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10 Retails Trends You Need to Know

Retail trends can help steer your strategic direction, and improve customer experience.

Brendan McConnell October 20, 2022
Woman looks at her cellphone with a smile.

Two retail trends that every business can count on in 2024 are change and innovation. Online and in-person retail is moving faster than ever. Technological innovation is leading that charge. And so are shifting consumer expectations.

Businesses need to stay on top of retail trends that will impact their success in order to get ahead of the curve. Embracing that change will help retailers thrive this year and beyond. But we know it can be hard to stay aware of trends on top of everything you have going on as a business owner.

That’s why we’ve rounded up the latest retail trends for 2024 and served them up in an easy-to-follow blog post. Keep reading to get trendy!

Bonus: Learn how to sell more products on social media with our free Social Commerce 101 guide. Delight your customers and improve conversion rates.

Why are retail trends important?

Retail industry trends are more than just blog post fodder. They’re markers for where businesses should put their attention and investment.

Here’s why you should pay attention to retail trends.

Inform your business strategy

Retail businesses need to keep a finger on the pulse of their industry and market. Tracking retail trends ensures that you are aware of what’s important today and tomorrow.

Understanding current and future market forces means that you can address them. In the last few years, online shopping has risen drastically. In 2022, 58.4% of global Internet users reported buying something online every week! And 30.6% of those purchases were made on a mobile device.

A takeaway from that is that if your business doesn’t have a mobile-friendly ecommerce store, and you’re not selling on social, then you’re already a step behind the rest of the industry.

Stay on top of trends. That way, you can incorporate them into your social media marketing strategies for retail brands going forward.

Anticipate customer needs

Customer expectations are shifting. How you engage customers next year won’t be the same as last year. And new competitors in your industry are addressing those needs in innovative new ways.

Retail trends help you stay on top of customer needs, purchasing wants, and expectations. And they let you keep tabs on how your competition will address them. This lets you pivot your strategy to meet new demands as needed.

Get ahead of the curve

Online and offline retail is changing rapidly. New technology is being introduced all the time to offer:

  • Omnichannel shopping
  • Self-serve commerce
  • Social selling
  • Automations
  • Same-day delivery
  • Interactive retail experiences
  • New customer acquisition channels

Staying on top of retail trends—especially technology trends—helps you stay one step ahead of the competition. It also ensures you can take advantage of new technology as it’s released.

Stay relevant

Following new retail trends means staying up-to-date and relevant. There are many stories of retailers who have failed to grow with the market. Blockbuster is a good example.

These companies often fail due to a loss of relevancy. They lose track of what their customers want today. As a result, they lose the customers of tomorrow.

Tracking retail trends ensures that your company isn’t left behind in your industry. It lets you adapt to the changing buyer expectations. And it lets you appeal to generation after generation of consumers.

By doing so, you remain relevant and you thrive as a company.

Take advantage of new opportunities

Retail industry trends ensure that you can identify and seize new opportunities as they appear.

Tracking where retail is going lets you:

  • Branch out into new market segments
  • Launch new sales and marketing channels
  • Offer new products and services
  • Provide new experiences for your customers

This requires significant investments. To justify that investment, you need strong signals from the market. Retail trends are one way to get that signal.

Identifying opportunities early means that you’re a step ahead of the competition. This opens the door to expansion and dominance in new market segments or geographies.

10 important retail trends to follow in 2024

Consumers made their voices heard loud and clear in 2022. And we can expect that to continue into 2024. At the same time, technology is greatly expanding what is possible for online and offline retail and business models need to adapt.

These are the ten most important retail trends to follow.

1. Ecommerce is here to stay

Ecommerce exploded in popularity and volume of sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. That growth has slowed, but ecommerce shopping habits are still very much here to stay.

Technology has made it easier than ever to sell online and social commerce is on the rise. As a result, there are now an estimated 12 to 24 million ecommerce stores globally. And 58.4% of internet users are buying online each week.

As a result, analysts expect the global ecommerce industry to grow to $8.1 trillion by 2026. That’s up from $5.7 trillion in 2022.

Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2026
Source: Statista

Ecommerce will continue to grow in both popularity and complexity in the coming years. In fact, eMarketer predicts that, by 2023, ecommerce websites will make up 22.3% of total retail sales.

What does that mean for retailers? Now is the time to double and triple down on your commitment to ecommerce. We’re rapidly approaching a state in retail where online shopping will be non-negotiable for consumers.

2. Safety is important to consumers

Governments and consumers are both demanding greater protections for personal data and privacy.

This is being driven by two factors:

  1. Growing concern about how social media companies and websites collect and use data
  2. Retail being the most targeted sector for cyberattacks starting in 2020

To respond to this demand, governments around the world have introduced major privacy laws like:

These laws are effectively dictating how companies collect, store, and use user data in the name of ensuring safety and privacy online.

Consumers are also speaking up about their online safety. And they’ve overwhelmingly said that they want to know how retail brands use their data.

Consumer privacy statistics show that around 81% of Americans express concerns regarding companies collecting private data.

Forbes recommends the following measures to help ensure user safety:

  • Using reputable payment providers
  • Creating and following data privacy and security best practices
  • Using fraud prevention tools
  • Installing SSL certifications
  • Ensuring your site if fully PCI compliant
  • Investing in a quality hosting provider

Consumers have become savvy about why they should protect their data online. Retailers will need to respond to this demand.

3. Self-service checkout options

Fast and efficient in-person shopping experiences have become an expectation in 2022. Self-service checkouts are a major driver of this demand.

The self-service checkout market was worth $3.44 billion in 2021. It’s expected to grow at an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of 13.3% between 2022 and 2023.

What’s driving that demand? According to Grand View Research, it’s a combination of pressures from:

  • Increasing costs of retail store space
  • Lengthening consumer queue times
  • Shortage of laborers
  • Rising labor costs
  • A desire for personalized shopping experiences

Retailers are trying to find ways to automate processes and save costs. Consumers want personalization, efficiency, and the ability to choose their own retail experience.

As a result, 58% of surveyed retail shoppers in North America say they have used in-store self-checkout. 48.7% say they use it exclusively. 85% think self-checkout is faster than waiting in line. And 71% would like an app they can use to buy products instead of waiting in a checkout queue.

4. Chatbots are the newest team members

Ecommerce chatbots have also exploded in popularity in recent years. Gartner predicts that they will be the main customer service tool for 25% of companies by 2027.

It’s not hard to see why. Chatbots help businesses:

  • Save money
  • Provide better customer service
  • Interact with customers on multiple channels at scale
  • Deliver always-on customer service
  • Expand globally without taking on more overhead

Retailers can use an ecommerce chatbot like Heyday to:

  • Answer FAQs
  • Engage customer
  • Automate personalized experiences for shopping
  • Offer post-online sales support with shipping and tracking information
  • Gather feedback and data
  • Provide multilingual support

And they can do all this at any time of day, without getting tired, and without the need to pay multiple salaries. Chatbots are, in essence, the perfect addition to any retail team hoping to provide an omnichannel experience for customer support.

A conversation between a customer and a chatbot.

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5. In-store appointment booking

Appointment shopping lets consumers book exclusive time in-store to browse products. This is an omnichannel and experiential retail sales strategy. It allows for greater personalization and white-glove customer service experiences.

Consumers can book exclusive in-store shopping experiences through a retailer’s ecommerce website. When there, they are treated as guests and can browse and test products with the help of a host. QR codes may be included on products that allow them to scan and purchase later.

Or, if a customer isn’t comfortable shopping in the brick and mortar store but don’t want to deal with shipping and supply chain issues, they book an appointment to buy online and pick up in store.

6. 24/7 customer service

Customer service expectations amongst consumers are higher than ever. Positive and negative experiences can impact the likelihood of repeat business.

But customer service doesn’t just have to be good. It also has to always be available. This is especially true for global retailers with customers in time zones around the world.

By providing reliable 24/7 customer support, they improve their relationship with customers. And, more importantly, they can mitigate frustrations caused by issues that are out of their control.

But it’s unrealistic to have a human support team available 24/7 so that’s where a chatbot can be handy. A conversational AI chatbot like Heyday can provide round-the-clock customer support for FAQs in multiple languages.

According to Retail Dive, 93% of respondents in a recent survey said they would be more patient about shipment delays if the brand offered great customer service. Now that’s worth noting!

7. Omnichannel shopping

To stay competitive, retailers must integrate in-store and online experiences.

Omnichannel shopping has quickly become the norm. Consumers want to be able to research online, and buy in-store. Or vice versa. And the distinction between those two has faded in recent years.

  • 60% of consumers say they conduct online research online before making a major purchase
  • 80% of the time a consumer returns a product in store and spends the refund with the same retailer

This means that retailers need to provide integrated online and offline experiences And those two worlds have to transition seamlessly into each other.

8. Transparency in shipping

Speed, cost, and transparency in shipping are three major retail trends right now.

  • According to a recent Forbes survey, 36% of consumers said they would give up ride-sharing for a year in exchange for free shipping on all online orders. Another 25% would be willing to give up coffee, and 22% would forgo Netflix.

But fast and free delivery isn’t enough. Fulfilling delivery promises is also critical to winning and retaining customers.

To do that, retailers need to be transparent about shipping timelines and delays. When shipping is delayed, but consumers aren’t informed, 69.7% say they are less likely to buy from that retailer again.

To ensure transparency, FedEx recommends:

  • Setting clear and realistic expectations for delivery time
  • Ensuring customers have a way to check the delivery status on demand

In their words, “transparent delivery information will become table stakes as more consumers demand more control.”

9. Less waste in packaging

Consumers are demanding that retailers use recyclable and sustainable packaging for their products for both digital and physical purchases. And it’s little wonder. Ecommerce packaging is the industry’s largest source of emissions. In fact, it’s six times higher than products purchased in-store.

According to Shorr’s Sustainable Packaging Consumer Report:

  • 76% of respondents say they’ve made a conscious effort to purchase more sustainable products in the past year
  • 86% say they are more likely to purchase from retailers if the packaging is sustainable
  • 77% expect more brands to offer 100% sustainable packaging in the future

The consumer demand for sustainable packaging is there. And retailers are taking notice. If sustainability and low-waste packaging isn’t a priority for you yet, it should be in 2024 and beyond.

10. Supply chain vulnerability and global crises

No retail trends report would be complete without addressing the elephants in the room. There was significant global upheaval in 2022 that is making it hard for retailers globally.

The war in Ukraine. Ongoing supply chain and logistics issues. Regional and global economic crises. And shifting nation trade agreements. All of these are creating significant headwinds for retailers.

But, buyers still expect transparent shipping. And they want sustainable goods, fair prices, and strong customer support.

The coming years will demand that retailers are flexible and agile. Find ways to meet these demands through technology, innovation, and following retail trends.

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By Brendan McConnell

Brendan McConnell is a freelance writer, SEO consultant, and fractional content marketer. He's spent the majority of his 10-year career writing content, creating strategies, and scaling traffic for B2B tech companies like Shopify, Telus, Docebo, Corel, Visier, Peer39, and Recruitee. With a background in journalism and a curious personality, Brendan is always looking for new topics, markets, and companies to write about. See more of his credentials on LinkedIn or his website.

Brendan lives in Ottawa, ON with his wife and two young daughters. When not working or chasing toddlers, he loves canoeing, fishing, hiking, hockey, and any other activity not in front of a computer screen.

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