Five trends to watch in 2021
Driving online profitability, creating safe shopping spaces, and bringing the out-of-home experience in-home are among the key trends expected to shape global retail in 2021, according to new predictions from IGD.
Following a disruptive 2020, the research and training organization says five trends stand out as areas for businesses to focus on this year. We find IGD's predictions so interesting that we reproduce them here. IGD is by many considered to be one of the best qualified institutions that closely follows the global grocery industry.
1. System upgrade: digitally enhancing operations
- Introduction of digital technologies that have a low capital investment and are easy to update
- Partnerships with third-party technology providers to speed up new tech introduction
- More use of machine learning and artificial intelligence at store level to drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction
Toby Pickard, Head of Innovation and Futures at IGD, argues:
“The pandemic has accelerated retailers and shoppers’ digital awareness and capabilities. Numerous companies have been testing and learning from new digital initiatives, and in 2021 companies will need to move beyond this to improve and implement at scale. Digital transformation will require new leadership and a fresh cultural mindset as companies create flexible and agile ways of working.”
2. Escalating e-commerce: driving online and profitability
- Retailers seeking to reduce their overall operating costs to accommodate online, improving processes and automation
- Encouraging shoppers towards click and collect
- Retailers assessing the options for rapid delivery, for example the same day or in a few hours
“With many shoppers using the channel for their large weekly shop, we have seen retailers focus on enhancing the pickup, or click and collect, experience to help improve profitability. This has included adding more collection slots, expanding order staging areas and parking bays and ensuring a contactless experience. While the initial surge is receding, online penetration is expected to remain at a higher level, compared to pre-crisis.”
3. Making a meal of it: creating inspiration and excitement
“As the pandemic continues to create challenges for social interaction and people continue to work from home, we expect retailers to focus on inspiring meal solutions for all occasions throughout the day and week. By highlighting both value, ease of preparation and cooking along with inspiration, retailers have a real opportunity to capture shopper spend that was previously taking place out-of-home,” says Pickard.
4. Holistic health: supporting health and wellness
- Greater focus from shoppers on hygiene and sanitation products for individuals and the home
- Retailers and brands trying to differentiate themselves by helping shoppers and consumers live healthier lives
- More tailored solutions in-store, either through assistants or using digital tools like apps
“Health and wellness naturally became more important to everyone in 2020. We saw a wide range of activities from retailers as they aimed to encourage healthier lifestyles. We will see more retailers educating, informing, and rewarding shoppers for living healthier lives. Companies will look to champion both their health and sustainability credentials, as the two key trends merge of their existing and new products. Personal health will increase in importance, but ultimately affordability may take precedence during economic downturns,” Pickard argues.
5. Recuperative retail: focusing on sustainability
- With climate change remaining a top priority, we expect retailers globally to push ahead with initiatives to support goals in this area
- Continued implementation globally of initiatives to reduce plastic and food waste
- Initiatives to build trust, loyalty and better relationships with shoppers, staff, and communities