2021 Retail Trends That Will Impact Your Financial Success

Graham Ericksen, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer

Graham Ericksen

Partner | Chief Strategy Officer

Shoppers waiting in line

Every industry was impacted by the effects of COVID-19 in 2020, but many would argue that no industry was more affected than retail. The introduction of social distancing and pandemic protocols has dramatically changed the face of retail forever. This may not be for the worse. Contrary to mid-April projections of a retail slowdown, consumers’ switch to non-contact channels actually resulted in a 27.6% growth rate in 2020 for the industry as a whole. 

So, if retail isn’t dead, how has it changed? And what will it look like at the end of 2021? Here are 3 retail trends that we believe to be the key to financial success in 2021.

E-commerce will continue to dominate

Though the worst of the pandemic may (hopefully) be behind us, its effects certainly are not. As brick and mortar locations continue to close, e-commerce platforms continue to grow. And while it is estimated the growth rate of e-commerce will slow, its dominance will continue. According to a Thomas report, e-commerce is only expected to take a bigger and bigger share of retail as time goes on. The report estimates that e-commerce’s percentage of global retail sales will grow to 25% in 2021. This figure is more significant in markets where e-commerce is particularly accessible, like North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. Though, this differs dramatically between countries. 

As a retailer, it might be time to start investing heavily in an online presence as opposed to a physical one. Though, there may still be hope for physical locations – but perhaps not in their traditional form.

Transformation of brick-and-mortar locations

For a long time, the growth of brick-and-mortar locations outpaced that of e-commerce. But with social restrictions looking like they will continue well into 2021, there may be a transition in how physical store locations are used. Some experts believe that the future of brick-and-mortar locations will involve selling experiences as opposed to products. Much like how high-fashion brands like Gucci and Prada use their expensive storefronts as advertisements for their products rather than a profitable place of business. But this may not be a long-term predicament, either.

Consumers have begun to express a sense of dissatisfaction with their online shopping experiences. For example, as early as July of 2020, 15% of consumers across a global survey reported that they were happy with their current e-commerce interactions. The other 85% were not as content. 

Curbside pick-up could save physical stores

A major theme running through all these trends is that the effects of COVID-19 on retail are going to both revert and stay the same. One of the retail features that might continue well into 2021 is curbside pick-up. A recent Retail Dive report detailed that 59% of the consumers it interviewed expressed interest in using curbside pickup after the pandemic. That is a really encouraging statistic, as curbside pick-up combines the benefits of in-person experiences with the convenience of online shopping.

If the state of retail is still changing, then how are you supposed to market your business? Leave that to the experts at Modus to figure out. To learn more about how we can help grow your business’s online presence in 2021, contact us today.

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