7 innovative trends in the retail industry

From grocery chains to the world of high-end fashion and beauty, innovation is proving to be key

26 novembre 2021
  • Atalanti Angelopoulou

Forward-thinking retailers are adapting their game to meet ever-evolving consumer demands and seize market opportunities.

Technology is now set to shape the sector’s future as retailers look to come out stronger from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are seven innovative trends to watch.

1. Personalising the consumer experience

Personalisation of the customer experience is becoming a key strategy for a range of retailers looking to differentiate themselves from competitors. Jewellery maker Vashi opened a new store in London, where customers can become involved in the entire process of jewellery making, while Louis Vuitton has its new shopping concept; LV by Appointment, bringing the retail store to key customers through a mini mobile store that can be driven to their homes.

2. Augmented Reality in the beauty industry

By 2025, nearly 75 percent of the global population will be frequent AR users, according to Deloitte. This has recently triggered interest from the beauty industry, with several beauty retailers offering new technologies to try out products. At the same time, retailers can save costs on expensive in-store tester products; the MAC Cosmetics store in New York and L’Oréal House of Worth in Shanghai to name just two. It’s a trend which could clearly grow further.

3. Cashier-free and ‘Scan & Go’ stores on the up

While cashier-free and ‘scan & go’ stores were opening-up prior to the pandemic, this trend has undoubtedly accelerated due to the pandemic. Food retailer Continente launched the first automated grocery store in Portugal this year, teaming up with autonomous technology provider Sensei. In Düsseldorf, digital supermarket TYPY opened in late 2020.

4. Sustainability key

Sustainability continues to be key in gaining competitive advantage for retailers, even during uncertain times. Some 60 percent of consumers are still willing to spend up to 20 percent more on eco-friendly products, according to a McKinsey and Company survey. And retailers are coming up with new concept stores as they look to increase awareness; Denim company Levi’s concept store in London focuses on the lifespan of a garment.

5. Fresh approach to grocery delivery

Grocery delivery start-ups have emerged strongly, coming up with a new approach to e-commerce. Companies such as Getir, Gorillas and Glovo deliver groceries within 10 minutes, achieved through micro-fulfilment centres at former retail units within city centres. 

6. The shift to smaller store formats

Big box retailers continue to experiment with smaller-store formats close to consumers, driven by urbanisation and customer demand for convenience. Urban population across Europe is expected to grow by 3.5 percent between 2021 and 2035, according to Oxford Economics. IKEA now has smaller stores in key urban locations in both Paris and Moscow.

7. From digital to physical

New brands are entering the physical store space for the first time. For many consumers, physical stores remain the preferred shopping channel. For digital-native brands, physical space helps to further build brand image beyond just online marketing and advertising. Google opened its first permanent physical store in New York earlier this year, selling mainly its own hardware products.

Despite the uncertain climate, it’s encouraging to see retailers now testing new innovative solutions as they look to improve margins and differentiate from competitors, with more concepts emerging to meet changing consumer demands.