Top Trends in Retail Sector to Lookout for in 2021

Technology | 2 minutes to read

22nd Dec, 2020

A global pandemic has drastically changed the way consumers live, communicate, shop and work. Covid-19 has roiled supply chains, altered customer’s purchase decisions and impacted retail in more than one way. It skewed online shopping and transitioned the retail industry into a more digital and internet-driven sector. The majority of the brick and mortar stores have adapted digital ways of shopping without compromising on the in-personal experience.

According to a recent report published by Adobe, 2020 will be the banner year for the e-commerce sector. It estimates that $189 billion will be spent online especially during the holiday shopping season (up 33% year over year). And 2021 also promises to be one of the most profitable years for digitally native merchants.

On that note, here are top retailing predictions for the coming year:

Personalised Online Shopping

Video calls have become a new mode of communication. We all have started connecting with each other virtually either for professional or personal purposes. Retailers have now started to realise the importance of video calling as a consultation and sales tool. If a person wants to buy a laptop or a washing machine, he or she can directly connect with the sales representative at their convenience. This can be after work, over the weekends, or late at night.

Apart from convenience, virtual consultation makes it possible to share product videos, demonstrate the product’s functions, and boost trust. Retailers have started to understand the importance of virtual brand consultation as it can work wonders for all kinds of products and services.

Increase in AI customer-facing

AI-driven big data has been maturing for many years now, with the majority of the retailers relying on advanced analytics to understand what kind of items to be stocked in their stores. Earlier robots were used in inventory management, now in 2021, we can expect to see them taking over the shop floor too.  Retailers will now focus more on AI marketing outreach to increase their customer numbers, self-isolating customers and increasing conversions.

AI-powered voice recognition technology has improved a lot and now it is truly adding value to both offline and online modes of shopping. It is becoming very common to use our voices to control our devices or search anything on the internet. In 2021, we will be increasingly using them to search and buying things online. Hence the retailers will have to build their infrastructure to adapt to the changing habits of their customers.

Brick and mortar stores delivering at home

As earlier mentioned, it is the brick and mortar stores that have be adversely affected by the pandemic, and of course, they are not going to go down without giving a tough fight. Even now, with all the digitalisation, the fastest way to get your hands on the essential grocery items is to drive to the nearby stores. Keeping that in mind, local brick and mortar stores are still the most convenient option of getting items quickly. Brick and mortar stores do not have the logistics problem often faced by the e-commerce behemoths across the globe. Since they already have the real estate that ecommerce-first companies don’t have, brick-and-mortar companies are uniquely positioned to solve this problem. Therefore, we can witness a lot of brick and mortar stores tying up with Amazon and Walmart to deliver items directly to their customers’ home within a couple of hours extensively in 2021.

Drone –deliveries becoming the next in thing

We all know that online shopping has witnessed an exponential increase this year, all thanks to COVID 19, which caused major physical stores to be closed down across the globe. With such online boom, retailers have now started to think about innovative ways for delivery – including drone deliveries.

For instance, recently according to a report, budget airlines like SpiceJet, Reliance-backed drone start-up Asteria Aerospace, etc. have received approvals from the aviation regulator to test fly drones. Therefore, this trend is bound to become more prevalent moving forward, as it goes without saying that the key to successful retail output is implementation of new and innovative technology. As technology secures the future of the retailer in case of sudden consumer behavioural shift.

So, fasten your seat belts everyone! 2021 will be an interesting and life changing year for the entire retail ecosystem.

This article originally appeared here.

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