While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been a time of disruption, it also has been a time of evolution and, in some cases, complete reinvention. Retailers had the unique opportunity to step back and take a hard look at their brand values, strategies and priorities for connecting with consumers in a seamless, authentic way.
It wasn’t just the pandemic that encouraged these productive, and at times difficult, conversations. Civil unrest and calls for social justice last summer forced us to recognize how and why we’ve fallen short, and cemented the importance of diversity and inclusion at the business level.
During last month’s Retail Remix episodes, host Alicia Esposito and guests tackled these issues (and more) with heart, flare and passion. Subscribe to the pod here to access these candid conversations on a weekly basis, and keep reading to get a quick recap of February’s episodes.
Diversity & Inclusion: Separating Intention and Impact
Corporate social responsibility certainly isn’t a new concept, but it arguably has grown more critical over the past few years. As Gen Z shoppers continue to infiltrate the market, retailers need to keep in mind that this demographic has $143 billion in spending power and tends to support businesses that hold similar beliefs and values to their own. But monetary gain shouldn’t be the only reason your brand focuses on diversity and inclusion. If it is, expect to be called out on it.
During the February 1 episode, Michael Bach, Founder and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, shared how organizations can turn their well-intended statements around diversity into tangible action. He also breaks down the challenges, misconceptions and best practices business leaders need to know before they develop their strategies.
“One of the biggest things we’ve seen out of the Black Lives Matter movement is a lot of listening sessions where people of color, particularly Black and Indigenous people, are having the opportunity to share their lived experience,” Bach said. “And executives are sitting there listening and hearing things that they’ve never heard before.”
'Buy Now, Pay Later’ and the Next-Gen Payment Experience
As you may have guessed, the “buy now, pay later” boom is another trend popularized by Gen Z (and Millennials). Since both generations have witnessed the aftershocks of recessions and economic hardship, it’s no surprise that both groups are extremely cognizant of their financial health. They’re more likely to use their debit accounts and are more wary of racking up credit card debt. That’s where alternative payment methods can provide significant value.
During the February 8 episode, Alex Fisher, VP of Retail for Afterpay, discussed the new revolution happening in the retail payments space, and how the pandemic is creating new opportunities for retailers to differentiate their customer experiences. If you’re looking to make your omnichannel experience easier, faster and better, she notes that you simply can’t ignore the payment experience.
“It’s really about making sure this value proposition and being able to use your own money and pay over time is available for customers regardless of where they’re shopping,” Fisher said.
Retail’s Tech Acceleration Continues
The Outlook Guide has been a Retail TouchPoints editorial staple for nearly a decade. Every year, our team gets fascinating takes from experts and analysts on the trends they believe will dominate in the year ahead. But this year’s guide was especially interesting to curate, given the great acceleration of trends we witnessed in 2020.
During the February 15 episode, Outlook Guide contributor and President of Research & Advisory at Coresight Research Ken Fenyo broke down the details from his column and revealed the tech trends he believes will accelerate and dominate in 2021.
One of the standout trends for Fenyo? Livestreaming, which is becoming a new revenue driver for brands and a new way for Gen Z and millennial shoppers to connect with influencers, stylists and tastemakers. With these consumers spending more time scrolling endlessly on TikTok and Instagram, brands and retailers have the opportunity to use these channels to reimagine the traditional “home shopping” model from HSN and QVC.
“There’s a great role for retail to be a connector of various needs,” Fenyo said.
Liquor Ecommerce? I’ll Cheers to That
Imagine telling an prohibitionist that one day it’d be possible to get alcohol delivered right to your doorstep, whenever you want it. They’d be shocked at the possibilities of liquor commerce! COVID-19 forced shoppers to look at alternative methods for getting the products they need, liquor included. After all, how else would we calm our tensions after a long day of working from home, caring for our families and, well, simply surviving?
Sure, direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine services such as Winco, Dry Farms Wines and others, have garnered a loyal following among millennials, but the long-term impact of these trends could have a domino effect on the larger wine and spirits industry.
During the February 22 episode, Mike Provance, CEO of 3×3 Insights, shared how he believes the alcohol industry will change in the long term, and why it’s time for liquor stores to prioritize their online experiences. He also discussed the future of data-driven marketing for brands and liquor stores.
“Maybe more than two-thirds of stores out there have not implemented any significant sort of online ecommerce capabilities,” Provance said. “They aren’t making those moves and that’s a huge growing threat for them.”