learn about products on a website, 38% discover new products in-store and 32% discover them via social media. This split discovery journey shows that customer touchpoints are everywhere, and in 2022, retailers will need to be too.
Emphasis on social commerce
In recent years, a growing number of businesses have begun leveraging social media as a key buying and selling tool. Connecting with larger audiences via social media allows your business to reach potential customers around the world in an effective and cost-efficient manner.
In addition to serving as a channel for broadening your audience, social media today can also act as a direct sales channel. According to a recent report by Square, 74% of retailers sell products directly via platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. The same report found that 59% of customers made a direct purchase through social media in the prior month. In 2022, this retail trend is likely to continue growing, and for retailers looking to expand their reach via omnichannel sales strategies, establishing a social media presence is more important now than ever.
Elevated in-store experiences
Despite the rise in digital commerce, brick-and-mortar stores still remain an important facet of the retail industry. In fact, according to IBM’s report, nearly 3 in 4 consumers still rely on in-person shopping as part of their primary buying method. Additionally, new research from Forrester predicts that in 2024, 72% of U.S. retail sales will still occur in brick-and-mortar stores.
In 2022, consumers visiting retail stores in-person will be looking for a unique and high-quality experience. These elevated in-store experiences can range from impressive interior design, in-store entertainment, in-store exclusive events and discounts, and incorporating digital in-store technology like mobile checkout.
Additionally, brick-and-mortar stores will increasingly be a space to build customer loyalty, deepen customer relationships, and deliver excellent service. According to a report by Zendesk, 81% of customers say that a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to make another purchase, and 90% of customers say they’ll spend more with customers that personalize the customer service they offer them. This retail trend shows that in the coming year, customer retention will be just as important as customer acquisition.
Sustainable solutions and purpose-driven shopping
The modern consumer wants to know that their values align with those of the businesses and brands they shop from. From fair trade companies and locally made goods to eco-friendly businesses, customers in 2022 will continue to seek out experiences and products that support their values. These purpose-driven shoppers represent 44% of all consumers, according to IBM’s report. In addition, predictions by Forrester indicate that in 2022, more than 50% of adults around the world will regularly purchase from brands that align with their personal values.
One of the most prevalent of these values is sustainability. From eco-friendly products to sustainable shipping options, today’s consumers are eager to shop from businesses that work to ensure a low carbon footprint. According to IBM, 50% of consumers claim they’re willing to pay a premium for sustainability. In 2022, retailers should prioritize environmentally-friendly business practices like sustainable packaging or stocking eco-friendly goods, and communicate these efforts to customers.