The retail industry has changed a lot over the past couple of years, largely driven by Covid-19 and the restrictions brought in at various stages of the pandemic. In addition to the biggest public health crisis of our generation, a range of other factors and knock-on effects of the pandemic have transformed the way people shop for, assess and essentially think of products.
Retailers need to respond to these changes to navigate a testing future and, in this article, we look at some challenges/trends that are already shaping 2022.
The retail industry has been in a constant state of disruption since the emergence of online shopping, but the Covid-19 pandemic sparked unprecedented levels of change, sometimes with overnight implications as new lockdown measures were announced.
While the world tries to push its way out of the pandemic, retailers will be dealing with the challenge it poses throughout 2022 and for the years to come:
- Increased online spending: All the data shows Covid-19 caused a dramatic shift towards online spending, with 10 years’ worth of digital adoption in the first 90 days of the pandemic – and online spending levels still remain high.
- Population & demographic shifts: In the UK for example, an ageing population faces increased change as a result of the pandemic and exacerbated by Brexit.
- Changes in consumer expectations and behaviour: The pandemic dramatically changed consumers’ short-term expectations, but demands for services like home delivery remain higher than pre-pandemic levels while studies show the pandemic has also enhanced existing concerns about ethical consumerism.
- Ethical consumerism: This trend has only grown stronger during the pandemic, but it is also driven by global environmental concerns and social issues – the BLM movement being one of the most obvious examples.
- Supply chain challenges: The pandemic, Brexit (in the UK), trade disputes, environmental factors, unexpected global conflicts and a range of other issues have also created some of the most serious supply chain disruptions in modern times – ranging from food products to semiconductor chips.
- Staffing issues: On-going Covid-19 infections, economic strain, business closures and the beginning of a Great Resignation movement, which started in 2021, have caused staffing shortages across almost every industry.
- Rising living costs: An amalgamation of different factors is driving a cost of living crisis that will also inevitably affect consumer’s spending behaviour and attitude towards products.
After an unpredictable couple of years, many of these trends are either unforeseen or exaggerated by a number of crises. Therefore, the biggest concern for many retailers globally is adapting to all of the challenges listed above at the same time.
As we’re gradually entering a post-Covid era, with more people shopping online, the rise of a buy-now-pay-later consuming culture and shifts in consumers’ demands, retail brands need to adapt and continuously monitor as well as revise their online strategies on a constant basis. Multilingual companies will have to reassess their retail translation strategy in 2022 to check they’re targeting the right audiences in the post-pandemic world and rethink their messaging to remain relevant to their needs and also with what’s going on in the world.
In uncertain times, clear communication, regular updates and strategy revision are more important than ever. Over the past couple of years, companies came to learn the importance of not only updating existing and potential customers about disruptions to services at short notice, but also how to communicate and regularly confirm when services are not disrupted. The latter is crucial for boosting, maintaining and ensuring confidence in purchasing decisions.
The good news is, that after two years of unprecedented disruption, the constant reassessment and adjustment of businesses strategies (both short-term and long-term) should have now become a familiar process to most retailers and online shopping companies.
The retail world is different now and multilingual companies, in particular, need to confirm who their target audiences are and which language markets to prioritise, and then adapt their translation strategy according to these.
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