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The Future of Retail: Trends, Insights, and Recommendations

The pandemic brought massive changes in the retail sector. With many parts of the world gradually opening up, consumers are looking for opportunities to shop in person and want their shopping experience to be consistent both online and offline. This means that businesses need to figure out their omnichannel strategy to deliver a smooth shopping experience across different channels.


Keeping these changes in perspective, Shopify has come up with a report based on an in-depth analysis of exclusive survey data from businesses and consumers across the globe. The report highlights three major trends from the retail industry that offer unparalleled insights into the future of retail.


Here are the major highlights of the report.


Trend 1. Digitally native brands drive retail competition.


Merchants will prioritize experiential retail to drive foot traffic and customer loyalty.


Key Takeaways


  • The rise in demand for in-store shopping.

In-store shopping is picking up again since stores have started reopening after lockdowns and vaccination rates are on the rise. As a result, 32% of brands said that they’d be establishing or expanding their use of in-person experiences in the next year. 31% of the brands also planned upon expanding their retail footprint.


  • Increased competition in physical retail means brands must create unique experiences to stand out.

Retail brands need to invest more in creating exceptional in-person shopping experiences to stand out. But almost 57% of the brands said that coordinating experiential retail would be a major challenge in the future, especially with 95% of the consumers expecting retailers to have COVID safety protocols in place.


  • Brick-and-mortar stores reach more customers while reducing acquisition costs.

Digitally native brands that get their brick-and-mortar solution right will not only get the chance to capitalize upon a large segment of consumers looking for in-person shopping but also lower their customer acquisition costs.



How to create experiential moments that win over customers.


  • Use pop-up shops to test consumer demand for physical retail

  • Analyze customer data to test and learn

  • Find the pop-up format that’s right for your business


Trend 2. The post-pandemic customer journey will bring about the next phase of omnichannel shopping.


Retailers must integrate in-store and online experiences or risk extinction.


Key Takeaways

  • Omnichannel commerce surfaces as the new normal.

As shoppers continue returning to stores, the lines between online shopping and in-person buying have blurred. 54% of consumers say that over the next year, they are likely to purchase a product from a store after looking it up online. And 53% of consumers would look for a product in the store and then purchase it online.



  • Brands will be challenged by higher customer expectations, more pressure, and the need to pivot to a retention mindset.

49% of brands view the breaking down of organizational silos between online and physical stores as one of their biggest challenges over the next year. On the other hand, 47% of the retailers say the unification of online and in-store data and operations will be their biggest hurdle.



  • The right omnichannel strategy can increase average order values and customer loyalty.

Brands that manage to leverage technology to unify channels and to create an omnichannel strategy will have a competitive edge that will help them win and retain more customers.


How to succeed in the next phase of omnichannel commerce.


  • Turn your retail store into a showroom to improve brand discovery and awareness

  • Make sure the sale is connected to your physical store

  • Unify your customer and product data to provide a consistent customer experience across channels


Trend 3. Consumer and employee expectations push brands to reimagine the retail staff role.


Brands that figure out staff retention will have the edge on customer retention.


Key Takeaways


  • Brands reimagine the retail staff role with the rise of live chat and virtual shopping.

The importance of customer experience today can be gauged from the fact that 58% of consumers made repeat purchases from the same brand over the last year. This led to 44% of the brand increasing their employees’ interaction time with their consumers over the next year.



  • If retailers don’t reimagine the store staff role, finding and retaining employees will be difficult.

The role that employees play in the success of a store has spurred 40% of brands to improve their employee acquisition and retention strategies. And despite stores opening up, retailers will continue to struggle with the fallout of the pandemic-induced layoffs. 49% of the brands say that the acquisition and retention of employees will be a major challenge next year.


  • Happy and engaged employees lead to loyal customers.

Hiring and training staff in emerging technologies will lead to an enhanced customer experience. 54% of consumers purchased from the same brand in the last year because they could easily reach the customer service on the channel of their choice.


How to improve the employee experience and meet customer expectations.


  • Create more specialized roles and increase compensation to match.

  • Make sure you’re providing a healthy work environment for employees.


Wrapping Up

The changes in the retail sector demand brands to come up with new retail strategies to thrive. With an evolution in the role of retail store employees, there is a growing demand for higher compensation and better working conditions amongst the staff. Retailers need to adapt to these demands to attract and retain skilled employees who can meet customer expectations. This will subsequently contribute to enhancing the overall customer experience which is the stepping stone for success in any industry.


To delve deeper into the findings of the report, click here.


Stay tuned for another insightful Shopify report on the future of shipping and logistics next week.