We live in a mixed world. This episode features Melissa Campanelli, Women in Retail Leadership Circle co-founder, and Meghan Stabler from BigCommerce to talk about digitizing the offline experience. Some consumers want to experience offline retail once again as we move into a post-pandemic era, while others prefer shopping online.
Find out how brands can create a seamless shopping experience across all channels. Also, Holiday 2021 predictions for hybrid retail.
Episode 2 of The Make It Big Podcast
Meghan Stabler – We’ve seen tremendous ups and downs in the last year and a quarter. How would you describe the current retail landscape and how does it look in the future?
Melissa Campanelli: “I feel like it’s looking brighter. The immediate pandemic triage period, which I call it, has seen retail survive. However it is still there and will continue to influence the year ahead. The pandemic feels like a thread that runs through nearly every industry trend in 2021. It’s accelerating some of the changes many retailers are making, while others may spark any unexpected developments em>
MS – What do you see in retailers’ efforts to meet these consumer expectations?
MC: “Just like Amazon created a new customer when it became so big in our world (I don’t know how long ago) — I feel that the pandemic has done the same and it’s fueled an increase in online shopping as well as curbside and in-store pickups. It seems like the trend towards hybrid retail is growing. That trend will only continue, I believe.
“Retailers expect that customers will be able to purchase online items in a physical store. While the store may allow for returns on-site, customers still want to be able touch and feel products and get customer service advice from salespeople. The future is a hybrid store. It’s not going to happen anytime soon .”
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MS – Let’s discuss how this hybrid model will impact the physical experience. What advice would you give a physical retailer about what they should be considering for an in-store experience.
MC: “You’re right. Retail experience will change. This will start with smaller stores. They’ll have safety precautions, but they will also be more tech-enabled. Wi-Fi will be available in more stores. Online shopping will be possible in the store. Pickups from the curb and in-store. This is all leading to a hybrid retail model.
“The future hybrid store will be able handle multiple forms fulfillment and returns.” They will be a completely different model from what we currently think of and what we consider a traditional retail store em>
MS – Are there other retail trends you are seeing that should be of interest to brand owners, ecommerce managers, or store owners?
MC: “Sure. I mean, we talk about this all the time, both in my work with Total Retail and Women in Retail, there has been a huge surge in buy-online-pickup-in-store. This trend will continue and retailers who aren’t taking it seriously should consider it.
“I believe that augmented reality will finally be a thing in 2021. It will allow customers to virtually try out clothes. This kind of service is becoming more popular. It’s going to be more popular, and technology will improve.
“This topic is something I have been discussing for the past 10 years. It’s personalization, which means that brand messaging and content can be tailored to each customer. It’s been an integral part of any retailer’s marketing strategy. But, thanks to data advancements or AI technology advances, it’s now easier to achieve and could become more popular in 2021.
“Then there’s livestream shopping. It seems like this has been more popular. It was something I had discussed before the call. This was obviously hot during COVID. It means that consumers can directly purchase products via a live stream em>
MS – What are your big predictions for 2021 and the holiday season in general?
MC: “The 2020 holiday seasons actually saw better-than-expected growth in retail sales. It’s evident that ecommerce is responsible. Therefore, I believe that 2021 will be a solid year. Retail may be a hit, but I’ve heard it is because more people will travel and enjoy the outdoors. Retail is going to be big this year, I believe.
“So, how can they prepare?” They should prepare for large numbers of online shoppers. They must ensure that their online space is up to date. It is important that they ensure that their websites are always up-to-date. It’s always a good idea to test your website before you go live. It is important that they spread the word about shopping deals sooner than later.
“But I feel that a lot of retailers I’m speaking to are beginning to be very concerned about what I like to refer to as the ‘Third Party Cookie Apocalypse,’ which I believe has already begun. It will start in earnest in 2022. This, as we all know, will make it harder to advertise online and measure the effectiveness of advertising.
“So, I believe many are going to start, maybe not holiday but before holiday, to sort of figure out how to rely on other than cookies and to create a data strategy they can use moving forward.” That is something people have been asking us about .”