Adobe has published its 2021 Retail Trends Report which outlines some key insights and strategies of top-performing brands. The report highlights how some retailers used the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to connect with new prospects. The Econsultancy and Adobe report is based on the responses of multichannel and online-only retailers to the 2021 Digital Trends survey. It explores the strategies and tactics being prioritised by companies in the retail sector. The report also explores the differences between top performing companies and those in the mainstream.
A changed landscape for retailers
The report notes the pandemic disrupted store openings and product availability. As a result, causing customers to establish new behaviour patterns and brand loyalties. Adobe suggests retailers that get it right have an opportunity to emerge from COVID-19 in better shape than ever.
According to Alvaro Del Pozo, Vice President, International Marketing, Adobe “The dramatic events of 2020 have acted as an accelerant for digital transformation. Topics that were years away from consideration are now at the top of today’s agenda. Whether demand for their products and services has increased or decreased, businesses are all grappling with the same challenges. Remote working, new digital customers, the need for greater convenience, changes in buying behaviour, their employees’ and their customers’ well-being. More than two-thirds of companies with top-tier customer experience (CX) functions outpaced their sectors in the second half of 2020. Furthermore, they were three times more likely to have ‘significantly outpaced’ their sectors than the rest of the sample.”
The report highlights how omnichannel strategies that embrace both digital interactions and traditional retail environments are crucial for success. It notes organisations need an integrated technology that enables them to combine a growing range of data sources. This will be required to form a single view of the consumer.
Key findings from the report include:
Brick-and-mortar retailers focus on adapting or transforming traditional stores to support eCommerce, while doubling down on mobile. 47% of multichannel retailers report that their main physical location strategy for this year will be opening hybrid stores. These stores will serve the needs of both in-store and online shoppers. Multichannel retailers are also doubling down on the mobile experience. With mobile ordering (49%) and mobile applications (40%) the top-two priority areas for investment.
Retailers are responding to the challenge of changing consumer behaviour. 57% of retail respondents agree they had unusual freedom to experiment and innovate in marketing over the second-half of 2020. Almost four in five (79%) say they have been unusually agile and able to take actions quickly. The best-performing retailers are significantly more likely than the mainstream to describe their culture as a collaborative working environment. This is where every individual is valued and communication is a top priority. (33% for top performing retailers vs 23% for the mainstream).
Personalisation and AI will be crucial
Personalisation will be crucial for delivering better customer experiences. 75% of respondents say that personalising in-store experiences based on online behaviours will be either ‘important’ (39%). Or ‘critically important’ (36%) for meeting customer expectations. Highlighting the need for a fully rounded view of customers to connect across different channels and in different environments.
AI will be instrumental for meeting customer expectations. Machine learning and AI will play a growing role in helping companies make more informed decisions. Particularly regarding stock volume as customer demand fluctuates. According to the research, 44% of top-performing retailers regard AI as critical for meeting omnichannel customer expectations. This compares to only 30% of mainstream companies.
The report concludes that retailers need to be agile in the face of unprecedented disruption. COVID-19 provides the catalyst to innovate and transform organisational structures and processes that are no longer fit for purpose. Agile organisations will be able to evolve in response to shifting customer trends. As a result, they will reap the rewards of positive customer relationships and higher revenues.
The report also advises that retailers also need to innovate through mobile and digital self-service. Omnichannel retailers need to focus on hybrid strategies, restructuring their brick-and-mortar stores into eCommerce hubs for click and collect.
Enterprise Times: What this means for business?
For traditional retailers, the pandemic has meant a year of reduced or non-existent footfall. Many brick-and-mortar stores are still in survival mode after a prolonged period of uncertainty. At the same time, there’s been a surge in online retail. A decade of change happened almost overnight as businesses adapted, with eCommerce now accounting for 33% of all retail transactions. Adobe’s report is quite interesting. It shares practical insights and a glimpse into the future. From transforming traditional stores into hybrid businesses to the latest trends in customer behaviour. Retailers have faced unprecedented challenges in the last year.
The need to rapidly pivot their business model and embrace new requirements such as social distancing. It has forced closures by national, local and state government for some organisations. All enterprises have had to adapt to shifting consumer trends. For retailers that get it right, there is a huge opportunity to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis in better shape than ever.