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BizReport : Ecommerce : December 30, 2020

Trends to watch in retail for 2021

As we move into the New Year, some trends seem to be here to stay in digital marketing: the importance of the social channels, consumers' focus on wellness and individuality, and data as a key ingredient to any campaign. Here are a few retail trends that brands may want to incorporate now.

by Kristina Knight

First, AI and data replace 3rd party cookies

"As major ad networks like Google increasingly move away from third-party cookies, it is increasingly important for companies and brands to be able to leverage their own first-party consumer data to reach new and existing audiences. In retail specifically, brands are sitting on mass amounts of first-party data; they just haven't had a means of actioning it and putting it to work for them. AI is already able to parse through high volumes of first-party data to identify trends and predict next-best actions across nuanced audience sets," said Sherene Hilal, SVP of Product Marketing & Business Operations, Bluecore. "Soon we'll begin to see that it can also offer contextual insight at the individual level, making the interactions between company and consumer far more personal. For instance, it will understand shoppers' future interests, where they are in their individual buying cycles, and precisely when they want to hear from a brand. Even more, AI's understanding of the ideal circumstances under which an individual buys (e.g., with a 10% discount, every other month) will inform brands and retailers on which type of recommendations or offers are most likely to convert each shopper, so they can personalize at scale."

Second, look for shoppers to subscribe to brands, not products

"Subscriptions will evolve beyond an easy way to get the essentials and a novel way to try new things, to a way of forging deeper relationships between shoppers and brands. In 2021, brands will experience this shift in the form of consumers looking for a sense of community from them, acting more like members than customers," said Deanna Traa, CMO, Bold Commerce. "One way brands can add value to customers' memberships with them is by introducing new touchpoints with each delivery--whether a surprise item, a meaningful collaboration that makes this month's offering even more special, or products exclusive to the subscriber that are unavailable in-store. Flexibility and convenience will no longer be differentiators for brands' subscriptions programs; they'll be basic barriers to entry."

Third, the importance of personalization in product selection

"When brands had to prioritize items that were produced in mass store quantities, consumers were limited to lower forms of self-identification (think initials trinkets and birthstones that only identify superficial aspects of your story--such as your name or birth month--and are shared by large portions of the population). Now that brands can take a more bespoke and direct approach to how they interact with their customers, they're introducing more personalized forms of self-expression that allow consumers to tell more nuanced stories of self. This is especially important right now in a year where people will inevitably be looking for meaning and connection," said Gretel Going, Founder, Fortune & Frame.

Fourth, social moves from discovery to purchase portal

"Social media platforms like Facebook are making it easier for consumers to go from discovery to purchase without ever having to leave the platform, creating a simple and seamless path to purchase. With social commerce continuing to grow into 2021, retail brands will have to adapt to these platforms with new rules, similar to what many did with Amazon," said Massimiliano Tirocchi, CMO & Co-Founder, Shapermint.

Tags: Bluecore, Bold Commerce, ecommerce, ecommerce trends, Fortune & Frame, m:commerce trends, mobile commerce, retail trends, Shapermint, social commerce

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