Retail has experienced a major shift. The foundations of the retail industry have been shaken. The world’s consumers are adapting their lives, buying differently and working differently. As the post-pandemic dust begins to settle, it’s time to examine what all these changes mean for businesses in 2022 and beyond. What global and local trends will continue to influence industry operations, determine strategies and shape future goals, thanks to evolving consumer behavior?
Retail transformation is influenced by consumer behavior
Our latest Retail Report research with KPMG shows that globally, 67% of businesses across the retail, food and beverage, and hospitality sectors grew in revenue by 20% or more in 2021. This is due in large part to the rapid growth of digital transformation investments, which were made in response to changing shopper needs and local regulations. Our research shows that 49% of merchants believe their business is better off because of investments made to improve operations during the pandemic. 94% of businesses intend to continue investing in 2022.
The change has been noticed by consumers too. 61% of respondents believe that retailers made their products readily available to the public during the pandemic. But there’s still a long way to go. Having experienced retail’s recent rush of resourcefulness, innovation, and flexibility, consumers around the world now expect more from their shopping experiences.
Here are five key consumer expectations that are worth strategic consideration in retail right now:
1. Shopping across channels more seamless
Flexible, tech-driven experiences that were made available during the pandemic blur the lines between sales channels. This is allowing for nonlinear customer journeys and a blurring of the distinction between them. Our data shows that 61% believe retailers should offer the same flexibility across channels as they did during the pandemic. Online retailers are more popular with 55% of consumers.
This shopping preference presents significant opportunities for loyalty building, revenue growth and brand building. However, many businesses may not be able to take advantage of these opportunities. While 61% of consumers would be more loyal to a retailer that lets them buy things online and return in store – up from 54% in 2020 – only 28% of businesses say they enable customers to shop and complete transactions easily across online and offline channels. In order to close this expectation gap, businesses should consider exploring unified commerce solutions, connecting sales channels, consolidating payments, and breaking down silos for a more modern customer experience.