It is becoming increasingly clear to retailers that there is no such thing as business as usual. The pandemic has forced every business to adjust nearly every facet of their operations. From connecting and interacting with customers on their terms to hiring, retaining, and managing employees with more flexibility, the road ahead seems to morph before our eyes continually. Some of the retail trends for 2022 will likely define the look of the road ahead.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas wrapped up this past week. Although half of the exhibitors stayed away due to COVID concerns, the 2,200 that engaged with their products and services didn’t disappoint. Some of the most intriguing retail trends include:
- Augmented reality: Retailers are increasingly giving online shoppers the ability to “try before you buy,” allowing their products to be viewed in place through the lens of a smartphone. Augmented reality can allow a customer to interact with a range of merchandise, such as how a new accent chair might look in their living room to how a diamond necklace would look with a new outfit.
- Photo/scan: If you’ve ever tried the photo search function in the Amazon app, you have seen the beginnings of the use of this tech to easily identify a product and purchase it online. Companies like Scan & Know allow customers to scan a product in-store, learn more about it, and see product ratings.
- Checkout tech: Cashier-less stores have been around for a few years and are just the start of a wave of new technologies to make checkout lines a thing of the past. Imagine driving up to a gas station and filling up your tank without the fuss of digging for your credit card. New systems are emerging which will help enhance the shopping experience in brick-and-mortar stores. The competition to Amazon Go stores is increasing, too, including San Francisco-based Standard Cognition and others.
- Shopping in the metaverse: Although in its infancy, shopping in a virtual mall of sorts is coming. H&M became the first clothing retailer located in the metaverse in Ceek City.
- Last-mile logistics: The dominant presence of brown UPS trucks has steadily decreased in merchandise delivery ever since Amazon’s fleet of grey vans has increasingly disrupted the sector. Expect to see deliveries by autonomous vans, drones, delivery bots,
Payment currencies and systems: Buy-now-pay-later sales options are increasing exponentially, as are payment apps and payment currencies, such as Bitcoin. Providing multiple options for payment will be important in the year ahead.