This article is part of Raydiant’s Future of Brick and Mortar Retail series featuring interviews with industry experts and thought leaders with the goal of providing actionable insights that can help brick and mortar retailers prepare for what lies ahead.
The following is an interview we had with Damon Routzhan, Founder and CEO at Concrete Candles.
What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021?
DR: Brick and mortar stores will start delivering to homes: One of the trends that I foresee for 2021 is that brick and mortar stores will start delivering to homes. The reason for this is because of the current pandemic situation, retail operations have become complex and risky for not just the customers but also for the business team. Under such circumstances, maintaining SOPs is one heck of a job, and they are not always followed up to the mark. However, being a business they can’t risk a disruption in their revenue stream either. In times like these, it would be best that such brick and mortar businesses shift to e-commerce and start delivering their products and services at homes. This also includes grocery and shopping stores such as Sainsbury, Walmart, Best Buy, and more. Issues such as logistics problems of last-mile delivery may come in between, and it might cost more as compared to major transits in which the transportation costs are reduced, but the results of this procedure, for now, would be more effective.
Social media shopping
Social media shopping or a term I like to put as “social commerce” will also become a trend in 2021 for as far as I can see. The reachability of a brand is massive on social media platforms, and it is relatively easier to engage the audience and convince them to purchase something from you there. During COVID the usage of social media and other digital platforms has immensely increased amongst people – an almost 30% increase in the usage. This has led to almost 41% saying that they’ve been purchasing things online. Half of these things that people are buying are what they would’ve bought from retail stores had the situation been friendly enough. Platforms such as Facebook Shop, and Snapchat’s Native Store for Brands, offers much more user-friendliness as compared to being redirected to a website. If social commerce can help to enhance the user experience, and provide a better shopping experience, then why not opt for this service? Facebook shops have seen a rise throughout 2020, and I expect this trend to only amplify in 2021. This will be an opportunity for brick and mortar stores to boost their sales through online platforms.
In-store pick up
This is a trend that has started to emerge already, and Walmart is one of its pioneers. The concept behind this trend is simple – the customer places an order online through the company’s website or app, it gets transferred to the store, and then a store helper gets assigned your order to personal shop it for you and keep it prepared for your pickup. Now, all that the customer needs to do is hop in their car, reach the store, pay and receive their order. This is not only time effective, but also safe keeping in mind the COVID situation. However, there is one technicality for this set procedure – the customer has to choose their pickup slot so that there are no long waiting lines, and the system has track of when to deal with which customer. Moreover, this is one of the best ways through which brick and mortar stores can fulfill their e-commerce orders currently. It helps to maintain a positive revenue stream as well.
What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021?
DR: AR (Augmented Technology) and VR (Virtual Reality): In my perspective AR and VR will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021. Consumers really look up to them to assist them in their purchases and product choices. They’ve become an essential part of retailer’s online store experience. AR is a great way to showcase your products to consumers and give them a life-like experience of what the actual product and its usability would look like. Brands such as IKEA, and Home Depot are already making use of this feature, and other smaller retailers are getting into the same field of interest through platforms such as Shopify; with their Shopify AR feature.
What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?
Geofencing is one good tactic to use if brick and mortar retailers want to prepare for 2021. This can help them by creating a wall around their customers when they are in close proximity to their store or the neighborhood the company wants to target. At that moment they can then target ads at customers. So, if your store has some good offers going on, this will help to attract customers and make them want to jump onto the bandwagon. Stores can generate quite a lot of in-store traffic through this tactic.
If you want to work on improving your revenue streams for 2021, then better start working on your SEO to enhance the local search. Nearby search has become quite a norm. For any store to be a part of this “usual” needs to develop their backlinks and improve the keyword research, so that every time a user searches for your niche “near them”, you show up in their search results; that too on Google’s first results page.
In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what’s the future of brick and mortar retail look like?
DR: In my perspective, the future of brick and mortar retail is a combination of e-commerce and physical store experience. Brick and mortar is one concept that can not be eliminated completely – even brands such as Amazon who were solely online-based, opened their brick and mortar store, Amazon Fresh. There is a chunk of customers who would always want to physically touch and feel the products and then make their purchase decision. So, for me I find their future to be quite secure. All that would be required is for them to strategize as time advances; the rest is good to go.