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Retail predictions for 2021

Despite the surge in online sales during the pandemic, many retail analysts believe that we won’t see the end of physical stores

Over the last 12 months, there hasn’t been a shortage of companies investing in technology and digitization to attract and retain customers who have grown to expect convenience and personalization during the lockdown periods. Similarly, the rapid growth of the retail rental market is allowing consumers to be more flexible and trend-led in their purchasing decisions.

We analyse retailers’ online performance using the BOSCO™ Index, which is a measure of how well you are exploiting your digital opportunities compared to your competitors. The index is computed 0-1000, with 575 being the average score for retailers. If a retailer scored 1000, it would mean it is the only provider of that service in that country and category, while a score of 0 would mean that the retailer has no offering online.

Using cutting-edge data science, BOSCO™ pulls in third-party data for the domains to rank and compare their paid search and SEO offering and each website’s online performance. As we slowly return to some level of normality, here’s our predictions for 2021 and beyond.

What will happen to physical retail stores?

Despite the surge in online sales during the pandemic, many retail analysts believe that we won’t see the end of physical stores. Several prominent retailers are focusing on blending online and in-store shopping, emphasizing creating a more engaging shopping experience for consumers in digitally advanced stores.

Walmart (BOSCO™ Index: 600) are planning to create a simpler, mobile-inspired shopping experience for consumers in 2021. Their refurbished shops will feature assigned letter and number combinations for aisles and more self-checkout kiosks. Complimenting their new mobile app, these stores will encourage app usage, with separate sections for items such as toys and electronics.

In recent months, we have seen an explosion in click-and-collect services. Some retailers, particularly supermarkets, were already prepared for the change. While the service has been especially useful during the crisis, it has also introduced millions of shoppers to a convenient channel that they may be unwilling to give up. 23% of online shoppers prefer some form of click-and-collect service over having orders delivered to their homes.

How are retailers embracing the rental market?

The popularity of rental services, such as homes, cars and entertainment, has grown over the last few years. This trend is now moving over to the retail sector, particularly as we’re seeing a big shift to sustainable fashion and interest in brands that are environmentally conscious, even prior to the pandemic. GlobalData estimates the clothing rental market will be worth £2.3bn by 2029 and, with this in mind, we discuss the ways in which retailers are tapping into the trend of rental products.

Rental services are giving consumers flexibility. The ability to rent a product rather than buy, particularly significant in technology, means monthly payments will be much lower, with the option for consumers to choose their monthly payment amount to suit their budget.

Additionally, in sectors such as clothing and footwear, this allows fashion-conscious consumers the option to pick and choose their outfits in line with seasonality.

Luxury department store Selfridges (BOSCO™ Index: 649) launched in-store rental early last year for the first time in a pop-up store with rental platform Hurr Collective (720). They have further expanded this deal with a new online rental offering, built for the next generation of customers whose aspirations exceed their income.

These innovative rental services facilitate the transition to a circular economy. With more of us making sustainable choices, particularly in areas such as fashion and furniture where tastes change so often, items can be returned to the retailer and reused or recycled in the correct manner.

As a retailer, it can be difficult to plan and profit from digital marketing spend. Connecting your own data to BOSCO™ can help you discover where you are missing revenue opportunities and integrate all your marketing data in one place. Find out how BOSCO™ can help you by booking a demo.