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25 February 2022

Five Retail Trends to Watch in 2022

After more than two years of global lockdowns and social distancing measures, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape new customer expectations and create challenges for the retail sector.

The increased appetite for online shopping and digital interactions is fundamentally transforming the consumer journey. But it’s also redefining the identity of many retailers, leading them to become platforms, ecosystems and true omnichannel players in their own right.

With technology opening the way for more immersive online experiences, emerging consumer priorities are driving changes to both business models and product innovation.

Those retailers that are able to respond quickly to the evolving buying patterns of consumers will be the ones to gain a competitive advantage in this age of accelerated change.

In a market landscape that continues to be in flux, we’ve highlighted five key retail trends that brands should prepare for in 2022. 

An omnichannel strategy is now a must-have

Man walking in a high-tech store

Omnichannel is one of the biggest retail trends of 2022.

Shoppers today expect a seamless, connected and contactless shopping experience. Indeed, 83% of global consumers want to move across multiple channels when interacting with a brand.

Consumers typically engage with three to five channels during their purchasing journey. As such, more and more retailers are embracing omnichannel to create an integrated, effortless shopping environment. Spanning multiple channels, leveraging an omnichannel strategy in this way drives higher customer satisfaction and retention.

This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, same-day delivery or chatbots. These channels are key to providing customers with a smooth and interactive digital experience.

By 2025, organizations offering unified commerce experiences by frictionlessly moving customers through journeys will see at least a 20% uplift in total revenue.

The value of direct-to-consumer

Retail brands are constantly seeking to obtain new insights into their target audiences to understand how their needs and wants change and evolve over time – with DTC leading the way.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is a key retail trend in 2022, enabling brands to build direct and long-term relationships with end consumers. This connection enables the delivery of tailored and personalized offerings that lead to superior customer satisfaction and engagement.

As the pandemic accelerated the move to digital, more than half of brand manufacturers shifted their retail strategies to offer products directly to consumers.

DTC enables brands to gather their own data in real time and strengthen their knowledge around the consumer, while having more control over their marketing and sales efforts.

This can help brands to be more customer-centric and establish a deeper connection with consumers. It can also be an essential tool to develop effective personalization strategies, another of the key retail trends on the rise. 

Technology partnerships as the key to growth

Technological partnerships are a rapidly progressive retail trend in 2022.

Savvy retail brands are increasingly partnering with tech providers to scale their business agility. By updating their business models in this way, online businesses can effectively to meet emerging customer needs.

For instance, established retailers are increasingly teaming up with DTC brands to expand their online presence globally and reach new audiences. At the same time, this minimizes the risk and cost of doing it alone.

Others are collaborating with artificial intelligence and virtual reality companies to incorporate functionalities including virtual try-ons, mobile applications and chatbots. These offer consumers a seamless and superior customer experience that differentiates from their competitors. 

Fast returns are essential to thrive

The retail market in 2022 will be marked by the rising trend of alternative and rapid returns policies.

The product return process directly influences consumer purchasing decisions.

Three out of five US, UK and French consumers prefer retailers that offer free returns shipping. In the same vein, 92% of global consumers are more likely to make a repeat purchase if they experienced an easy return process.

Three out of five global consumers prefer retailers that offer refunds via the original form of payment over other methods.

Online shoppers consider negative returns experiences highly discouraging. Consequently, retailers are projected to upgrade their returns practices by embracing more streamlined processes. 

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The new role of brick-and-mortar stores

Despite the growing demand for digital experiences, consumers today still value the in-store retail experience. Indeed, 40% of consumers worldwide buy in store at least once a week.

However, since the pandemic, the role of the physical store has changed significantly – an important retail trend in 2022.

Bricks-and-mortar shops have gone beyond simple sales hubs. As retailers are increasingly focusing on offering innovative and high-quality in-store experience, physical stores today are experiential hubs, designed to entertain and educate consumers.

These real-world spaces often incorporate interactive displays and virtual try-on capabilities that can be synchronized to branded apps. Alongside this are in-store events and product demonstrations, which can then be streamed on social media, delivering a multi-channel experience for consumers. 

Seamless and connected solutions. The power of DTC to gather real-time customer data. Choosing the right technology partner to drive greater customer satisfaction and retention.

To meet these emerging retail trends and more, brands must transform and adapt their operations, digital and technology architecture.

At Ingenuity, we’ve helped retail brands do just that, embracing changing industry trends and thriving in a fast-changing and competitive market.

Ready to join our brands and enjoy retail success? Get in touch today.

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