Retail trade or business is the retail process of selling products or services directly to consumers through various retail channels to make a profit. Retailers meet demand identified by a distribution network. The most important elements in retailing our retail stores, sales staff, product displays, and product marketing.
Each time the holiday season arrives, the retail trade industry sees a great surge in its sales, which is sometimes record-breaking. However, living in a dynamic market situation, especially in times of COVID-19, it is essential that retail merchants keep up with the latest trends in order to survive.
Customer behaviors and their buying trends are fast-changing, and more so after the pandemic outbreak. In this new normal, people have changed their shopping habits while staying indoors and have taken to the online mode of purchasing their favorite products.
So, it’s time for retailers to reconsider their existing marketing strategies and shift their focus towards the online marketplace. As the year comes to a close, you need to consider your consumers’ buying priorities and how you can cater to their unique needs in the upcoming year.
Here is a list of the top retail trends for 2021 that you must consider while planning your marketing strategies for the next year
Recent years have witnessed a rising marketing trend on social media, especially Instagram. Many businesses are selling their products and services over social media platforms and have a surprisingly high engagement rate!
Because a study says that retailers must target about 2.65 billion people who use social media. In the coming years, social media sites will not just be the places to stay in touch with one’s friends, but also great marketing opportunities. Leverage the power of these platforms to experience a new level of selling.
In fact, about 60% of Instagram users have already started to connect with various retailers because, through this platform, they can find unique products from numerous dealers. Also, consider adding a flexible and native payment system to reach a wider range of customers in your target group.
Voice Search and Personal Assistants
AI and machine learning have found their way towards almost every industry, and retailers must make good use of them. As per the recent trends, consumers like to voice-search the things they are looking for, instead of typing the entire search keyword.
With the tremendous popularity of smart speakers and voice search-enables personal assistants seen in many households today, like Alexa, voice search is 20% of Google searches. This means retailers must make their websites or other online shopping portals searchable through voice.
In fact, as per Gartner’s predictions, about 30% of the searches will not be made using a screen, but through other technologies. This is because human beings can speak about 150 words per minute on average. While typing makes up only 40 words every minute.
Customers Look for the Right Shipping Options
Bad or inadequate shipping options is one of the main reasons for cart abandonment, which hampers your overall sales significantly. For example, a simple reason, such as delayed delivery time estimates or high shipping charges can turn your consumers off, and they will ultimately look for other retailers providing more convenient shipping methods.
You also need to walk an extra mile to provide flexible delivery timings for all. You can try offering provisions for all kinds of delivery time, including one-day express deliveries to next-day or regular ones. Besides, take care of your payment methods and try to offer all the acceptable payment modes, such as debit and credit cards, eWallet transactions, bank transfers, net banking, and UPI.
Leverage Influencer Marketing
A new approach towards online marketing and social media promotion is influencer marketing, which is gaining huge popularity these days. Earlier influencer marketing used to be sharing finely-edited product shots and daily selfies with attractive captions.
However, in 2020, the scenario changed as brands are recognizing the power of promoting their products and services by collaborating with these popular influencers. Some of the reasons influencer marketing is so famous today are –
- It enables you to build your brand image and gain your customers’ trust quickly. This is because people respect the influencers and their content. Thus, if they promote your brand, their fans will trust their opinion and go ahead in trying out your products.
- It enhances your content strategy by filling in the gaps in your own content marketing approaches. For example, in cases when you may have run out of content or are looking for better teams to produce quality content, you can approach any well-known influencer and ask them to promote your products and services.
- It provides excellent value to your target audience by inspiring them and educating them. Besides, influencer marketing also helps you to solve the problems and queries of your potential buyers by building proper awareness regarding how your products/services can change their lives.
- It builds winning partnerships by connecting and creating a strong relationship with your influencers. And if you do it right, you never know how your connections and network of influencers can be of tremendous help for your business in the long term!
- You can reach a highly relevant and focused audience since most of the influencers have developed a niche for themselves. This means that their fanbase has common and specific interests and requirements, unlike a generic audience with diverse likes and dislikes.
Online Becomes Offline
Yes, you heard that right! These days, various digital brands, such as Casper, Bonobos, Warby Parker, etc., who have started online, are expanding their business by opening and running the brick-and-mortar store. This makes sense because not all customers prefer buying online, especially those who are not so tech-savvy.
Moreover, there are many who find the physical retail trade shops more credible than their online counterparts, probably because they can have a tangible view and feel of the products or services they want to buy.
Even though the recent pandemic situation has slowed down the openings of new in-person retails stores, still the upcoming year is expected to see a good rise in the offline shopping experiences from the brands that were solely online-based before.
These elements of retail trade need to be integrated together to maximize sales. There are multiple types of retail software programs that can help organizations retail trade. Retail software can be categorized into three main segments:
- Point of Sale (POS)
- Retail Trade Software/Hardware
- Inventory Management Software
Point of Sale (POS) retail software provides cash registers, touch screen machines, and various other retailing applications. The main advantage with POS retail software is that it eliminates the role of sales personnel thus improving customer service.
It also enables the use of computer-based data entry system that automates the retail trade process. Another advantage of POS retail software is that it reduces costs by reducing employee payroll expenses.
Retail Trade Software/Hardware deals with adding and removing products from shelves. It requires minimal management and can manage a large number of products. It uses sophisticated inventory tracking methods that allow inventory levels to be automatically adjusted.
The biggest advantage of using this retail software is that it efficiently collects and reports product information and tracks the sale, purchase, and turnover of products in real-time. Software vendors design software systems that are compatible with leading product applications including Microsoft Windows, UNIX, and Linux.
Inventory tracking systems for hardware retail software can provide inventory information on a case-to-case basis, while product analysis programs provide data for product analysis.
Inventory management software helps track the movement of inventory and minimizes errors in order to maximize operational efficiency. This type of retail software makes use of standard barcode technology to identify specific product categories.
It can be used to implement inventory control in different locations of a retail trade. Inventory control software is also very helpful in planning retail sales and purchasing. It can determine the demand and supply of a particular product category and can predict how much stock would be available in a given retail outlet at a certain time.
It can also help optimize retail sales by creating an effective flow chart that depicts how merchandise is moving from category to category within the retail trade.
A bar code scanner and inventory scanner for the retail trade can prevent incorrect classification and incorrect recording of product data. In addition, the software can improve data accuracy by eliminating the possibility of duplication of information.
It can improve the accuracy of data entry and can improve customer service by providing store locations and phone numbers in a database. Barcode scanners and inventory scanners are widely available from software vendors. They can be purchased directly from computer hardware stores or can be leased from a local retailer.
There are many other types of retail software designed to increase efficiency and minimize labour
Some examples include ERP systems for retail trade, retail management software, supply chain management software, and sales and inventory tracking software. The retail trade software can improve the management of retail inventories by allowing multiple stores to enter data simultaneously and accurately.
Retail trade software can improve warehouse operations by eliminating errors that occur when items are sold out, resold, damaged, or mislabeled. Best retail software can help a retail business effectively manage inventory and can help store owners make better decisions about inventory levels and re-supply policies.
Out of all the above retail trade trends and many others, what we liked the most is the trend of same-day delivery, voice search-based shopping, and influencer marketing. Try experimenting with these retail trade trends in 2021 and find out which works the best for you! No matter what your approach is, always remember to work on enriching your customers’ buying experience.
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