The newest digital trends in the retail industry

2022 digital trends — retail in focus

Insights into the importance of digital agility, technology, and personalization amid disruption

It’s that time of the year again when Adobe releases its annual Digital Trends report to highlight emerging trends in the digital space. Every year, we partner with Econsultancy to survey marketers from a broad cross-section of industries — and this year’s sample included 507 retailers. We use the results to analyze recent developments and look toward the future. In this post, we’ll focus specifically on the findings and trends that are directly relevant to the retail industry.

The findings from this year’s report demonstrate how meeting evolving customer needs and personalization at scale are more important than ever. The report also confronts volatility in the industry, shows how retailers are dealing with disruption, and illustrates the value of agile IT and your underlying tech investments.

“53% of retailers expect demands on their organizations’ digital experience to accelerate beyond what has already happened over the past two years.”

Retail gets even more personal

Personalization in retail has been around for a long time. Still, it persists in being one of the most prevalent marketing buzzwords this year. While not a new concept, the time has come for retailers to close the personalization gap between customers’ expectations and the retailer's ability to deliver. At the same time, customer loyalty is under strain and up for grabs. Here are some things to consider as we move farther into 2022:

“The only way that we're going to keep people coming back is if we deliver customer experiences that delight the customer and that are differentiated from the experiences they can get elsewhere. If you're trying to win on price alone, you're going to lose — there's only one Amazon that’s going to deliver the lowest priced goods.”

— Avery Worthing-Jones, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Gap Inc.

Disruption has become routine

Retailers must continually navigate uncertainty and issues beyond their control. But what’s most important is how your business responds to the unknown.

Integrating platforms and unifying data will yield big dividends

Your ability to adapt to circumstances and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves will be determined, in part, by the technology you have at your foundation. Make sure that IT decision-makers are part of strategic conversations — and that they understand the subtleties of the retail business.

“There is only one north star: the shopper. Our ability to understand her is paramount, and it follows that understanding her behavior across various touchpoints, not in the least in our stores, is a necessity.”

— VP of marketing at one European-based retailer

Map your own path to success

Success is a moving target, especially in retail. And “keeping up” is not enough. Retailers must be on the lookout for the next trend and innovation. That doesn’t mean chasing each new fad. Rather, you want to be open to new behaviors — and be ready to adapt.

“We’ve been at it for a decade, and we are still learning. And it’s so competitive — we have to continuously invest in upgrading our tools, analytics, and so on. All I know is that I can’t take my foot off the gas.”

— VP of digital for a US-based-general merchandise retailer

The digital experience you design needs to reflect the understanding that customers don’t think in terms of separate channels or stages like mobile versus in store. Everything is interconnected, and personalizing the customer journey has never been more important. You need to consider the customer holistically and adapt your processes to fit their individual needs instead of trying to mold their needs to fit your processes. Remember that your employees are a valuable asset and you can use mobile technology and automation to support their efforts. And finally, embrace intelligent technology — AI and ML — to refine insight gathering and streamline workflows to help you deliver the best possible customer experience in 2022 and beyond.

For more insights, read the full report, 2022 Digital Trends — Retail in Focus.