This year has been one of recovery for the retail sector, with businesses adapting to the initial shock of the pandemic. Now, heading into 2022, there’s optimism that Covid won’t take front and centre stage and retail companies can stabilise and plan for the future. As with any new year, it’s time to look ahead and see which retail trends will shape the space in the coming 12 months. Here, we’ve pulled together the hot topics that everyone will be talking about in 2022.
Online shopping continues to be the way forward
With a growing number of brick-and-mortar stores closing their doors, online shopping continues to thrive even as the pandemic edges towards the back of our minds. According to research from Bazaarvoice’s annual Shopper Experience Index, around 31% of people are said to have reduced in-person shopping, with a further 21% avoiding physical stores altogether.
All of this points further to the continued use of online as the primary way to shop for products and services. Ecommerce was already big business long before Covid, but its importance is set to grow further, and 2022 could be the year where it takes hold and becomes the primary shopping method for consumers.
Flexibility can unlock more payment power
Retail finance has been the talk of the town over the last couple of years, with traditional forms of paying for goods and services – such as credit and debit cards – losing some of their appeal.
In their place are alternative payment methods like buy now, pay later and digital wallets, which empower shoppers to buy the items they really want thanks to more control over how they pay for items.
Having flexible payment processes in place will be at the top of the list for merchants who want to boost their sales and offer modern payment methods. As technology evolves, alternative payments will take on greater importance in the retail world. A variety of product options will facilitate transactions and maximise checkout power for merchants.
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) leads the way
If you thought BNPL products were big in 2021, just wait until next year. Four in 10 Brits have already used a form of BNPL to purchase items, and it’s the preferred payment method with millennials and Generation Z – the former possessing the greatest spending power of all demographics.
The checkout finance sector is undergoing rapid evolution. A wide range of payment products are replacing traditional forms of payment, with BNPL leading the way as the face of the next generation of retail finance.
More buying power with social media
Being on social media is a given for brands in this day and age, no matter the industry. But in the retail space, having a social media presence is becoming non-negotiable. Not only does it offer a route to building brand awareness, but also acts as a customer service platform.
It’s also a bona fide way to sell products and services, with almost a quarter of all shoppers in the UK using social media to discover new products. The shift to mobile shopping, coupled with the improvements in omnichannel services, means a robust social media presence is necessary for a retailer’s website. To truly win in the retail space in 2022, brands will need to be active on social media and tap into their resources to sell products and services to customers.
The impact of artificial intelligence continues to be felt in almost every industry, and the retail sector is no different. Voice search is on the rise, with more than 30 million shoppers in the US using AI-powered voice assistants on their phones to find a product or service.
Throughout 2022, you can expect shoppers to feel even more comfortable talking to their phones and smart speakers, asking about shopping items. That means businesses need to start thinking about SEO from a voice perspective, leveraging how people talk as well as how they write to rank for the right search terms when shoppers turn to Siri, Google and Alexa for their next shopping splurge.
Technological advancements hold the key
The customer experience is everything, and technology continues to be a primary driver in the retail finance space, helping improve customer interactions. Merchants will need to partner with the right providers to capitalise on opportunities in 2022 and give their customers a fluid shopping experience.
Using a retail finance provider that easily integrates into setups and offers smart payment methods can be the difference between providing customers with a seamless shopping experience that sees them complete the checkout stage or a clunky one where they drop off midway. 2022 is all about the right partnerships to power your retail operation.
Summary: 2022 and beyond
There’s a lot to unpack for retailers as we head into 2022, but technology and flexibility are the key themes moving forward. By offering alternative payment methods and focusing on the points of entry for your digital stores, merchants can help shoppers unlock spending power and turbocharge sales as the new normal in the retail space is led by the digital revolution.