One of the biggest strengths of the retail industry is its malleability in the face of changing consumer attitudes. So, monitoring the industry for trends can help analyse, not just what the trajectory of the sector itself will see, but how it will relate to other industries. Identifying trends in retail can help businesses position themselves to attain more customers, retain those they have, and match the demand of the future. So, what retail trends could we expect heading into 2021?


Offline Ecommerce

One of the most interesting shifting trends we’ve experienced in retail in the past few years has been the surprising move away from online retailers. Despite online shopping’s popularity – 2020 saw sales of €222 billion – there is a definite return to offline shopping. It’s not that eCommerce is being replaced by physical and traditional shops, but typically online retailers are finding audiences after setting up a (temporary) physical presence. Pop-up shops have been a prime way of engaging with customers in this way.

Amazon, for instance, launched several physical locations from 2016 onwards, utilizing modern tech to automatically debit purchases. Cosmetics brand AiNSEL, founded in 2017, occupied a pop-up to spread their message of environmentally friendly make-up by communicating directly to physical customers. They were less able to do this online. Moreover, Goop, did the same, harnessing the power of celebrity, owner Gwyneth Paltrow provided a meet and greet, and offered customers recipes from the cookbooks she sold. In September and October 2020, erected a pop-up shop in Leeds as an opportunity to showcase its homeware range.

Alternative Payment Methods

eCommerce, the prevailing trend of retail, opens itself up to permitting many things that traditional retail can’t. One of those being the range of alternative payment methods. This trend is growing across a range of other industries, especially when it comes to e-wallets growing in prevalence. Online retailer platform Etsy lets its users choose the payment methods they accept, including Google Pay and Apple Pay. An ‘other’ option for payment means that individual users can allow payment in other methods, such as Skrill and Neteller e-wallets.

The success of different payment methods for eCommerce comes from the rise in a range of payment options across other online-based industries. For instance, ASOS utilize payment company Klarna to stagger payments, so that customers can pay in instalments, like a traditional catalogue model used to allow. The rise of this method of payment helps people make larger purchases online where people may have typically gone into physical locations e.g. car, furniture, white goods. Commanding 32.5% of the virtual fashion high street means that ASOS holds cache as a pioneer for eCommerce.

The trend of technological overhauls on otherwise traditional industries has been prevalent across several sectors. The online casino industry has also taken a traditional concept and updated it online, so it makes sense that they also offer a range of payment methods. As such, players can make deposits and withdrawals at Betway through PayPal, as well as traditional credit and debit cards. The use of alternative methods, such as PayPal, helps spread it further for ecommerce. Elsewhere, music streaming platform Spotify allows Paysafecard payments, representing those who might want to use a prepaid card as a payment method. The platform revolutionised how we engaged with music, so is a good role model for the eCommerce industry to revolutionise how we pay.

Re-Commerce Revival

Another predicted trend for 2021 is the revival of re-commerce – or purchasing second-hand items. This is sometimes dressed up as thrift shopping or looking for vintage items and has thrived with the popularity among young people for charity shops and eBay. Environmental concerns and the desire not to contribute to ‘fast fashion’, as well as the idea that product quality has dropped in recent years have led to the rise in re-commerce. As a result, 80% of UK shoppers consider themselves environmentally-friendly

Indeed, 67% of customers consider sustainable materials when making purchase decisions, and 63% feel a brand promoting itself as sustainable is attractive. So sustainability is driving this trend, not price. This helps inform other industries, especially as the trend for hard-wearing goods that don’t harm the planet, are frequently being chosen over cheap ones. In the next five years, the second-hand market is expected to be worth $64 billion.

Monitoring retail trends help companies remain competitive and allow them to continue to appeal to customers. This could be an alternative and growing range of payment methods, that offer more choice and are reflective of changing banking trends. It could be sustainable goods bought through second-hand and clothes re-commerce. Or it could be utilizing the benefits of being both online and offline.