As the retail industry continues to grapple with the effects of the global pandemic, customer behaviors and expectations continue to evolve at a lightning rate. In iQmetrix’s recent Telecom Industry Address, Butch Cavello, Samsung’s Head of Direct to Consumer Retail, shared his predictions for consumer trends this year and beyond.
Here are his 10 key retail predictions — and for more detail, watch Cavello’s segment from the Industry Address in the video extract below.
- Elevated experience: “Consumers will continue to want and demand the best possible retail experience, whether physical or digital,” said Cavello. One interesting trend is that it’s not just younger buyers who are expecting a seamless blend of physical and digital retail — all demographics are now accustomed to this kind of service. “Where some of the Boomer generation were previously not in favor of the digital element of shopping, COVID has really changed that.”
- Health and safety considerations will continue to be paramount in all retail environments — not just shopping with masks and distancing, said Cavello, but also through the retail space and into post-purchase servicing in people’s homes.
- The supply chain disruption will continue to affect the retail industry in a big way. Many consumers are not aware of why product availability might be limited, explained Cavello, and retailers must figure out ways to serve those customers. Employing omnichannel solutions such as buy online, pick up in store can help here. “Those are the retailers who will win during this disruption,” added Cavello.
- Workforce challenges: In addition to supply-chain issues, labor shortages will continue to be a challenge — but consumers’ service expectations are not decreasing. The successful retailer in 2022 and beyond will be the one who uses smart solutions to maximize staff efficiency, Cavello predicted.
- Physical foot traffic: For physical stores, foot traffic is picking up in some regions and some retail segments, but is still not close to what it was in 2019. “The growth has been seen in online channels instead,” Cavello explained. “The best-case scenario is that online transactions continue to grow, there’s also a return to store traffic, and it’s a net-net gain for your business.”
- “Phygital” retail: COVID has accelerated the demand for a seamless “phygital” store experience, which will include many 5G-powered elements such shoppers interacting with content via their devices or using navigation tools while shopping, or immersive product displays enhanced by augmented or virtual reality. “All this can be shared with family and friends across social networks,” Cavello added. “All this is happening today, and it also helps retailers with rich, real-time data on what consumers are engaging with.”
- Touchless transactions are now essential in today’s retail environment and will continue to be so, along with connected purchases and new payment methods. “Using partners who are in the industry who can integrate these services is where success will happen,” said Cavello.
- End-to-end adjustments: Looking ahead beyond 2022, customer expectations will continue to grow and the burden will fall on the retailer to provide continually evolving, enhanced experiences — both physical and digital. What’s more, the end-to-end experience is changing, with the shopping journey starting much further upstream, added Cavello. “And it goes all the way now to post-purchase. Customers expect brands and retailers to know and understand them and their needs, and be there for them.”
- Value essentials: “Customers are looking for value,” Cavello said. The burden of the pandemic and its economic impacts, alongside the ability of the customer to compare prices and shop around online, creates the expectation of getting a product at the best possible price. “Retailers will need to demonstrate value throughout that much longer customer journey.”
- In summary: Consumers are back, demand is increasing, and the technology is there to provide the experience and service that the customer will expect — even in the face of supply-chain and labor headwinds.
For the full Samsung keynote at the iQmetrix Telecom Industry Address, check out the 15-minute video below.