2021 proved that retail continues to grow and is not about to implode, as some believed a year earlier. Still, retail revival defined the year. The biggest takeaway from 2021 is the shift to e-commerce; consumers have embraced online shopping with vigor and retailers have responded with the speedy rollout of new technologies, new apps and new ways of meeting shoppers’ needs.
In part due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the changes in consumer behavior that have accompanied it, consumers have shifted their retail expectations and preferences. Today’s consumers have increasingly high expectations for their retail experiences. Jumping seamlessly between web, mobile, and in-store, they expect interactions to be contextual, consistent, and relevant to them. Connecting via multiple touchpoints, they expect retailers to know who they are, anticipate their needs, and guide them to their desired outcome – whatever the channel. This has opened up entirely new fronts in the competition for customers and elevated new winners over incumbents.
This is a real moment for retailers to deliver on omnichannel, marketing and personalization ambitions. The retail experience emerging in 2021 suggests that the most successful retailers will be those that connect and engage with consumers in new ways by leaning in on customer-centric personalization approach to drive growth – personalization that starts with the customer first and the channel second – helping ensure that the customer receives a highly personalized and consistent one-to-one experience regardless of which channel they choose for engagement. As brands vie for consumer attention in increasingly competitive digital environments, it is more important than ever to build real engagement with consumers and offer real value, and marketing technology optimization and innovation will be key.
The question for marketers: What’s new? What’s next?