As 2021 winds down, companies are eager for predictions of what the retail landscape will look like in 2022. In a survey by Logicbroker, more than 600 retail respondents weighed in on the current state of retail and key initiatives for 2022.
The results shed light on:
- eCommerce adoptions and adaptations
- eCommerce trends and fads
- The Future of eCommerce
- Staffing and supply chain issues
But before we look ahead, let’s take a look at how we got here.
Adoptions + Adaptations
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically sped up the adoption curve for eCommerce. A whopping 96% of the 607 retailers surveyed say they saw an increase in online demand in the six months after the pandemic began in March 2020. Retailers were forced to rethink their strategies and adapt. In fact, 62% stated their business would not have survived if they hadn’t been able to quickly pivot to an eCommerce-first model.
That quick shift to embracing eCommerce looked like companies prioritizing D2C store setup, curbside pickup, establishing online marketplace fulfillment, adding or expanding buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), and vetting new suppliers and/or vendors. Then, after the initial shock and disruption of the pandemic subsided, they began to expand into new sales channels. The top three channels companies added were B2B marketplaces (39%) Curated online marketplaces (31%) and Direct to consumer (D2C) through their business website (24%).
Trends + Fads
In this new retail world, retailers are rapidly adopting new ways to sell to their target customers. Prior to the pandemic, the big trend was adding value through content, including livestreaming sales events, influencer marketing, and personalized products and experiences. Adding value through convenience, however, was the primary trend after March 2020. Logicbroker found Curbside pickup options, buy now, pay later (BNPL) financing options, and drop shipping were ultimately the most successful trends.
Staffing + Supply Chain Issues
This holiday season, one thing plaguing all retailers (97%) are challenges with the supply chain. Inventory and supply chain issues have been a mainstay since the onset of COVID-19, and 83% of retailers expect these challenges to continue throughout 2022.
Labor shortages were the second most oft-cited challenge with 76% of respondents agreeing their company is worried about having adequate staffing to consistently deliver on promised customer experiences online this holiday season. As a result, 88% of retailers have hired seasonal workers for eCommerce operations. Three quarters agree that they’ll be better staffed to support online sales than in-store sales—and better prepared to meet product demand. 71% of retailers say they will have more inventory available online than in-store this holiday shopping season and 74% say their company will have more diverse product offerings online than in stores.
The Future of eCommerce: Flexibility
Due to this constant change and uncertainty, retailers increasingly recognize the importance of flexibility when it comes to meeting consumer demands. 76% of retailers agree that inventory surplus has kept them from being able to respond to timely trends and demand surges. For enterprises, that represents $2,711,350 in lost sales. As result, 63% of companies say they’re now actively looking for ways to decrease warehousing needs, such as drop shipping, to enable them to respond more quickly to surges and trends. Some of the retailers who said they aren’t interested in decreasing warehouse space cite concerns around relinquishing control of the user experience and sharing customer data with third parties.
At the same time, retailers acknowledge the influence of customers’ ever-shifting expectations. More than two-thirds of respondents concur that a poor shipping experience, where a product is delayed, incorrect, or even perceived to be slow, will result in a loss of loyalty, while 86% of retailers agree that consumers will quickly lose interest in a brand or retailer that does not sell through their preferred channel(s). In other words, customers will favor the retailer who can get them the product they want, how and when they want it. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that 76% of retailers agree that improving omnichannel operations will be essential to their company’s long-term survival.
Consumers’ high expectations and robust appetite for online shopping aren’t going anywhere soon—and neither, it seems, are supply chain and labor challenges. But with greater inventory flexibility, companies can fully capitalize on the eCommerce opportunity, even in today’s uncertain retail environment.