Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

2022 is the year retailers get fearless with innovation

By Melissa Minkow, Director, Retail Strategy at CI&T

2021 was the year retailers leveraged consumers’ receptivity and comfortability with online shopping. At this point, efficient websites and omnichannel offerings are either table stakes or are well underway to becoming so. Thus, 2022 should be the year that retailers kick it up a notch, put any fears behind them and enact the technologies that have been waiting in the wings for the right implementation to accelerate consumer uptake. If communicated and executed correctly, here are the retail strategies and efforts we can expect from 2022.

Omnichannel meets omnipresence

In 2022, everything will start to be seen as one giant store – whether that’s brick and mortar, or ecommerce. But this doesn’t just mean the two umbrellas operating together. Consumers now have access to retailers in so many different ways that they’ll increasingly be viewed as one and the same, rather than in competition with each other. This means that for retailers, the new omnichannel strategy will be about real omnipresence. It doesn’t matter how consumers find or access retailers, it just matters how they can make themselves present everywhere, both direct to consumers and across third-party platforms. Retailers will no longer need to fear cannibalization as they insert themselves into as many environments to be available to their customers as much as possible. We’re already seeing this manifest in the form of new online marketplaces being launched by retailers.

Data sharing gets real

Retailers will demonstrate far less fear when it comes to data sharing. Data capture is becoming more heavily regulated and the more regulated it is, the less available it becomes. Therefore in 2022, we’ll see brands and retailers being forced to own more data together. Right now, no one is winning from a supply chain perspective because data is being held so closely to the source. Smart retailers will be those that allow suppliers access to their data, and vice versa.

This will have huge benefits in terms of allowing retailers and suppliers to align goals and optimise decision-making. For example, being able to map out correlations between baskets (purchased items) will offer consistent predictive value over data such as a customer’s age or gender, which is data that all parties, from suppliers to retailers, currently agree to be most valuable to them.

Vertical integration

With supply chain disruption ongoing, we’ll start to see more retailers taking delays into their own hands – be it starting their own or acquiring a postal service, or buying proprietary ships, jets or factories. This means having more ownership over their manufacturers and factories, making it less of a concern to communicate supply chain issues since they will already know about them. This opens the door for retailers to reassess every single mile of the supply chain process – whether it’s factories, shutdowns, shipping or postal delays. Brexit has furthered the need for more localised involvement.

Data-powered loyalty programmes

The new wave of customer loyalty will be about offering exclusivity. But this won’t be based on how much consumers spend. With data as the currency in retail, brands will want to look for innovative ways to incentivise consumers to share as much personal information as possible. Retailers will increasingly encourage shoppers to opt into data sharing via all kinds of exclusive perks in return for data – for example, how often they shop there, preferred brands within the retailer, and even colour palette preferences. The more information the customer is willing to provide, the more access they have to different things – for example, customised web pages, different promotion schemes compared to others, or quicker delivery. Data is fast becoming the holy grail as it’s increasingly being regulated, so the less available it is to retailers, the more they need to find creative ways to get it from consumers.

The power of rising tech

Success in 2022 will depend on how well retailers can nail rising tech. We’ll see more retailers trialling and adopting walk-out technologies, both to eliminate friction from the customer experience but also to provide greater opportunities for retailers to learn more about their customer base. Self-checkout is still too inefficient, and apps and QR codes provide great opportunities for data collection since consumers are forced to download or scan them in order to breeze through the purchase moment. Retailers are already running exclusive in-app offers and loyalty schemes to incentivise app downloading, so on-the-go point of sale will draw in even more consumers and make app usage more consistent.

Social commerce is another area where the customer experience will be elevated even further. Collaborative shopping carts are the next iteration of this, where shoppers will be able to host ongoing carts on retailers’ sites or apps with friends and family who can add items for each other to review pre-purchase. Some brands have already made the move and jumped on the opportunity, but it’s now up to the rest to keep up with the upward trend and stay relevant.