Source: CSA Chain Store Age

1. BNPL options will rise in-store.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) was a hot trend in 2021 and will continue to be a top retail priority in 2022. Where we’ll see the most activity with BNPL in 2022 is retailers extending that payment option to their stores. During the past year, retailers saw the benefit of offering BNPL on their e-commerce sites – now they want to capitalize on those benefits in the physical retail setting.
While there’s a strong desire of retailers to go fast with payment innovation, the reality is that overhauling payments across entire store footprints is time-consuming and complex. It’s much easier to go fast with new payment options online. Hardware shortages will add to the delays in getting BNPL widely adopted across brick-and-mortar stores. So while the demand and business case for BNPL are there, don’t expect this payment option to be ubiquitous in stores in 2022.”

2. Store associates will get a digital upgrade to contribute to the CX.

With all the investments that retailers made in online engagement during the pandemic, as store traffic rebounds, we’re seeing a lot of retailers begin to evaluate how they can offer a similar level of digital engagement in their stores. As consumer smartphone adoption skyrockets – there are approximately 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2021 – there’s a real temptation for retailers to bypass store associate involvement and focus on how they can engage directly with in-store shoppers via those shoppers’ personal mobile device.
While that should be an element of the digital-enabled store experience, retailers should not leave associates out of the equation. There’s still a significant percentage of shoppers who visit stores to engage with associates. In 2022, savvy retailers will look to elevate the role of associates in the overall store experience and leverage mobile technologies to support this.

3. Unified commerce experiences will replace siloed in-store experiential retail.

Prior to the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on creating experiential store concepts, almost as a way of trying to compete with the online channel. Fast-forward to 2022 and we’ll see retailers pursue holistic store experiences that are focused on helping shoppers transition between physical and digital interactions with their brand.
One good example of this is a virtual closet, which would allow consumers to create a digitized representation of all the products they own from that retailer. And then, the virtual closet would be accessible to that retailer’s store associates so when the shopper is in the store, associates could recommend several items that would complement previously purchased items.

4. IT systems will see major upgrades.

A lot of retailers are going to make a lot of money during the holidays. Retailers’ financial recovery, combined with the fact that omnichannel shopping behaviors pushed legacy IT systems close to the breaking point during the pandemic, is going to drive investments in foundational modern technology systems in 2022.
Retailers are at the point where they know they can’t fake it anymore. They have to get the basics right – and this includes real-time inventory visibility. If retailers can’t provide real-time inventory visibility, they’ve already lost. There’s no way retailers can keep up with the speed of consumers without it.”

5. Continued fulfillment innovation will further optimize retail operations.

After coping with the pandemic-driven supply disruptions and consumer demand shifts to online and omnichannel fulfillment, retailers are looking at 2022 as the year to revisit their inventory strategies across the supply chain, but especially as it relates to getting inventory into the hands of customers.
In 2022, retailers are looking at experimenting more heavily with dark stores, gray stores and dropship, as well as more dynamic use of fulfillment rules, for example, replenishing stores from the eCommerce DC if inventory is moving faster in stores than online, or holding back a replenishment order for stores to send to the eCom DC instead if the opposite is happening. Next year, retailers appear poised to open up their supply chains for new fulfillment options more than they ever have before.