For many years now my role as the head of the Ecommerce Club has been to facilitate discussion around trends, technology and innovation that is relevant to the ecommerce sector at events and webinars but I don’t actually implement anything myself. The pandemic changed my events business and gave me the opportunity to assist with the set up of my own ecommerce business www.chigwellsheds.com which has given me a different perspective and focused my mind on what’s needed by the customer more so than ever before.
Therefore thinking about 2021 there are a couple of angles on which trends will be most important to embrace. One perspective to take into account is the dissemination of the high street, the demise of many larger retail brands over the past pandemic year such as Debenhams, Top Shop, Paperchase (now rescued), Miss Selfridge, Edinburgh Woollen Mill who owned Jaegar and Peacocks, Oasis and Warehouse but many of these brands we already know are being salvaged by the pureplays and turned into online only brands. The only exception could be the iconic Top Shop store at Oxford Circus if it can be achieved in a separate deal with the landlords and owners (not Arcadia) so they can keep the long term preserve of ‘I’ll meet you outside Top Shop’ for all those fashion shoppers who still want to do some social shopping on a Saturday afternoon. The other is the growth of smaller more niche online retailers who have translated their businesses online in recent times to enable a continuation of service to their customers or to plug the gap in their usual trading. These include many a local high street shops such as DIY stores, butchers, haberdashers, gift stores and boutiques as well as builders merchants, garden centres and shed/home studio sellers like my good self. The benefit of the massive and continued growth in online shopping and ecommerce delivery is that the technology and customer service advances made by the enterprise level retailers will inevitably filter down to the SMEs and there will be versions of all the platforms and software available at an entry point level….this is why I love technology!
With this in mind my top 3 retail trends are…
- Prevalence of Fashion Portals and the importance of strong logistics
There will be an amalgamation of multiple brands into online department stores. It looks likely that JD Sports, ASOS, Next and Boohoo will be the main protagonists but interestingly Marks & Spencer’s are also buying up brands like Jaegar to add to their portfolio although it will be interesting to see how this pans out online as well as in-store. Next already offer access to multiple brands online although in my experience their fulfilment is not as strong as some of the pureplays so I see the further digitisation of the supply chain, better tracking apps for freight businesses and efficient customer friendly delivery and returns policies as key to the ultimate success of fast fashion.
- Mobile Commerce & PWAs
Every year we refer to the year of mobile but now pretty much everyone is buying online, mobile browsing conversion to buying is of great import. A smartphone for fast fashion buyers is likely to be the main device of choice so the use of PWAs or progressive web apps will grow in 2021. We’re doing a webinar on this topic with Screen Pages on February 10th at 2pm if you want to listen in here
- Customer Service & AI
As there becomes less face-to-face interaction in the shopping journey with many physical stores shut temporarily or permanently I think the use of AI to automate customer service interactions backed up by technology to still allow for human contact when necessary will be the way forward. Some purchases will still require some expert sales advice but the likelihood is that this will be given through online live chat or video chat.
By Davina Lines