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Retail in 2021 and how to succeed by Catherine Erdly

Three key business areas you should be focusing on to make the most of this year.

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Many of us will be excited to put 2020 behind us. The impact of the pandemic on retail footfall numbers, and the revenue taken in physical spaces such as bridal boutiques has been dramatic. Unable to operate normally for much of the year, this has been a year that has pushed retailers (and brides) to their limits.

After such a bruising year, retailers will be looking at 2021 as a time to rebuild and here’s what will be moulding retail in the year to come.

1. The shift online

One of the key shifts that we saw re-shaping the retail industry in 2020 was the move to online shopping.
So what does that mean for bridal boutiques in 2021? One thing that is clear, is that having a digital presence that complements your physical space is an essential part of a strong retail strategy.

The retailers who were most effective in 2020 were those who turned to their online presence. Several were able to maintain or even grow their revenue by focusing on talking to their audience online, offering online appointments showcasing products, and making it clear how they could be purchased despite being closed.

The ideal situation for retailers in 2021 will be to welcome back visitors (once shops can be reopened), but to maintain a strong digital presence that enhances the physical space as opposed to competing with it.

In 2021, technology will continue to enable this behaviour, for example, helping a shopper who wants to research and search online for their perfect dress and then purchase in store when they reopen.

Technology will help create a seamless transition between online research and offline purchasing. But retailers should consider how they already entice customers to come to their store. Do people know what to expect when they visit your shop? In what ways can you share your product range so that they know that their visit will be a success especially if they are going to purchase possibly the most important dress of all?

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2. The best sales strategy is great product

As we head into another turbulent year, with fears over the economic impact of the pandemic, customer confidence is low which means that people are considered with their spending.

What does that mean for retailers? Well, it is not to say that customers will not spend. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that customers continued to spend during 2020.

However, what it does mean, is that customers will be holding on to their money more tightly than ever, and the job of retailers will be to entice them to spend.

This means getting the right kind of product - the product that speaks to the customer, meets them where they are, and solves their problems.

It’s worth taking the time to ask yourself what it is that your brides really want in 2021 as well as investing in those must-have styles that will entice them in and light up your social media.

3. Physical retail fights back

Despite the huge growth in online retail, customers will want to get back to visiting physical bridal boutiques as “lockdown fatigue” kicks in and they prepare for the big day.

There is a real opportunity for physical retail to be a breath of fresh air - an escape, somewhere people can reconnect and refresh themselves.

It’s important to recognise that the health of a physical retail space in 2021 will go beyond the ability to be a purely transactional space, but to re-introduce the idea of delighting your brides.

It is likely that safety measures on the shop floor are going to continue well into 2021, however the clear winners will be those spaces that are able to both incorporate a strict adherence to safety guidelines but create a welcoming environment.

2021 will continue to be a year of major change for the retail industry and the best strategy for all retailers is to focus on their digital offering, offer customers exactly what they want, and be ready to delight them once doors open.

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