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Sustainability and technology were the hot topics at the 2022 National Retail Federation's Big Show in mid-January. While supply chain issues continue to plague retailers in all industries, there was a note of optimism in the air that with changing times comes changing methods to reach customers and create memorable interactions.

Highlights and Trends
  • Sustainability continues to be top of mind for the retail industry. It is not enough for retailers to use recycled materials for packaging. Retailers must analyze their processes from sourcing and production to supply chain and the consumer. Companies must have strong sustainable development goals to remain competitive in today's market. Customers care about sustainability and shop with their values in mind.
  • Digital IDs are a way for consumers to see the sustainability measure a company has taken (or not). Customers are demanding to know where products are made, what materials are being used and that the supply chain has fair and safe practices. There are companies helping retailers create this transparency to consumers. For example, a digital ID can be a QR code tag in a piece of clothing. A consumer can scan the tag to see the sourcing information for the item along with other information like fabric details and the life cycle of the garment. This digitization can be an accelerant to sustainability practices.
  • Circularity is extending the life of a product after the consumer is done with it. Resale is a growing area of the retail market. Retailers can measure where their products go next by offering resale sites within their own websites. Not only does this option prolong the life of the product, but it also keeps people on your website buying your brand again and again. Sellers can even be incentivized to sell on the retailer's site. It was noted that retailers who are offering a resale service benefit even more by being able to track their products and customer behaviors after the original sale.
  • Technology-focused practices can optimize growth and keep a competitive advantage for the retail industry with the use of QR codes, apps, virtual stores, and vendor intersections. Customers are also looking for a personal approach to their shopping experience. A personal touch goes a long way for customer retention. Retailers can stay ahead of the curve by tapping into consumers' preferences. Customer trends are safety and the convenience of being able to shop day or night but with the same experience of walking into a store.
  • The 15-minute city is the new mall. This trend is where all the average consumer's needs can be found in a 15-minute travel radius. Since March 2020, work-from-home scenarios have disrupted retailers in ways they did not expect. A study by WD Partners showed that of 2,700 consumers asked, 0 said they planned to return to the workplace 5 days a week in the foreseeable future (1). This means that retailers housed in business parks or office buildings must pivot.
  • Instant delivery means getting a product to a consumer in under 2 hours. Prior to Covid-19, this service existed, but it has become increasingly popular in the last 18 months. This trend is about wants, not needs. Retailers who want to take advantage of higher repeat purchase rates and consumer timeline values, need to consider business-to-business solutions like third-party shoppers.
  • The metaverse is around the corner. Gen Z and their younger siblings in Gen Alpha are picking up on the trend of virtual reality experiences. The expectation is that Millennials will adapt to the metaverse in the coming years as well. Retailers can capitalize on this by placing their products or advertising in virtual shops and malls. With headsets strapped on, consumers can peruse an interface, buy products using virtual tokens and have them delivered to their doors.

How DHG Can Help

DHG offers you a set of comprehensive services to meet your needs. Our experienced retail team collaborates with other industry and service line professionals to maximize the resources available to you and help identify solutions.

DHG's Sustainability and Climate Risk solutions cover a broad range of activities on client agendas, including embedding climate risk into existing risk frameworks, scenario modeling, data sourcing, disclosures, reporting and overall implementation planning.
DHG's Manufacturing, Distribution & Retail industry practice offers solutions to assist client's in being hyper-aware of their supply chain transparency. That equates to helping them understand and have more data, specifically around business partners, suppliers, and customers, and how to use that intelligence to help their transparency focus on core processes including a focus on talent.
DHG's CFO & Business Advisory solutions offer CFO teams a way to help unlock incremental value through organizational change, process re-design efficiencies, analytics and automation. DHG stands ready to help your company solve its most complex business problems and create technology-enabled strategies that power your transformation and align with your company's changing strategies and vision.

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