4 Hot Retail Topics at RICE 2022
After attending the Chicago Retail Innovation Conference & Expo 2022, we recap the biggest trends in retail discussed by top brands and retailers.
There are numerous new business practices being implemented in physical stores post-covid. From introducing live commerce to reducing your carbon footprint, let’s explore every hot topic at the retail innovation conference 2022.
1. Live streaming builds consumer community
One of the most heavily discussed topics was how retail live streaming can be utilized to build community commerce. Community-based commerce is described as bringing people with a shared passion or interest together with content that leads to purchase discovery.
This idea has led to many companies instituting live stream retail practices. There is new use of store associates for content creation on livestreaming platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. It is typically a well-received strategy with both parties because it increases brand awareness while also making associates micro-celebrity social media influencers.
2. The metaverse is the next version of the internet
There were numerous retail technology trends mentioned at RICE 2022, but all come second fiddle to VR and the metaverse. Many are comparing this new digital ecosystem to the first iteration of the internet. The metaverse is an inevitable evolution of the internet. Every business will find a place and (as we have learned from the past) nobody wants to be a late adopter.
With retail experience being more important than ever, virtual worlds create incredible brand opportunities. Organizations are using virtual reality stores to test their brand experiences or engage online audiences in merchandise exploration. It creates new revenue streams including virtual to virtual (V2V), physical to virtual (P2V) and virtual to physical (V2P).
We are already seeing this shift through recent sales of brand non-fungible tokens or NFTs. Brands like Playboy and Coach expressed their success with selling NFTs. Both companies utilized their mascots. with Playboy using their iconic bunny and calling them “Rabbitars”. Coach also boasted how their 8 character NFTs (including mascot Rexy) sold out in 2 seconds.
The role of metaverse retail in the coming years will include building virtual places, devices and platforms. Overall, there was a very clear message that investment in your retail metaverse business plan now will ensure incredible market opportunities are not missed.
Woman shopping in ReadySet virtual reality Walmart store for market research
3. Brand sustainability increases customer loyalty
Customer behavior and values towards sustainable living are accelerating. They view brands as helping them live more sustainably, forming a strong relationship between brand sustainability and customer loyalty.
Consumers also believe that brands bear as much responsibility for positive change as governments. This pursuit of purpose has established a perception in the consumer’s eye that sustainable brands are front runners.
According to one World Economic Forum survey, 66% of all respondents and 75% of millennial respondents said they consider sustainability when making a purchase. These new shopping habits include greater consideration of eco-friendly products that are made with sustainable materials.
4. Entertainment based retail experiences are the future
If you attended the RICE a few years ago, then you may have heard digital is replacing retailers because “brick and mortar is dead”. At the retail innovation conference 2022, this outlook has changed to digital helps retailers because “boring brick and mortar is dead”.
This idea of retail entertainment was an ever present concept by many brands. Coach used the term “arttainment” to describe their use of an inflatable art installation in public spaces as a way to encourage brand engagement. Lalo, a modern baby retailer, also discussed experimentation with providing “retailtainment”, which was described as a customer’s sense of joy from their store experience.
The new omnichannel journey is an elevated shopping experience that involves many different consumer paths that are difficult to track. For example, a shopper may like a sweater in-store that does not come in their size and order it online. A retailer has no idea that this purchase was influenced by their store.
‘Coach Pillow’ inflatable art installation in Soho Square, London UK
With entertainment retail stores, metrics such as sales per square foot no longer apply. The retail design trends in 2022 include planning inspiration per square foot and incentivizing customers to scan QR codes to better understand your buyer journeys.