Retail Trends for 2021

2021 promises to be a challenging year for all markets across the globe. Retail is certain to be one space where significant changes will be needed in the next 12 months to maintain its continued success.

2021 promises to be a challenging year for all markets across the globe. Retail is certain to be one space where significant changes will be needed in the next 12 months to maintain its continued success.

We are seeing businesses that once were concerned with the best method of retail (online vs physical) now ask the more appropriate questions surrounding how physical and online retail can work in harmony to create a more complete and satisfying customer experience.

Just like 2020 caught us off guard, there is no way of telling what 2021 may bring for retail businesses. However, there are several trends and concepts that appear to be set to shake up the space as we move into the future. In this article, we cover some of the most likely trends we will see in retail in 2021.

Pop Up & Temporary Stores

Of course, we couldn't kick off an article about retail trends without mentioning our specialty - pop up shops. But these aren't just included for self-promotion. Pop up and temporary stores are certain to play a major part in the ever-changing retail landscape.

As consumers continue to demand better experiences, pop up shops offer businesses a unique opportunity to test new store concepts, product lines, and processes without the commitment of a permanent store. The temporary nature of these stores also helps businesses generate a buzz and a sense of urgency around their retail offering. This is a powerful tool that is often difficult to achieve in a world of increasing convenience.

Digital & Physical Experiences

Many people believe that physical retail is destined for a difficult future, yet this could not be further from the truth. However, physical retail is unlikely to survive in the form that it has been widely accepted for many years.

There is no denying that online retail is challenging physical stores, with many people opting for the convenience of buying online and having their goods delivered directly to their homes. But online retail cannot offer consumers the level of experience they receive when they visit a store. It is practically impossible to create an atmosphere and offer a personal touch online in the same way that can be done when you walk into a shop.

Smart businesses are finding ways to combine online and offline retail in a way that better serves their customers. If you still haven’t read our article on Innovative Pop Ups, don’t forget to.

For example, when looking to purchase, many consumers will start by researching a product online. This is a prime opportunity for a business to grab a potential customer’s attention, offering content that educates and informs. Once that consumer has completed research, they may want to find specific information about the products on offer. By offering online messaging, which connects customers to a knowledgeable individual in a local store, brand trust can be built and consumers can be encouraged into the store to experience the products on offer first hand.

Many businesses will also offer consumers the opportunity to conduct research online and purchase a product that can then be picked up in-store. Not only does this allow for greater customer convenience, but also pulls customers further into the brand experience.


We have already discussed a little how consumers are demanding better experiences when engaging with physical retail stores. The customization of these experiences is a crucial way to keep the attention of your audience.

There are many ways that a brand can customize an experience for a consumer. One way which we may see this rolled out more commonly in 2021 is through the use of brand apps and store check-ins to provide store staff with crucial information on customers. For example, by ‘checking in’ to a store staff members can quickly identify loyal customers as VIPs, they can also identify buying habits and tastes, tailoring suggestions, and their shopping experience more accurately.

Other technologies such as Smart Mirrors use voice and image technology to increase convenience and customise the customer experience by making suggestions and digitally showing how certain products may work/look on the customer. As we have previously stated, In-Store Technology is the future of shopping.

Facilitating Community

In recent years community has become increasingly important to consumers. This is clear with the rising popularity of large and niche communities on social media surrounding a variety of subjects.

Many brands understand that building communities within their customer base is a great way to increase brand loyalty and ensure future success. Some newer brands such as GymShark attribute the majority of their success to the growth and loyalty of their communities.

Although GymShark maintains no permanent stores, the huge success of their regular community events and pop ups are a sign of how brands need to nurture their communities to ensure future success.


Whether it’s globally hosted protests such as those hosted by Extinction Rebellion, the popularity of media with green-messaging such as David Attenboroughs Planet Earth or the ambitious targets set out by many governments, there is no denying that sustainability plays an increasingly key part in all our lives.

It should come as no surprise that businesses that align closely with their customers’ values build stronger relationships and develop longevity. For this reason, we are likely to see more retail businesses focusing on creating a greener offering in 2021.

We are already seeing many leading brands offer sustainable product ranges to appeal to an eco-conscious audience such as H&M’s Conscious - Sustainable range.

Circular Economy

One way retail businesses can develop a more sustainable approach is by moving towards the development of a circular economy.

Typically humans and businesses approach life in a linear way where we take resources, make products, and produce waste. For example, you buy a phone and when a new one comes out, you simply throw the previous one away, creating waste.

The circular economy focuses on developing an approach that closely matches that of the natural world. In nature, all material is recycled, for example when an animal dies, its body fertilizes the soils, helping grow more food for another animal to eat. By producing products and services which can be broken down or fully recycled, all products can go on to produce more products, completely eradicating waste.

Second-Hand Market

Another way that many businesses are helping move towards sustainability and reduce waste is through the promotion of second-hand products. By connecting products that are no longer of use to one person to another, retail can maintain profitability without the need to produce any direct waste of their own.

This has and will continue to develop the refurbishment market, helping keep products usable for longer.

Consumer Controlled Retail

One final trend we are likely to see in retail in 2021 is the growth of consumer controlled retail. Where traditionally retail is driven by what the shops want to stock or what they believe customers want, by using data on consumer habits shops will begin to stock exactly what the consumer is looking for.

This trend is likely to drive a change in the focus of shops from offering a wide range of products to maintaining a smaller range with a greater stock of each item.

Retail Trends to Watch in 2021

The transformation of retail or many other industries will continue in 2021. Forward-thinking businesses will prepare themselves for all eventualities by adopting strategies that combine technologies from both the online and physical space.

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