Return to Normal? Not Likely for Retail

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As we come closer to a full reopening nationwide, retail sits at the edge of a second pandemic-fueled transformation. With the future consumer experience at stake, retailers need to reexamine approaches that have defined omnichannel retail for the past decade.

Here are four key areas that will change the retail landscape in the upcoming months.

  1. The end of omnichannel as we know it. The pandemic flipped the balance of power between online and physical retail, and the new default of digital discovery, purchase and delivery expectations are here to stay. However, 91% of shoppers miss physical stores, so it isn’t time to abandon them. Retailers will just need to offer specialized, not seamless experiences, creating clear differentiation for each point in their customer experience and sales cycle.
  2. Permanent shifts in the way we shop. Accessibility and availability have taken precedence during the pandemic, with 73% of consumers indicating that they changed stores, brands or the way they shop. This will be difficult to chance, as what started as convenience has now become preference. The coming months will be a critical period for retailers to regain customers and establish the value of returning to shop.
  3. The second coming of experiential. After a year of at-home shopping, consumers are realizing how much they miss the in-store experience. Extending online buying experiences, offering a product demo, or a one-of-a-kind brand experience, experiential offers an opportunity for retailers to become a destination are a few ways that retailers can attract shoppers and offer unique experiences that enhance brand perception.
  4. The end game: A green Christmas. These factors point to the 2021 holiday season being one of the biggest for brick-and-mortar retail in years, and retailers can expect to see a big appetite for the pageantry of the season. This presents a major opportunity for brands and stores to create engagement and ensure they’re at the center of the holiday shopping experience.

As the states, cities and counties continue to loosen or even drop COVID-19 restrictions, the opportunity and challenge for retail will be to look ahead, not behind. (The Marketing Insider, 05.14.21)

Do you have questions on what this future of retail means for your brand? H2R is happy to help. Schedule a free consultation today or email us at

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