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What retailers will focus on in 2022

We can’t stop and won’t stop talking about the supply chain—neither will retailers.
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Francis Scialabba

· 4 min read

The future is now. The last two years forced retailers to rethink their business strategies, and so will 2022. But which will take priority this year?

We spoke to retail analysts, experts, and execs to find out.

Chain, chain, chain

We can’t stop and won’t stop talking about the supply chain—neither will retailers. Under Armour COO Colin Browne thinks we’ll be doing so long after 2022.

“This decade will be the decade of [the] supply chain,” Browne told Retail Brew. “The difference between good and great is going to be those brands, those businesses, that really understand how to pivot their supply chain toward [the] customer and that DTC model.”

To that end,  Nikki Baird, VP of retail innovation at Aptos, expects retailers to amp up different fulfillment options throughout the year, calling out dark stores, gray stores, and dropshipping, to move goods faster and faster.

  • Companies will also push to be more dynamic, she told us: Why not use your e-comm distribution center to replenish a store if that’s where inventory is moving faster? Or vice versa?

“Retailers are looking at 2022 as the year to revisit their inventory strategies across the supply chain, but especially as it relates to getting inventory into the hands of customers,” she said.

Whenever, wherever

Getting customers to come back is a focus every year, but retailers are figuring out what retention looks like today, given all the options available to shoppers.

“Building loyalty does not just mean earning points,” noted Emily Pfeiffer, senior analyst of commerce technology at Forrester. “It means wanting to come back again and again. And customers demonstrate that loyalty when they feel there’s a benefit, when they feel heard, when they’re having the experiences they want in all places.”

“In a world in which experience is everything and consumers want to shop everywhere…every touchpoint should be shoppable,” she told us.

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Mike Schultheis, who heads up PetSmart’s retail operations in the West, told us late last year that it comes down to recognizing that customers want to shop through multiple channels—from the store to online to BOPIS, even recurring purchases. Retailers need to be in all those places.

  • In-store shopping is still PetSmart’s main sales driver, but Schultheis said the company’s curbside pickup and same-day delivery options saw an uptick last year.

Updating

Retailers always want to make it easier for customers to shop. This year, they’ll also focus on making it easier for workers to help.

“Retailers have always kind of had a love-hate relationship with tech for store associates in stores,” Baird told us. “But when you’re having them do curbside, and having them do picking in the aisles, they’ve got to have tech in their hands.”

  • Walmart already gave 700,000+ Samsung phones to employees last year, pre-downloaded with its [email protected] app, to help manage tasks.

Pfeiffer echoed that the tech has gotten better and more usable—i.e., finding suggested products based on a customer’s shopping history or locating items in a store. Maybe to the point that retailers will consider also putting it in the shopper’s hands.

Baird acknowledged that “should be an element of the digital-enabled store experience,” but she cautioned against cutting out the worker completely. “Retailers should not leave associates out of the equation.”

Pay up

Up next for BNPL? The store.

“During the past year, retailers saw the benefit of offering BNPL on their e-commerce sites—now they want to capitalize on those benefits in the physical retail setting,” Baird said.

  • She also noted the space might see some regulatory backlash in 2022. (The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in December said it plans to look into BNPL platforms.)

But the buck doesn’t stop at BNPL. “Consumers have more varied and more complex expectations for payment options than ever before,” Pfeiffer told us. “They expect to be able to use other systems for paying—they expect to be able to defer payments. And every one of these expectations presents another obligation for retailers.” Integrating it all will be key in 2022.

from our sponsor

Text ‘2022’ for more info. Shoppers have made it clear they want to continue connecting with brands via SMS in the new year. No surprise there—most marketers are saying SMS outperforms their other channels. Whether you’re new to the SMS game or just need a refresher, check out Attentive’s webinar to learn how to launch and scale an SMS program in 2022. Or if you wanna get a jump on it (hey, not a bad idea), book a demo with Attentive today. Qualified brands can try Attentive out for free. 

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