The past year brought massive changes to customers’ shopping behavior, and meeting these increased expectations is now a necessity for retail store owners to fulfil. According to a recent study, 41% of customers have shifted to online shopping during the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic rules also restricted companies from using traditional marketing approaches. However, many companies have begun to embrace the omnichannel selling approach, which is customer-centric and provides unified shopping experiences throughout all channels. Omnichannel retailing essentially combines all channels to provide a seamless customer experience, increased consumer retention and satisfaction.
According to a study by CustomerThink, retailers who have embraced a robust omnichannel strategy will experience a 9.5% increase in annual revenue compared to just 3.4% for retailers still operating with weak omnichannel strategies. These numbers make omnichannel retail strategies worth considering.
What does 2021 Hold for the Retail Industry?
The COVID-19 crisis has driven an unexpected transformation to the retail industry with the shift to e-commerce, enhanced use of technology, and more. Here are the top retail forecasts for the year ahead.
Enhanced Omnichannel Experience
The retail industry is most conscious of the opportunity to deliver consistent, seamless, and fluid customer journeys. Omnichannel provides a unified customer experience throughout all channels. It enables consumers to engage, discover, research, buy, and get post-purchase support through any channel. This trend has made retail companies consider omnichannel strategies. An enhanced strategy would involve everything from the synchronization of stock, online and offline loyalty point collection, real-time inventory updates and redemption, and unified customer service channels. In the coming years, retailers who implement these strategies and other innovative omnichannel developments will differentiate themselves from their competitors and get a better chance of succeeding.
Accelerated Digital Transformation
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, reliance on technology has grown significantly, which is more likely to continue in the coming years. Businesses faced several adverse situations during the pandemic, which they don’t want to face again. Having suffered these disruptions, retailers are actively seeking solutions, where investing in digital transformation can help. As retailers shift to focus on delivering valuable experiences through omnichannel, advancing digital options from pop-up shops, live streaming, and subscription services is a top priority.
Digitalization of Payments
A digital payments infrastructure is a necessity of the growing digital economy. The year 2020 bought some massive changes in industries, and so the urgency for digitalization. Due to this, a shift to digital payments has been driven to the fore, making the process of initiating payments easier and faster for end-users. Industries that adapt to digital payments faster are more likely to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic and ultimately succeed economically.
Top Omnichannel Marketing Trends for the Future of Retail
As customers have already accepted the reality of the new normal, companies should also consider this long-term change in customer behavior. Looking at the complexity and diversity of omnichannel retailing, the retail companies should consider using an omnichannel approach to solidify their position in the retail industry’s future. Here are the top omnichannel marketing trends that will shape the future of the retail industry in 2021.
1) Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing was all about heavily edited product shots, cautiously constructed captions, selfies, and videos. But during 2020, the way brands and influencers work together has changed incredibly. On social media, authenticity is one of the most powerful ways to build a digital community. Influencer content has gradually transitioned to a real aesthetic and raw, which will continue in the coming years. Bloggers and influencers apply subtle edits to their videos and photos to create an unedited look. In the coming years, the trend of #nofilter will be more focused than ever.
Influencer marketing is all set to become a 15-billion-dollar industry by 2022, and it shows no sign of slowing down. 63% of marketers expect to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
Sony Mobile France used Instagram to promote its new Instagram account, ‘@sonyxperia.’ The Sony Xperia Z5 has the most powerful camera. They created the first zoom on Instagram encouraging Instagram users to appreciate the power of the phone’s camera. They took a highly detailed zoom photo in Z5 and cut it into hundreds of smaller shots organized in five layers. The company also created over 100 Instagram accounts and tied them together by tags, which let you zoom into any part of the real photo and discover over 50 hidden surprises. Sony then used 30 influencers to help spread the photos as part of a competition where people could zoom in five times on parts of the original photo to find a secret code, which was a highly successful campaign.
2) Social Selling with Video Content
Video content continues to be an ongoing trend in influencer marketing. With the introduction to Instagram Reels, it is expected to be more creative and collaborative than ever. Videos will be an important medium for influencer partnerships. It keeps viewers more engaged, and a stronger authenticity makes people feel connected and part of the action. In 2021, with many brick-and-mortar stores closed, shoppers can’t try on apparel or test out gadgets in-store, where the video is going to be the next best thing.
Consumers spend about one-third of their time online watching videos. And, 85% of customers are more likely to buy products online when they’ve watched a video about the product. That shows this is a perfect time for social selling via videos.
If you represent your brand’s voice that knows what’s up in the youth and your brand is as excited as everyone else is, then you know how to engage your target audience. Game of Thrones was the most hyped this spring that even those who weren’t much interested in the show somehow got into the discussion. Oreo made something instantly clickable and shareable by recreating the title sequence using just Oreos. Of course, anyone staring at Oreos for this long can’t control their cravings.
3) Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling
Multi-channel attribution comprises the process of determining channels that convert customers the most. It awards each online channel for sales based on its role in the customers’ buying journey. It also analyzes several interactions within a single channel. With an omnichannel approach, marketers will verify how their online campaigns are resulting in offline sales. Companies having multiple sales channels can track and analyze data to get a more holistic view of customer journeys.
Different multi-channel attribution models include “Last-Click vs. the First-Click Attribution.” Last-Click attribution looks at the last action taken by a customer before making a purchase. Whereas the First-Click attribution examines the first action taken by a customer before making a purchase.
4) Shoppable Videos
You may have discovered this fact before, but a study says that the average person’s attention span is just 8 seconds. It requires your content to be instantly attention-grabbing. By incorporating interactive features in your video, you have an excellent chance of converting a passive viewer into an active customer. A survey discovered that viewers were 66% more engaged when watching an interactive video.
We all are familiar with the trend of tapping on an Instagram post to buy any products or services. According to a survey, 71% of people are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Social media is a great selling platform that can influence shopping decisions. Amazon already has its own shoppable video experience called Amazon Live, where influencers post live videos, review, or talk about products available for purchase on Amazon. It incorporates links to the featured products and a real-time chat function for more interaction. Shoppable video is a robust omnichannel solution that can help marketers target specific segments without feeling intrusive.
Intermarché, the brand of a general commercial French supermarket, has one of the best shoppable video examples with a focus on shoppable ads. The brand proved that shoppable videos aren’t restricted to the fashion industry, but the smallest products like canned carrots can also show great results through shoppable ads. Intermarché, one of the most prominent performers in the French retail market, did this with a short and sweet shoppable video ad. They used a video of only 20 seconds to advertise canned carrots, with the focus on a strong copy that uses quick and funky music to make the experience fun and dynamic. Also, they added a simple but easily visible call to action on top of the video. This shows a great example of a shoppable video.
5) AR Powered Shopping Experiences
Machine learning, Augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are here to expedite our lives. As per the Nielsen global survey, consumers listed Augmented and Virtual Reality as the leading technologies they’re seeking to serve them in their daily lives, with 51% saying they would be willing to use AR technology to assess products. This shows it as an essential part of retailers’ e-commerce offerings.
As the pandemic restrictions have led shoppers to rely on online shopping, retailers are leveraging AR technology to fill the gap between the digital and the physical. Brands like Home Depot, IKEA, and Target all have proprietary AR shopping experiences. Shopify has introduced Shopify AR, an easy-to-use toolkit for businesses that helps them create their own AR experiences to exhibit their products. Shopify states that interactions with products having AR content presented a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.
Timberland placed a magic mirror outside its store, allowing customers to try on clothing digitally. This is an excellent idea for brands that are launching new ranges or driving seasonal sales. Also, during Covid-19 people when people can’t go out and try on clothes, this magic mirror is a great solution.
The retail industry needs a sensible approach to the omnichannel strategy for enhanced customer experience and improved ROI. Companies that consider customer experience an essential factor of corporate strategy draw substantial value from omnichannel retailing.
Setting up an omnichannel solution is a complicated process, but retail companies can implement it with ease with a strong strategy. The omnichannel retail trends in 2021 will help you implement an effective omnichannel strategy with your e-commerce setup.