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22 Retail Trends to Watch in 2022

Recently, we published a blog post on the coming year’s still-burgeoning online retail growth. A quick scan through those statistics and you might be quaking in your B&M store-bought boots. However, even with the drastic shift that retailing experienced in 2020 and onwards, physical stores are here to stay. According to a recent survey – despite Covid-fear plus convenience and free delivery – almost half of consumers still prefer in-person shopping over online, and 90% will return if they have a positive experience.

That doesn’t mean that B&M stores don’t have their work cut out for them. They do. Online stores offer expediency, fast shipping, a wide virtual variety and other benefits that physical stores just can’t accommodate. In addition, digital technology has taken its toll on consumers, cutting their attention spans in half (to 8 seconds!) and upping their gratification needs.

With such competition at their customers’ fingertips, retailers have to be more aware than ever of the importance of attracting and keeping new and existing customers. The easiest, most accessible way to manage the in-store experience is through design. Read the following 22 retail design trends that showcase the importance of being intentional in strategizing how your retail space looks and feels.

  1. Tell a story. There’s a reason we love those Paul Newman pasta sauces and Tom’s shoes – we know the stories behind them. These two companies, and thousands of others, share their values and the reason their brand exists with their audience. Brand storytelling, whether it’s conservation or adoption or something else, communicates why the product matters and it’s bigger than ever.
  2. Reveal your values. Roughly 70% of consumers say they would rather buy from a company that aligns with their values, even if that means spending more. Letting consumers know that mental health or physical wellbeing or animal care are near and dear to your brand’s heart might endear them more deeply.
  3. Make it homey. “There’s no place like home” might be a tired cliché, but it’s still true. Research confirms that people gravitate toward what feels like home to them – comfortable, inviting, home-like atmospheres already abound in restaurants and hotels and bookstores. It’s also part of the reason any store with a coffee bar sees an increase in business.
  4. Acknowledge the “at home” economy. Brand new to the retail world is attempting to lure people OUT of their homes where they are more than ever cooking, shopping, and working from. Retailers need to face the reality of trying to bridge this gap.
  5. Focus on the customers. You know, the past 2 years have made it really easy to take our eyes off the ball. Focusing on safety and mandates and protocols might have pulled your focus from the customer to the logistics. Now’s the time to readjust and make your customers love you (not just your product) by nurturing relationships and rewarding loyal shoppers. According to a Bain & Co. study, a 5% increase in customer retention correlates to a 25% increase in profit.
  6. Increase convenience. About 1 out of 4 people is an online shopper, and the main reason is convenience. In my small-ish city, we have 4 major Walmart stores, but Walmart also brought 3 “neighborhood markets” or downsized version of their stores to our town, making shopping there much easier. I’d MUCH rather shop at the smaller store than order and pickup from the large one. It’s just more convenient.
  7. Increase focus on prudence. Let your clients know that you are aware that times are weird right now and that most people are attempting to be more frugal. Even if you have a high-end product, acknowledging financial reality helps connect you to your customers.
  8. Increase focus on sustainability. The obsession with sustainability isn’t going anywhere. And it’s not just the carbon footprint people want to know about, but how long will this product last, when will I have to replace it, is it worth it.
  9. Increase focus on health and wellness. Between Covid and the keto diet and the escalation of mental health issues, health and wellness businesses and products have surpassed the billion dollar industry mark. Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional health and wellness, it’s on every shopper’s mind, so it had better be on yours.
  10. Try sophisticated and minimalistic. Less is more, right? How can you reduce displays or increase space around fewer products or use lighting and space better? “In retail, space conveys value,” the Vend blog “The more space there is in a store or display, the higher the perceived value of the merchandise.” Think spacious jewelry store vs. crowded thrift store.
  11. Choose natural lighting — or natural-looking light. Unless you have a business that needs a particularly cool color temperature to best display products, using a warmer natural light boosts the mood of the shopper and enhances the appeal of products.
  12. Spring clean before spring. The easiest, least expensive quick fix any retailer can employ is cleaning. A clean retail space is one of those things that customers only notice when it’s NOT there. Expand your definition of “clean” to include clean lines on arrangements and product display, clean lighting, clean aromas. Engage all the senses.
  13. Sell them softly. Create an interaction with the product and let it sell itself. This is the idea behind those wine quizzes that tell you what your “type” is or the makeup quizzes that reveal your true palette. It’s also the reason recipes are always on the back of cake mixes and soup cans – the power of suggestion creates the resell.
  14. Make it personal. The personal touch relates to a lot of this year’s trends. Beyond collecting personal data and painting customers with a wide brush, retailers can tailor the data to make each touchpoint more relevant. Nine out of ten consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations pertinent to them.
  15. Make it interactive. People still love being immersed in a shopping experience. Think the car test drive or the samples at Costco or any out-of-the-ordinary time you can offer folks who walk through your door. Our local shoe store has a giant wheel you spin when you walk in that gives an automatic discount. It’s hokey but fun!
  16. Keep up with technology. Do you utilize QR codes? Does your store have an app for customers? Do you text out announcements, giveaways, surveys? Target’s Circle App alerts shoppers to deals in nearby aisles. Sonic has a personal greeting for app-users who pull in to their bays. How can you up your technology game?
  17. Try cashier-less shopping and self-checkout. Not only does it cost between 20%-30% of a human worker, according to the Verizon Look Forward study, but 23% of consumers use self-checkout anytime it’s available. Cashierless shopping (shoppers scan and pay for products on the store app as they go) is rising so fast it’s difficult to get current data, so these will continue to see a steady increase in 2022.
  18. Think customer safety. Designing your physical space to remain ever-aware of customer safety conveys your store’s concern for your clientele.
  19. Think alternate payment options. Don’t miss the boat on this very simple, very easy, very effective way of streamlining both safety and convenience for your customers. Digital and contactless payment forms are beginning to outmarch cash and card payments, and this year might be the year they surpass them.
  20. Engage omnichannel marketing. Once upon a time, it was a buzzword in the marketing world, but now omnichannel marketing is a necessity and the screws are tightening all the time. Consumers not only desire, but they EXPECT a seamless experience whether they are on their iPads, on their phones, in the app, or in the store. If there’s a breakdown somewhere for them, that translates to them as a breakdown in their experience, and thus, your ROI.
  21. Be social. Social media is not new and neither is social commerce, but social commerce is booming. More people than ever are not only influenced by what they see on social media, they are buying through that medium.
  22. And the best trend of all is . . . people are still buying, buying, buying!

Let us help you make the most of your retail interiors and fixtures for 2022!

Photo by Mike Petrucci