Four Shopper Experience Trends that will Define 2022

January 24th, 2022

Trend #2 is the resurgence of brick-and-mortar. What are the other three? Find out in this article.

We’ve all heard the same rehashed “insight” over and over again: Technology will transform retail.

Duh.

It’s no secret that retail will be different in 2022, and that tech will play a big role in the transformation.

To understand how retail will change in 2022, we need to be more nuanced. While technology will continue to disrupt retail, the shopper experience trends of 2022 will be defined by changes in consumer behavior, current and future events.

Here, we share the four shopper experience trends that we think will shape 2022.

Bring on omni-channel

In the run up to 2020, we witnessed the rise of e-commerce. With technologies becoming more robust, entire retail operations could be handled online, and even replace physical selling points. During the COVID pandemic, retail had to hasten its digitalization efforts as restrictions came into place.

In 2022, shoppers are more tech-savvy than before, and will expect retailers to keep up. They might initiate a conversation through a website function, and expect a chatbot to lead them to the product they’re seeking. Or they might be scrolling a popular influencer’s social media profile, see an item they like, and expect a “buy now” button to pop up – right there on the social media site.

In short: Shoppers interact in many places at once, both physical and online. They expect an uninterrupted shopping experience across multiple channels.

“For instance, restaurants can create Whatsapp collections featuring appetizers, entrees and desserts, while a clothing store could add collections for men’s clothes, women’s clothes, shirts, pants and more. Once shoppers have browsed collections, they can add items to their carts on Whatsapp and send the order to the business.” - TechCrunch

The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar

2022 will be the year where on-site retail experiences will solidify their comeback. The concept of providing on-site experiences in parallel with e-commerce is not new. Take the concept of pop-up shops as an example. Retailers acquire a temporary space where they showcase key products. Shoppers can interact with these products before making their purchases, either on-site or online.

In 2022, it is expected that an improving pandemic situation will increase the appeal of physical locations. The need for physical interaction will surpass immediate health concerns, and will spur demand for on-site experiences. As property prices have plummeted by as much as 38% in some locations, retailers can capitalize on cheap real estate and invest in physical experiences throughout 2022. They can also ensure these physical locations are generating optimal ROI by continuously collecting real-time feedback from on-site shoppers.

“32% of brands said they’d be establishing or expanding their use of pop-up and in-person experiences in the next year. 31% said they planned on establishing or expanding their physical retail footprint.” - Shopify

At-scale personalization

Have you ever received an email where the sender greets you with a good-ole’ “Hi, [[%first_name%]]”?

Yikes.

Poor attempts at mass personalization will not cut it in 2022. While shoppers were willing to accept failed attempts at personalization before, they won’t now. Technologies such as chatbots and AI make it possible to store entire conversations and purchase histories, enabling retailers to tailor products and experiences to individual customers.

Here’s what InstaPage and PwC have to say on the matter:

  • 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.

  • Shoppers are willing to pay up to 16% for personalized shopping experiences.

  • 63% of consumers will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics.

Environmentally-conscious shoppers

In 2015, 91% of shoppers expected retailers to do their part in preserving the environment. As we enter 2022 and the climate crisis deepens, lackluster attempts at being environmentally friendly will backfire. In 2022, 90% of shoppers will punish retailers found guilty of greenwashing. (Greenwashing is the practice of positioning oneself as doing their part for the environment, while doing the exact opposite in secret).

We’re already seeing big retailers become more transparent when it comes to end-product production cycles. In the same way diners can sort restaurants by ‘food miles’ or intelligent use of natural resources, Amazon and Sephora allow shoppers to sort product categories by environmental certifications, or by whether or not they use certified green production tactics.

In fact, 62% of consumers care about the impact their online shopping has on the environment—with the amount of packaging topping their list of concerns. Additionally, our data shows environmental concerns are higher with younger online shoppers. - SMG

The (Continued) Rise of the machines

Automation is nothing new. Already in the preceding decade, key industries like car manufacturing and food & beverage were automating processes. Retailers were also moving towards automation, pressured by increasingly low margins and global competition.

Already in 2021, American retailers ordered more than 29,000 robots to compensate for staff shortages and supply disruptions. This was a 37% increase compared to 2020. In 2022, a partnership between McDonalds and IBM is expected to introduce voice-enabled AI to manage physical drive-thrus.

With the supply chain issues brought about by the pandemic, and shoppers spending more time purchasing online, retailers will accelerate their automation efforts throughout 2022 and beyond.

“Through the implementation of automation technology, we believe that Amazon Go [unstaffed supermarkets] has the potential to deliver top-line benefits thanks to additional transacting traffic from reduced wait times and the use of customer insights to optimize assortments and personalize promotions.” - McKinsey

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