For industries of all stripes, 2020 was a year of incredible change—and the retail space was no exception. As we look towards a post-pandemic world, many of us are asking “what’s next?” Below, discover the top 10 post-pandemic retail shopping trends for 2021 and beyond, and leverage them to set your store on a future-forward path for success.

1. In-store still wins.

Everyone knows consumer behavior is changing and digital shopping solutions are growing. But what many people don’t know is that 90% of shopping transactions still happen in the store. In one Prosper Insights & Analytics study, 68% of consumers said they still depend on physical store locations being open for their shopping needs. As commercial real estate becomes more affordable, many retailers—even those who rely primarily on digital—are jumping at the chance to secure physical space themselves.

Contrary to the popular narrative, brick and mortar isn’t going anywhere. Leveraging your physical location as a powerful consumer touchpoint should be an essential part of your business strategy. Consumers enjoy browsing the aisles and squeezing their produce, and it’s a specialized experience that your purely online and e-commerce competitors can’t offer.

2. Online is on the rise.

While the rise of online grocery shopping certainly won’t be the end of physical stores, there’s no question that the market is growing. According to a report by the Mastercard Economics Institute, consumers spent $900B more online in 2020 versus the prior two-year trend. By March, up to 40% of consumers had tried online grocery shopping, a steady increase from the earlier months.

While much of this growth was influenced by pandemic-fueled stay-at-home orders, many Americans enjoyed the convenience and ease of online grocery shopping long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, and will continue to enjoy it. Adding it on as an additional service offering to your in-store experience, either by hiring your own delivery staff, turning to a third-party partner, or building the offering into your digital retail media platform, can be a great way to capitalize on the benefits of both trends—and boost incremental sales.

3. E-commerce continues to expand.

The e-commerce surge is far from over. A report from eMarketer projects that retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. will increase by 13.7% to nearly $909B in 2021. While this is lower than last year's 18% increase to almost $710B, it still exceeds pre-pandemic estimates by more than 5%.

Many pandemic-related trends are continuing to linger into 2021, and e-commerce is no exception. Continuing to watch the category—and seizing the opportunities it presents—will be an important part of implementing a sustainable strategy and a smart recovery.

4. Mobile is booming.

As we look toward the future of retail, mobile ad spend is continuing to grow—and so is consumer mobile usage. Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) digital ad spending is expected to increase by more than 16% and grow to $22.5 billionnext year. Of that total spend, 73% will be for mobile. In 2020 alone, time spent on mobile devices increased by 14%, up to three hours and six minutes per person, per day.

Getting a piece of the mobile ad spend pie means opening up mobile channels of your own—whether through a digital retail media network or another route—and unlocking valuable digital real estate for your brand partners. Consumers are eager to engage with you on their mobile devices, so it’s high time you meet them there. In the end, it’ll mean wins for you, your brand partners, and your consumers.

5. Contactless checkout is taking over.

After more than a year of hyper-strict sanitization practices, many consumers are finding that hygienic shopping options continue to be important to them. According to Prosper Insights & Analytics, 45% of consumers believed that the new shopping behaviors they adopted during the pandemic have become “habits” that will continue after the pandemic.

Contactless payment is among those habits. Roughly 19% of consumers report preferring contactless pickup when frequenting a business, and nearly 35% prefer contactless checkout in general. A Mastercard report found that 82% of respondents view contactless as the cleaner way to pay, and 74% plan to continue opting for contactless interactions in the future.

6. Digital payments will prevail.

It’s not just contactless, but digital payments in general that are positioned to prevail post-pandemic. Another recent report found that in the last year, 50% of global shoppers used digital payments more than before the pandemic, and the majority plan to continue doing so after the pandemic ends.

Digital wallets are another piece of this trend, allowing consumers to add their credit card information or load cash onto their mobile devices, and pay using their phones. As more retailers get on board, be sure that you’re not falling behind. After all, a digital wallet offering either through your retail media network or another channel could help you capitalize on more than one of the aforementioned trends.

7. Omnichannel engagement is everything.

Consumers seek variety and excitement. Omnichannel offerings and engagement strategies are becoming increasingly lucrative for retailers of all kinds—delivering consumers multimedia advertisements, opportunities, and more to capture their attention. From graphics to video to interactive features and displays, you’ll reach your customers in a more sticky, sustainable way, while boosting your overall touchpoints and advertising strategy.

As consumers interact with your brand (and your partner brands) across multiple channels and multiple devices, you can provide an enticing experience extending throughout all phases of their shopping journey—from mobile to desktop to app-based and even into your brick and mortar store. Leveraging a multi-channel sales approach won’t just create an integrated shopping experience, it’ll multiply your sales—and there’s no better time than now to embrace the future of retail media.

8. Privacy concerns persist.

As digital offerings expand, customers are becoming increasingly concerned with their data: who is accessing it, what it consists of, where it’s going, and what it’s being used for. These concerns are valid, and many retailers with a digital presence are beginning to adapt their behavior.

As third-party cookies phase out, turning to a digital solution that runs on first-party data is essential to both your immediate and long-term success. Owning first-party data opens up a wealth of opportunities, allowing you to generate more relevant content for your consumers, better personalize your targeted advertisements, all while prioritizing your customers’ peace of mind. First-party data collection may be the latest privacy trend, but trust is a mainstay—and maintaining that is your most important job.

9. Local shopping is in for the long haul.

Small businesses struggled disproportionately during the pandemic, resulting in a wave of local shopping trends. According to a National Retail Federation report, 49% of consumers made purchases with the deliberate goal of supporting local small businesses during the pandemic.

This trend is expected to persist well into 2021. A Nextdoor survey found that 72% of its members believe they will frequent local businesses more often after the crisis ends. Even if you’re not a small business, you are local. And in many ways, local shoppers may be your most loyal customer base. Capitalizing on this trend means monetizing your existing local customer base, making the most of your customer loyalty to grow your business.

10. Retail media is being redefined.

In 2021, retail media is being redefined. What was once limited to on-the-shelf promotions and meager in-app coupon features is exploding into a lucrative, multimedia, and digitally driven category. As you expand your understanding of retail media to include powerful digital engagement and advertising hubs, know that getting on board is your best bet for the future of your store.

As the lines between online and in-store continue to blur—and as both become increasingly profitable for leading-edge retailers—turning to a digital retail media network that delivers the best of both to your customers is key. The right digital retail media network can improve customer engagement, increase satisfaction, and drive incremental sales across the entire customer journey.

To learn more about Swiftly-powered digital retail media networks, get in touch today.