Edge by Ascential, whose technology-driven products power brands to win in digital commerce, released its annual Future Retail Disruption Report for 2021-2022. The data shows that shoppers will continue to buy online post-pandemic, and to a greater extent than pre-COVID -- predicting that online sales will account for almost 40% of all chain retail sales by 2026.
The latest report shows the lasting impact of the COVID-19 crisis on retail, as well as the biggest drivers of consumer behavior going into the new year, and how retailers and brands can plan and innovate for this new operational paradigm shift.
“Retailers rushed to invest in at-home delivery capability, in-store pickup and store curbside pick-up back in March 2020 and as the crisis progressed and became a long-term situation, the last mile became a key battleground offering opportunities for differentiation and to lock in shopper loyalty,” said Deren Baker, CEO of Edge by Ascential.
“Eighteen months later, two-thirds of retailers (60%) offer two-hour delivery (or faster) and almost 30% of the retailers we cover at Edge Retail Insight commit to deliver in 30 minutes. These developments, along with online subscriptions, discounting measures and curated assortments, are helping to keep ecommerce penetration above pre-pandemic levels,” Baker added.
In the US, e-commerce is anticipated to grow by 24% this year, 32% in the UK, 26% in Germany and 28% in Brazil.
The latest report highlights some of the new and updated drivers of change:
With consumer confidence and household budgets tight after the pandemic, price and availability remain at the forefront of purchase decisions, but shoppers are increasingly looking for product qualities that align with values.
Omnichannel fulfilment diversity
The past year has rapidly increased table stakes for last-mile fulfilment through both owned and partnered pickup and delivery. Same-day options are now the norm across advanced e-commerce markets, with rapid delivery players offering delivery in 30 minutes or less in many cities.
The rise of retailer media platforms
As traditional retailers look to offset the cost of last-mile fulfilment, many of the bigger names are morphing into sophisticated advertising players through ad-tech partnerships or developing their own capabilities. Edge by Ascential’s sister brand, WARC, forecasts that retailer media will grow three times faster than the all-media rate in 2021.
Declining store real estate
The dramatic shift online will accelerate physical store closures. Across channels, compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will either remain static or shrink over the next five years.
“Every year, our Retail Insight analysts review what we see as the biggest drivers of change that could disrupt business in the retail industry,” said Xian Wang, VP, Edge Retail Insight. “In 2022, those who can master platforms and the new environment will put themselves in the best situation and will be ahead of the game.”