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Top 3 trends that will shape the future of retail in 2021

People crowd Oxford Street, one the main shopping streets in central London on December 14, 2013, with only two weekends to go until Christmas. AFP PHOTO/JUSTIN TALLIS

It is easy to forget that prior to the pandemic the high street retailer was thought to be living on borrowed time as the consumer switched allegiances to online retail.

The last nine months have only been a catalyst to that, with a number of well-known chains and countless more independents going under, and more to follow.

Toby Bland, industry expert and senior vice president of business development at Teleperformance, has taken a look at what bricks-and-mortar retailers can do to stay ahead of the competition at this worrisome time.

The re-invention of stores

Even though COVID-19 has massively accelerated the growth of e-commerce in 2020, there will be a renewed emphasis on physical stores by early 2021. Consumers, previously restricted by the virus, will crave physical and social interaction.

However, many well-known players are unlikely to return and we will witness many brands innovating the physical space again.

The stores that will survive in the new normal will focus more on the experiential side of things, reduce physical touchpoints, and expand and simplify click and collect services –to make the journey frictionless for customers wanting to get in and out of stores quickly.

“The re-invention of stores will be catapulted forward by innovations such as self-service technology, curbside pickup and interactive fitting rooms, as well as sustainable refill stations.


Businesses are likely to diversify both their product and service range in 2021. Coronavirus restrictions forced companies to recalibrate their offerings and pivot strategies quickly to gain hearts and wallets in peripheral sectors.

We will expect retailers to hone in on data to understand their customers’ needs and purchasing behaviours and drive hyper-personalised products and services at scale.

Retailers are also likely to diversify their physical footprint by adding hyper-localized pop-up stores to cover specific occasions and ultimately meet consumers where they are.

Big data transforming supply chains

Next year, we will see brands pull away from traditional sales events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday and provide sustained deals and discounts both online and in-store all year round. This is likely to impact both on-shore and global supply chains.

To keep up with the surge in demand, retailers must use predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence to accurately gauge how much of each product they need and what their customers want even before they know what they want.

This will in turn limit wastage and reduce the impact on the environment.


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