If the past two years have taught the retail industry anything, it’s to meet the unexpected, eye-to-eye, with more of the unexpected.
Unexpected as in surprising channels, unpredictable brand partnerships and even a dose of the expected. Because consumer desires have not changed; they still want shopping to be stress-free, convenient, personalized and a good value. But here’s the opportunity: When asked to rank how much 14 major retailers care about them, in terms of value and understanding, shoppers gave an average score of just seven out of 10, according to research by WSL Strategic Retail, in New York.
The reason may be that consumer expectations continue to evolve in unexpected ways. The most cost-effective methods for maintaining relevance in 2022, therefore, will hinge on consumer understanding.
Welcome 2022: We Were Expecting You
Meeting the unexpected with the expected requires a review of the basics: Namely, how shoppers are using stores, what cements their purchase decisions and how they pay. These five trends embody activities and services that click with consumers, through novelty, ease or necessity.
1. Shopping in the stream will bring live retail therapy. Livestreaming – real-time, interactive video streams that sell products, often on social platforms – bring in-store personal service to the screen by enabling viewers to comment during the events. Women’s apparel chain Chico’s now livestreams on Facebook with regularity, as does Saks Fifth Avenue. Among Saks’s recent styling streams: a live wedding suite event with celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger featuring dresses from designers Carolina Herrera, David Koma, Alexander Gaultier and Manolo Blahnik. We can expect retail livestreaming events will be embedded features in social media: In early November, Instagram announced a series of live broadcasts featuring exclusive product launches, hosted by influencers.
2. Malls emerge in stores for a mini revival. Traditional malls may be closing, but a scaled-down version is emerging among big-name chains through store-within-a-store (SWAS) formats. Unlike the Starbucks in the supermarket, however, in-store co-branding will be taken to a more sophisticated, digitally-driven level in 2022. Take the Hy-Vee store in Grimes, Iowa, which is formatted to operate like a mini mall with a digital footprint so it can meet large-scale needs. Its partnerships include an express-sized DSW shoe store and an exercise equipment showroom by Johnson Fitness & Wellness, both of which offer a broad range of goods customers can order by scanning a QR code. The Grimes store also includes a W Nail Bar and a food hall. Other notable partnerships that are rolling through 2022 include those between Target and Ulta (as well as Apple) and Nordstrom and Tonal training systems.
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