The past year has been one of the most unique times in recent history. Businesses faced challenges they never expected and full recovery from the shutdowns is still in the works. The way companies do business in 2021 is bound to change based on the shifts in the world and even based on economic adjustments due to the aftershocks of the pandemic.
According to Statista, there will be a gain of about 26.3% in sales for brick-and-mortar stores in the second quarter of 2021. However, this follows a slight decline at the beginning of the year. There may still be ripple effects from stores closing forever due to the impact of COVID-19 on the world economy. It’s impossible to predict whether the country rebounds or sees an ongoing recession.
However, there are some trends easily predicted for 2021 no matter what the economy does. By embracing some of the new technology and paying attention to what consumers want, you may not experience a lack of sales, even during hard times.
#1 Voice Commerce Gets a Boost
More and more households utilize smart speakers now than in the past. Experts predict that by 2025, about 75% of all homes will have a smart speaker. Make sure your e-commerce site is ready for voice search capabilities. Think about natural language patterns and how people ask for help from these devices. Utilize those words in your own keyword choices.
In addition to smart speakers, people use their mobile devices more often for shopping. They might ask Siri where the nearest Italian restaurant or clothing boutique is, for example. Make sure you have an answer for those who live in your area, so you gain traffic from those searches.
#2 Simple Solutions Become the Norm
If your product sits on store shelves, think of ways to make accessing your items easier. You also need to ensure your brand is at eye level and takes up a reasonable amount of space on store shelves.
For an example of an inexpensive but innovative solution, look at Pringles’ new displays. The merchandising solution offers a bright gravity-fed unit where users can grab a small can of pringles. However, the branding at the top of the display is vivid and reminds people what they love about the potato chip.
#3 Consumers Demand Omnichannel Options
Today’s consumers expect a consistent experience no matter where they encounter your brand. Make sure you have the same offers online and in your stores. If a customer touches base via email, carefully record the interaction for any future phone calls. If they buy something online and it doesn’t fit, allow them to return or exchange the product in-store. Seek out ways to connect different mediums.
#4 Brands Improve Customer Experience
One trend that never goes out of style is an excellent customer experience (CX). Expect 2021 to be the year where customers demand better treatment. Some stores have already gone out of business in 2020. They simply couldn’t withstand the current challenges retailers face. Consumers pay attention to the brands that are thriving and will flock to the ones that offer what they need and treat them with the respect they deserve.
Some simple ways you can improve the CX on your website is by ensuring all the features on your page work correctly. Survey your customers and ask what they’d like to see improved or changed.
#5 Bitcoin Becomes Commonplace
Retailers already offer payment options such as PayPal and Google Pay. However, these services charge fees just like credit card processing companies do. The advantages of cryptocurrency include lower fees and no reversing of charges. Once someone pays you with Bitcoin, for example, the money is yours. They can’t reverse the charges easily if at all.
Expect to see cryptocurrency embraced by small retailers first who often operate on thin margins. The savings on processing fees can give them an edge. Larger retailers will likely follow suit.
#6 Consumers Embrace Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) become even more commonplace as the resolution of mobile screens grows brighter and more vivid. Juniper Research predicts retailers will spend $7.3 billion a year by 2022 on AI. Brands such as IKEA already have apps that allow consumers to place a virtual piece of furniture in the room. Just upload a photo of your home, or yourself for clothing purchases, and try out different looks before you buy.
An added bonus of brands creating their own apps and letting consumers try before they buy is fewer returns. People will already know what the item looks like and how it fits into their life. AR saves time and money for both the consumer and the business owner.
#7 Going Green Gains Popularity
No matter which side of the environmental “debate” you align with, everyone wants to do something positive for future generations. Taking care of the planet, recycling and reducing your carbon footprint just makes sense. Millennials have a passion for eco-friendly products, and as the generation finally comes into its own and finds a stronger voice, expect more and more brands to align with the values they hold dear.
More companies will adopt green practices and seek out ways to create more environmentally friendly products. Expect companies to promote their green practices more in 2021.
#8 E-commerce Goes Mobile
More people use their cell phones to access the internet than ever. Expect this trend to continue and more online stores to embrace mobile shopping. By the time 2022 arrives, about 73% of e-commerce purchases will be made via mobile devices. With the shift in more people shopping via smartphones, expect website design to embrace a mobile-first methodology even more than it already does.
Look for ways to enhance the small screen experience. Is it easy to check out, or do your customers have to fill out endless forms? Are buttons accessible based on where a person typically holds their hands on a smartphone? Look for ways to improve the appearance and functionality of your site on mobile operating systems.
Watch for Announcements
One way to stay on top of trends is to watch press releases from your competitors. What kinds of events do they have coming up? How are they marketing them? Also, pay attention to technological news. If you see a new gadget you think might be popular, think about how you can work it into your own marketing or operations.
Next year is likely to be an interesting one. Many businesses were forced to embrace technology sooner than they wanted to, in order to stay afloat during the shutdowns. Think about the changes you made as a company and which ones you’d like to perfect for your customers in 2021.
Lexie is a web designer and neuromarketing enthusiast. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.