Retail Trends


Retail Trend #1: Social Commerce

The surge in online shopping is here to stay, especially given the hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of brick-and-mortar stores. According to a recent study, in the last 12 months, 34% of shoppers bought a product online via PC, 38% bought a product online via tablet, and 44% bought a product online via mobile phone or smartphone.

Additional statistics show that:

  • More than 50% of the global consumers we surveyed say they’ve become more digital since the first Pulse survey was conducted.
  • Shopping via smartphone keeps climbing steeply, gaining 2 percentage points on in-store shopping just since our March 2021 Pulse survey and more than doubling since 2018.
  • Compared to when our first survey was conducted, more people say they’re buying online at least daily. 

Social commerce — native shopping experiences on a social media platform — offers shoppers an even more seamless way to shop online. Instead of clicking through to a third-party website, users can make purchases right from the social media app or site.

And social commerce is on the rise. In 2020, we saw a partnership between TikTok and Shopify, an expansion of Snapchat’s Native Stores for brands, and the introduction of Facebook Shops. US social commerce sales are expected to grow by 35% to surpass $36 billion by the end of 2021.

Shops are custom storefronts for businesses on Instagram and Facebook. Sellers can create collections of featured products, as well as modify the look of their Shop with banners, images, colors, and buttons. The same Shop can be accessed from both Facebook and Instagram, so once it’s set up, sellers have the potential to reach a wide global audience on two platforms. 

With Shops, Facebook is catering more directly to brands than they have in the past. This is part of Facebook’s effort to create a personalized shopping experience for users in the “Shop” destination of the app, which we expect to become more prominent to users in the near future.

Retail Trend #2: A New Approach to Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing used to be all about selfies, carefully constructed captions, and heavily edited product shots. But in 2021, we’ve seen a major shift in the way brands and influencers work together. Influencer content has slowly transitioned to a raw, real aesthetic, and this change will continue into 2022 retail industry trends.

Audiences put trust in brands that showcase authentic voices, and today’s savvy users can spot an overly-produced ad from a mile away. Brands that don’t prioritize authenticity in their influencer partnerships can wave goodbye to high engagement and ROI next year. It’s time to focus on unique influencer content that prioritizes education, entertainment, and the viewer experience.

From a media mix perspective, the video will be 2022’s most important medium for influencer partnerships. With many brick-and-mortar stores closed, shoppers can’t try on apparel or test out gadgets in-store — and a video is the next best thing.

Retail Trend #3: Online Stores in Offline Spaces

Many digital natives, direct-to-consumer brands like Bonobos, Glossier, Casper, and Warby Parker started online, but have since launched and expanded their physical presence over the past few years. Most of the digital brands opening stores sell apparel, which makes sense; it’s a category where shoppers benefit from interacting with the product in person. 

Real estate experts predicted that digitally native brands would open 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the next 4 to 5 years, with New York being the most popular destination. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly slowed the openings of new brick-and-mortar stores, we’re still seeing offline experiences from previously online-only brands.

Retail Trend #4: Even More AR-Powered Shopping Experiences

The innovative retail trends of Augmented reality (AR), machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) are here to stay. And while AR in retail isn’t new (Facebook made some big AR moves in 2018), it’s gone from a nice-to-have to an essential part of retailers’ eCommerce offerings.

As so many shoppers continue to rely on online shopping during the pandemic, retailers leverage AR technology to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical. In fact, IBM’s 2020 U.S. Retail Index reports that COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to digital shopping by roughly five years. 

While brands like IKEA, Home Depot, and Target all have proprietary AR shopping experiences, AR-powered commerce isn’t just for mega-brands.

Shopify introduced Shopify AR, an easy-to-use toolkit for businesses to create their own AR experiences to showcase their products to customers. And it works: Shopify reports that interactions with products having AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.

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