- In the aftermath of the global pandemic, the lines between online and in-store experiences will continue to blur.
- Communications platforms will play a key role in resolving retail supply chain challenges.
- Retailers will need to revamp their worker engagement strategies in light of the Great Resignation.
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A lot has changed over the last couple years as consumers and retailers have responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Though some of the adjustments made by retailers were temporary, others are part of a more sustainable transformation.
Predictions for retail heading into 2022
The following is a look at our predictions for retail heading into 2022, along with insights on how these predictions could impact your business.
Savvy retailers have moved beyond aligning the online and in-store experiences—2022 will be all about making these experiences even more mobile friendly and quick to satiate the instant gratification appetite of today’s impatient shopper. According to Progressive Grocer, “customers expect the in-store and online experience to merge seamlessly for speed and convenience. That’s the customer experience they want and demand.”
To manage this convergence seamlessly, retailers will need to dismantle traditional silos, remove boundaries between all customer channels, and give in-store associates the tools to integrate with online and mobile platforms.
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In a related prediction, curbside pickup and buy-online/pick-up-in-store will continue to grow in popularity. Curbside pickup opportunities proliferated during the pandemic, as general merchandise retailers, supermarkets, restaurants, and others wanted to attract customers who preferred a contact-free option. Many of the retailers that introduced this feature are likely to maintain it into 2022 and beyond.
Wal-Mart expanded its online order with curbside pickup options and continues to promote this opportunity to customers. Many other retailers have done the same. In addition to the convenience and no-contact benefits, curbside pickup helps reduce some in-store congestion in high-volume stores during busy shopping times.
Dubbed “The Great Resignation,” the mass exodus of workers from the job market was a striking pandemic impact in 2021 as record numbers of employees walked away from jobs month after month.
Employers are experiencing a perfect storm of challenges in recruiting and retaining employees. Those challenges include an incredibly high ‘quit rate’, and a corresponding increase in wages as employers attempt to hang on to the workers they have, and healthy job creation spurred by federal money pouring in to prop up the economy.
Josh Bersin, a global research analyst and expert in human resources management, recently noted: “The Quit Rate, the number of people who voluntarily leave positions, is now 3.4% (4.4 million last month), by far the highest we’ve ever seen. In the middle of all these job openings, almost a third of Americans will voluntarily change jobs this year… So, think about the numbers. One in ten (16 million) jobs open, over 4 million people leaving their jobs each month, and wages increasing at the highest rate ever. This is a crazy job market.”
Retail has been greatly impacted by the worker exodus. For example, in August of 2021, 721,000 retail workers gave their notice. Meanwhile, average wages have risen 4.2 percent, but for the retail sector, that number jumps to 5.9 percent.
In the coming year, retailers will focus their attention on boosting their worker engagement and retention efforts. In addition to offering more competitive wages, retailers will need to invest in better training and better communication to keep their workers engaged and happy.
Even as retailers struggle with worker retention, the retail sector is looking to AI to solve some of its challenges. AI enables retailers to deliver personalized experiences to consumers at a much lower cost. Online retailers use AI-enabled chatbots to answer common questions from customers and to help guide them through the website. AI is a first line of defense in chat support.
AI can also increase efficiency in operational areas. For example, AI is being tapped to streamline such processes as inventory management and logistics.
A major news item throughout 2021 was supply chain disruption. As the global supply chain struggles to recover in the wake of the global pandemic, retailers are still feeling the strain.
It has been said that the best defense is a good offense, and savvy retailers are building a new offensive strategy to handle supply chain bottlenecks. They’re building stronger supplier networks via better communications.
At the height of the pandemic, McKinsey analysts suggested that retail supply chain leaders meet with strategic suppliers every day. Although this level of interaction may not be sustainable moving forward, the lesson learned is that establishing strong communication with key supplies and other supply chain stakeholders will be the best way forward for retailers in the coming year.
The transparency and agility that good communication and collaboration engender will strengthen weakened supply chains and enable retailers to both reinforce their commitment to existing suppliers and find new suppliers to pick up any supply chain slack.
Let RingCentral help your organization stay on trend
These are just a few of the major trends that will impact retail in 2022. Perhaps not surprisingly, all these trends represent an opportunity for retailers to improve their communications strategies with consumers, customers, workers, and supply chain partners.
RingCentral provides a cloud-based communications platform that will help retailers build a communications strategy that ticks all the boxes to stay on-trend. In one centralized, unified platform, RingCentral customers enjoy:
- Video conferencing
- Contact center solutions
Our retail communications solution is your one-stop-shop for better customer experiences, higher worker engagement, and stronger supply chain communications. As an industry-leading communications provider, RingCentral connects you with every stakeholder in your retail ecosystem and helps you achieve your business goals.
Ramp up your communications strategy in 2022. Let RingCentral show you how our platform works for retail with a free demo today.
Originally published Jan 20, 2022, updated Dec 30, 2022