Blog Article

Retail Industry Trends to Watch in 2021

Author: Zakry Chami

News flash: 2020 and COVID-19 changed everything for the retail industry and there is no going back.  Without question, the accelerated adoption of e-commerce was the biggest retail transformation to come from the pandemic and will be the cornerstone for retail industry trends in the years ahead. 


Online shopping shatters predictions

Consumers embraced online shopping faster than ever predicted. Back in 2019, trend reports forecasted that e-commerce would make up 24% of total retail sales by 2024. In July 2020, 33% of retail sales were a result of online shopping. In other words, the first half of last year saw an increase in e-commerce equivalent to that of the previous 10 years! 

Looking forward, many of the new online habits and shopping behaviours consumers adopted during quarantine will be sticking around. This permanent shift has some businesses racing to catch up while others are ready to open the door to new opportunities. 

With the great acceleration in technology and digitization moving full speed ahead, let’s take a look at five retail industry trends to watch in 2021.

1. Giving back

More than ever, retail customers are looking for ways to give back. 2020 forced everyone to stay close to home and that created a romantic resurgence to shop local, support small businesses, and help charitable causes. 

Philanthropy and cause marketing will be a winning strategy for retail business owners in 2021. So much so, that Paystone formed a strategic partnership with Unity Values to give businesses the ability to provide loyalty members with the option to convert loyalty points to dollars that can be donated to charity.  

According to Shopify data, 49% of customers positively respond to retailers who make a charitable donation with an online or in-store purchase. This next-level customer engagement technology not only helps build a stronger community connection through local charities, but it also gives retailers a new way to drive customer acquisition and retention.

2. More ways to pay

Customers have individual needs when it comes to payment methods. If a customer can’t pay for your goods and services based on their preferences, they will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere. This is especially true for online shopping. 

The centralization of payments will be a turning point for retailers this year. From contactless payments in physical stores to digital wallets, offering customers a variety of ways to pay is beneficial to your business. It will help increase conversion rates on mobile devices, and perhaps more importantly, your customers can check out faster and easier.

Don’t lose a potential sale or the lifetime value of a loyal customer! With flexible payment processing, you can give your customers the convenience of paying inside, outside, online or on-the-go.


3. Personalization

Consumer confidence and economic uncertainty was a global theme in 2020. Personalized communications and interactions will play a role at helping customers feel confident in spending again. Small and large retail business owners that can personalize messaging will win over customers and a larger share of sales.  

To be clear, personalization is way more than calling your customer by name in an email. It’s about anticipating your customer’s needs based on activity, curating personalized experiences, and transforming digital communications into engaging and meaningful conversations. 

According to a global survey conducted by Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. The marketing automation tools included with Paystone’s engagement software are designed to personalize every customer conversation and even send Happy Birthday messages so you can build long-term, profitable customer relationships.


4. User Generated Content 

When consumers can’t physically experience a product, they turn to online product reviews. Customer reviews aren’t new, but they do hold more power. In today’s digital day and age, consumers trust other consumers more than brands. That’s why user generated content (UGC) is one of the most popular retail trends sweeping the market. 

While you may not recognize the UGC term, you have experienced it!  After consumers make a purchase, they upload an image or a video along with a written review to share their real-world experience of a product or service.  Yes, there are risks that come with user generated content but, the pros out way the cons.

Retailers who give their customers a dedicated place to post user generated content can benefit in a couple different ways:

  • Humanize your brand and appear more trustworthy
  • Actively drive and promote customer engagement 
  • Turn customers into loyal brand advocates 
  • Leverage user generated content in your social media strategy

    5. Shopstreaming

The mash-up of “shopping” and “live streaming” was a direct result of COVID-19 removing all pleasure from shopping in a physical store. Small retailers and boutiques quickly jumped on the bandwagon to keep their businesses alive. For others, it was a way to provide their customers with a new level of shopping convenience and safety.

Although it was born out of necessity, shopstreaming will remain viable in 2021. It has become an effective customer engagement strategy that offers retailers a new way to generate revenue that isn’t confined to a physical location or an e-commerce website. Retailers who can execute and maintain an ongoing shopstreaming strategy will also be successful at acquiring new customers.


How do I capitalize on these trends?

These trends will define retail in 2021 and the years to come. Paystone combines customer engagement software and payment processing to give retailers more opportunities to grow their business and capitalize on changing consumer preferences.

Contact us and let’s start a conversation. 

Zakry Chami

Zakry Chami

is the Product Marketer at Paystone. You can find him playing squash at his local fitness club or planning his next backpacking trip.