3 post-pandemic trends redefining retail in 2023
After years of ever-shifting pandemic change, it's clear consumers want the in-store experiences they’ve been missing.
Once-skyrocketing online sales have settled back to pre-pandemic levels and in-person sales are making a comeback overall (up 10 percent in 2022, according to Mastercard).
Over Thanksgiving weekend, retailers saw a big uptick of in-store shoppers. More than 122.7 million people visited brick-and-mortar stores over the weekend, up 17% from 2021, according to the National Retail Federation.
Revamped brick-and-mortar stores present new opportunities for post-pandemic growth, especially for ecommerce brands, according to Shopify's 2022 Future of Retail industry report.
E-commerce pivots to in-person shopping experiences
Some digitally native direct-to-consumer brands, such as Casper and Glossier, are experimenting with physical stores to win over customers — and weather uncertain economic conditions.
More online-only retailers likely will to follow suit in pursuit of profitability. That's setting up an industry shift, according to Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Brendan Witcher.
He predicts direct-to-consumer brands will need to choose at least one of the following options to thrive in the coming year: open physical stores, expand wholesale partnerships, create attractive shop-in-shop locations, or close their (virtual) doors.
The surge of online brands into offline channels means retailers need to create a smooth and engaging customer experience across channels, says Shopify. The winners will be those who balance growth strategies with tactics to prioritize a unique, seamless and tech-enabled customer experience, whether purchasing in-store or from the couch.
"Consumers are craving opportunities to shop in person, but they expect the buying experience to be consistent both online and off," says Shopify.
- Hands-off tech: Shoppers are becoming less hands on, and more tech-enabled, says Shopify. As a result, more stores are turning to mobile or automated solutions. Technologies such as contactless checkout, in-store mobile robotics, handheld POS devices, and even smart shopping carts are gaining traction with major retailers.
- Pricing automation: E-commerce companies should consider automating their pricing process if they have not already, says Forbes Technology Council member Burc Tanir. Retail automation can quickly generate live competitor pricing data points, and negate the risk of costly pricing errors.
- Better employee experiences: To retain the best retail employees, employers should focus on improving the overall employee experience, especially their interactions with technology. Set workers up for success with better training in tech advancements like virtual shopping, live chat, and curbside pickup.
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