Peapod Digital Labs Consumer Research & Insights Lead Raina Rusnak On The Future of Brick and Mortar Retail

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 Raina Rusnak, Consumer Research & Insights Lead, Peapod Digital Labs.

What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021?

RR: To overcome cooking fatigue during the pandemic, retailers are inspiring customers with new ideas in the form of easy recipes, fresh ingredients, and meal solutions. Layering onto traditional consumer values—freshness, affordability, and convenience—sustainability, local sourcing, minimal packaging, and time-saving products such as pre-cut fruits and vegetables show signs of increasing importance. Additionally, look for enhanced visibility into the type of business offering products. Retailers will showcase products originating from diverse and minority-owned companies such as women, Black, Asian-Indian, Hispanic, LGBT, Asian-Pacific, and veteran-owned companies through clear signage.

What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021?

RR: Technologies that promote convenience and speed will be front and center. Digital advances, easier eCommerce experiences, frictionless checkout, and quicker payment methods will all become more commonplace. Making use of apps with personalized offers, nutritional guidance, and mobile in-store wayfinding will similarly play a larger role.

What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?

RR: Retailers should continue to monitor the pulse of customer thoughts and experiences in order to strengthen loyalty and emotional connection to the brand. Notably, the pandemic heightened customers’ demand for eCommerce options with both pick-up and delivery. Making the customer’s preferred channel easy and convenient will solidify that bond. Likewise, providing nutritional guidance, home meal solutions, seamless payment options, and a solid eCommerce platform will inspire customers and deepen brand loyalty.

In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what's the future of brick and mortar retail look like?

RR: Successful brick and mortar retailers will continue to develop personalized experiences and support shopping however the customer prefers to engage with brands—whether that’s in-store or online for delivery or pick-up. Leveraging mobile interfaces to aid with things like wayfinding and self-checkout will help simplify in-store shopping. Streamlining and personalizing the shopping experience through increased use of apps with value-added services, efficient order fulfillment, and contactless pay options will all be key to the future of brick and mortar retail.