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Welcome to 2022: Predictions for a New Year

Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome to 2022!

On today’s special episode, we’ll hear from retail thought leaders about their vision for the new year.

Today’s guests include Oliver Banks, Guy Courtin, Marie Driscoll, Michael LeBlanc, Tom Litchford, Christine Russo, Gautham Vadakkepatt,

We’ll also hear from innovative retail solution providers, such as Adam Gray with Tabs Analytics, which is a division of Blacksmith Applications.

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Hosted by Julia Raymond Hare
Produced by Gabriella Bock
Edited by Trenton Waller

Post Transcript

Julia Raymond Hare: Hello and Happy New Year. Welcome to 2022. I’m your host, Julia Raymond-Hare, and I’m super excited to welcome you back to the Retail Rundown Podcast. On today’s episode, you’ll hear from top retail influencers and leading solution providers on their vision for 2022. Kicking us off now is Michael LeBlanc. Michael LeBlanc: This is Michael LeBlanc, founder and president of Maven Media, keynote speaker and advisor, and producer and host of the Voice of Retail, Conversations Commerce Next, and the Remarkable Retail Podcast. I’m also proud to be a Rethink top 100 global retail influencer. Michael LeBlanc: 2022 is the year retail innovation comes out of hibernation. Think there’s been a lot of innovation during the COVID era? Think again, acceleration absolutely. We are about to enter a three year innovation cycle, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the go-go years of the late 90s. Retailers are beyond survival, beyond spending all their time chasing merchandise from distant lands or the port of LA or Vancouver. Well, okay, not quite beyond that one yet. And are now focusing on understanding how the pandemic experience changed customer habits and behaviors and leveraged all the amazing work that has been happening on Zoom, Teams, and kitchen tables over the past two years by innovative suppliers for both back and front of the house. Buckle up, because if you think retail has been fast paced before, the best is yet to come. Oliver Banks: I’m Oliver Banks, retail transformation coach and consultant, and the podcast host of the Retail Transformation Show. The retail trend that is top of mind for me going into 2022 is that of technology led convenience. Now there are obviously several strands to this. Firstly, the rise of checkout free stores is particularly interesting. We’ve got in-house technology development, technology licensing deals, and some really innovative light touch solutions all in the market. So it’s be important to decide if and how this fits into your strategy. Oliver Banks: Next, quick commerce or Q commerce. Again, fascinating, especially as we will see many more partnerships and acquisitions over the next year and it’s going to be important to work out how to balance profitability, different employment mechanisms, the flow of data and stock. And of course, the speed. And then finally, technology led convenience also bleeds up stream into the supply chain and fulfillment centers and we’ll see some exciting automation and robotic solutions growing in a bid to consistently operate at speed and at scale. Oliver Banks: A few considerations for you to think about with this trend. Firstly, what does convenience mean to you and to your customers? And is it only about speed? Next in our retail industry, we’ve often looked to our people, our colleagues on the front line to act as a differentiator, but how will increasing reliance on tech only touch points shift the balance in the market? And finally you’ve got to that are how quickly these initiatives will reset the bar or reset the norm. And how quickly are you going to need to change and transform to keep pace with the market? Some very exciting times ahead, and I wish you all the best for 2022. Adam Gray: Hey, this is Adam Gray with Tabs Analytics, which is a division of Blacksmith Applications. I work with CPG companies on data analysis and insights. So I’m excited to join Rethink Retail today to comment on three retail trends that will define success in the new year. First up is leveraging data and analytics to make better business decisions. Data analytics is showing up at the top of the 2022 wishlist for both retailers and manufacturers. Did you know that 56% of retail category managers think data analysis requirements are challenging due to data overload? This comes from Nielsen and I am not surprised because big data can be downright overwhelming. Tools that harmonize data and distill it into clear recommendations will be category manager’s best friends in 2022. Adam Gray: In short, the first retail success trend will be data driven decisions made by manufacturers in close collaboration with their retail partners. Now there comes a time in every relationship when one partner brings up three little words to the other. In the partnership between retailers and manufacturers, those words are return on investment. Are there any investments we make these days where we don’t consider the return? Not really. Time and resources are far too precious to go to waste in today’s environment, as you all know. A keen focus on ROI is the second retail success trend for 2022. So retailers, if you’re asking your manufacturer partners to increase investment in your channels, like your retail media network, review together the best use of dollars to optimize the return. Even though there are more channels to reach consumers, it’s likely that trade and media budgets have not increased. Have data driven conversations about how to deliver the best ROI for all parties. Adam Gray: The third retail success trend is sustainability. Consumers demand sustainable products. They’re no longer a nice to have. I heard from the founder of Zero Grocery that 74% of consumers are looking for a more sustainable version of the products they buy now. And once again, this is important for manufacturers and retailers alike. There are opportunities to be more sustainable across the entire supply chain. So work as partners to be creative and achieve those goals as it’s in everyone’s best interest. Based on my day to day experience with CPGs, those are my top predictions for you. In 2022, the retail success will hinge on data analytics, ROI, and sustainability. If you want to chat more or geek out with me on data and analytics, we reach out to me on LinkedIn. It’s Adam Gray, that’s Gray with an A from Tabs Analytics, a division of Blacksmith Applications. Gautham Vadakkepatt: Hello, my name is Gautham Vadakkepatt. I’m the director for the Center for Retail Transformation at George Mason University. For 2022, I’ll be watching three trends. First is the number of DTC brands, opening physical stores. The pandemic has highlighted the value of brick and mortar retail with 2021 seeing several DTC brands opening stores. Rising acquisition costs for digitally native brands, the desire for profitability, a need for greater customer intimacy, and increased brand recognition should drive more DTC brands to open stores in 2022 and also reimagine the role of the store in the consumer journey. Gautham Vadakkepatt: The second trend I’m going to track for 2022 is the state of SMB retail. Undoubtedly, 2021 has been an extremely difficult year for small and medium sized retail, but it has also showcased this group’s resilience, ingenuity, and adaptability. In 2022, I expect SMB retail to showcase these traits even further adopting technology and innovative business models at a much faster clip to react to changing environment. Finally, as supply chain will continue to ravage retail into 2022 and consumers increasingly expect retailers to engage in a responsible manner. I expect retailers to ramp up the sustainability efforts, be it by innovating themselves or by forming innovative alliances and partnerships with various entities. Guy Courtin: Hello everyone. My name is Guy Courtin and I’m the vice president and industry principle here at Tecsys, spelled T-E-C-S-Y-S. One of the things I look at and constantly think about are what are some of the big trends that as a retailer or a brand, I need to be aware of moving forward. And for 2022 and beyond one of those transit sustainability. Now you might ask yourself or you might say to yourself, wait a minute. Hasn’t this been around for a while? And yes it has, but I want to focus in on what I think is an exciting opportunity for retailers and brands, which is different segments of their supply chain, where they can gain or become much more sustainable and make sustainability truly a positive impact act on their business model. So when we think about things such as sourcing, right? Companies like McCain Foods just announced a partnership with Strong Roots to be, or to have more sustainable products at the source. Guy Courtin: You think about companies like Levi’s at the manufacturing side who are looking to extract or reduce the amount of water they use to make their jeans. When you think about aspects around labor, being more sustainable with your labor around the physical movement of goods and storage of goods in your supply chain, and finally the end of life of product, right? When we see products coming back, being returned, what can retailers and brands do there to make that more sustain? Guy Courtin: And we’re seeing that with companies like thredUP who are offering the opportunity for re-commerce-ing of some of the products, whether it’s from Adidas or some other brands that they work with. So we think about all these different nodes in the supply chain. What I think is an exciting trend for 2022 is that each one of these nodes offers an opportunity for retailers and brands to become more so sustainable and to have an active sustainability part of their business plan. So for me, in 2022, I really think that retailers and brands will start thinking much more specifically about sustainability. I think they will focus on what I’m calling the three Rs of sustainability, the returns, the recommerce, and the recycling. And where does that play along this supply chain and where can they make this themselves a sustainable part of their sustainability business plan? With that, I thank you. And look forward to your comments. Marie Driscoll: This is Marie Driscoll, managing director of luxury and retail at Core Site Research. We think 2022 will be a year that solidifies the importance of physical retail. We’ve already seen how vaccinated consumers are eager to have actual physical retail experiences in physical stores where you discover touch, try on, explore, and purchase. It’s a venue for brand expression, spanning product, ambiance, service, social, impacting all the senses. And it’s where brand engagement and loyalty develop and take route. Today’s store is more than a cathedral to the brand or a home of conversion. Marie Driscoll: In our omnichannel world, the store fulfills online orders and it saves retailers the costly last mile of delivery. In 2022, we expect to see continued penetration of the resale model. In 2022, we expect to see brands integrate their own resale with new products, both online and in selected stores. Coach is an early example of this with its pre-loved and upscale merchandise, both online and in its New York City flagship Coach house on 5th Avenue. Marie Driscoll: Live streaming will gain more traction in 2022. It was tested in 2021 and we’ll get more learnings next year. For luxury, we expect to see social commerce in a one-to-one setting, employing the luxury industry’s advantage of strong clientele in a digital environment. And finally, payments. Buy now pay later across physical as well as digital shopping is going to be big. Tom Litchford: Hi, everyone, Tom Litchford here with AWS, head of worldwide retail and wholesale distribution. There are a few key areas where I think we’ll see retailers focusing in 2022. The first is increased use of data and machine learning to better understand operational efficiencies, and more importantly, their customers. Behaviors have shifted dramatically over the past two years and retailers need to understand what their customers want and how they want to engage with the brand. We’re already seeing this increased focus on data with brands that are migrating their SAP environments to the cloud, so they can apply deep analytics and machine learning capabilities to not only drive greater efficiency across their business, but to also deliver premium consumer experiences wherever and whenever customers choose to engage their brand. Tom Litchford: The second area of focus will be the supply chain. The roots of the supply chain struggle run deep. As I’ve always said, the pandemic didn’t break the supply chain. It just exposed what was already broken. COVID-19 and the subsequent e-commerce expansion have exacerbated fulfillment issues. And with many retail supply chains or partner networks unable to support the operating model changes needed to scale pickup and delivery. Despite retailers facing these challenges, thankfully technology is also evolving rapidly in this sector. Cloud services, IOT devices, IML technology, big data analytics, and more have opened avenues for retailers to become and remain and agile. Tom Litchford: In the year ahead, we anticipate retailers leveraging these technologies to build intelligent supply chains. My third prediction is in the area of ethical commerce. As the pandemic continues to fuel a heightened awareness around the fragility of our environment and our global societies’ deep interconnectedness, retailers and brands need to consider the motivations behind their CSR strategies. It’s important to zero in on ethical commerce drivers that not only resonate with socially conscious consumers, but that can also deliver meaningful progress toward a better future. While major retailers have had corporate social responsibility on their leadership agenda, we’re finding that many don’t have an effective way to measure their efforts. Tom Litchford: I think this year we’ll see retailers implement the processes, skill sets, and technologies needed to tackle the important CSR campaigns. Action is needed, not just because CSR plans are good for engaging local and global communities and to be a good corporate citizen, but also because they’re the right thing to do from a future business sense and a talent perspective. With that, I hope you have a great 2022. Christine Russo: Hi, I’m Christine Russo. What retail trends are top of mind for 2022? Obviously the adoption of digitization, but not necessarily in that broad of a stroke. What learnings from digital experiences will be incorporated into the physical store? For example, online, it was easy to adopt by now pay later. Now we’re seeing it migrate over to brick and mortar. Online, it was easy to pay with Venmo. Now we’re seeing it migrate as a payment option over to brick and mortar. How will we see the adoption of these changes and how much adoption will we see across the industry? Julia Raymond Hare: From live streaming and social commerce to new forms of payments and the continued acceleration of tech driven experiences, this year will likely bring us new digital surprises. And who knows? Maybe by this time next year, we will have all made a purchase in the metaverse. Today’s guests also shown a light on the need for retailers to localize their supply chains, as well as the imperative for brands and retailers to make good with their sustainable ability efforts. For more 2022 predictions, stay tuned for our big report next month, that will feature key learnings from this year’s upcoming big show, as well as thought leadership from key retailers, academics, and tech players. You don’t want to miss it. And if you happen to be at the show this year, be sure to come say hi, and that’s NRF’s Big Show in New York. We’ll be back next week with our regular format as we explore what’s new in retail. Have a great week and welcome to 2022.