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Lightspeed’s Report on the State of Retail, and what it means for your business

Lightspeed’s Report on the State of Retail, and what it means for your business

After two years of change, disruption and acceleration, the retail industry is moving into a new era. Independent retailers are facing evolving health regulations, supply-chain woes, advances in technology, and a rapidly changing workforce. Are business owners ready to tackle what comes next? 

Lightspeed has always been interested in better understanding the retail industry. To understand this tumultuous time, we surveyed over 2,200 global retail owners, managers, operators and customers to see how they’re responding and reacting to a shifting retail landscape.

The first snippet of crucial intel: The importance of omnichannel. As our CEO JP Chauvet says, omnichannel “is do or die.” 

Merchants offering retail both online and in-store celebrated the largest year-over-year revenue growth of all the global retailers we surveyed. While in-store shopping continues to rebound, ecommerce has also stepped further into the spotlight, accelerating the need for omnichannel solutions for businesses, no matter their size.

Shoppers have also doubled-down on the retailers they know and love, underscoring the value of loyalty programs to strengthen customer relationships. And technology has become more important than ever when it comes to creating amazing customer experiences and outpacing competitors. 

But with all this change, one thing remains absolutely clear: wherever challenges exist, opportunities aren’t far behind.

Get the full story

Download our full retail indsutry report and dive into the data

Retail sales growth is on the rise, with omnichannel leading the pack

In the United States and Canada nearly half of all retailers surveyed reported revenue being higher in 2021 than in 2020, with 12% in the US and 6% in Canada saying their sales were significantly higher. Let’s break that down even further:

  • Omnichannel merchants outperformed overall: When it comes to year-over-year growth in omnichannel sales (merchants with an online and brick and mortar presence), 58% of omni retailers in the UK, 61% in the US, and 56% in Canada reported higher year-over-year sales growth with a whopping 21% of omnichannel merchants in the US reporting “significantly higher” revenue —far more than the overall average. 
  • In the UK, this growth is happening online and in-store: 50% of omnichannel merchants and 29% of Brick & Mortar merchants saw higher year-over year sales growth. 
  • eCommerce revenue surged for nearly half of online-only retailers in the US (47%) and the Netherlands (45%) 
  • Brick & Mortar also thrived in North America: Canadian (42%) and US (41%) stores both saw growth in-store as well as online. 

Despite retailers’ heavy investment in ecommerce throughout 2021, it appears customers still appreciate in-store shopping for retail purchases, and a combined approach that’s most convenient for customers, valuing in-store and ecommerce sales, pays off more than one method alone. 

An average of 39% of global consumer survey respondents reported they’ll shop mostly in-store over the next 6 months, compared to just 23% for ecommerce. This indicates recovery on target to return to pre-pandemic levels (50% of customers shopped in-store in 2019).

However, while consumers may be planning to shop more in-store, they’re planning to shop less overall. About 30% of global consumer survey respondents said they plan to shop less in 2022 versus only 10% who plan to shop more.

Expert Tip: investing in additional hardware to reduce wait times, focusing on omnichannel inventory management to keep shelves stocked, and even incorporating scheduled appointments can all work to improve the in-store experience and improve sales during slow-downs.

The rising cost of doing business

As many small business owners know, supply chain struggles and labour shortages have plagued the retail industry for nearly two years. Now into 2022, labour shortages continue to rank as the greatest challenge facing the retail industry globally, with 20% of global survey respondents reporting hiring and staff retention as their biggest challenge. Additionally, 32% of survey respondents even reported operating their business with less staff than they required in response to their retention challenges. 

  • 20% of merchant survey respondents reported hiring and staff retention as their biggest challenge
  • 32% of survey respondents reported operating their business with less staff than they required in response to their retention challenges.

Retail business owners looking to grow can get a leg up by offering competitive salaries and focusing on employee engagement to retain staff and offer an improved customer experience. Simply put, treating your employees well will encourage them to stay on.

Expert Tip: other tools like additional point-of-sale terminals in-store, scheduled pickup and improved inventory management systems can also make life easier for employees and offer additional value to customers, both online and in-person.

Retail technology powered sales performance throughout the pandemic

68% of global merchants in Lightspeed’s survey said technology adoption had a positive impact on their business over the last 2 years. 

When asked what tactics had the greatest impact, three stood out from the pack: ecommerce, inventory management technology, and loyalty programs had the greatest positive impact on retail businesses. If you’re considering up-leveling your technology stack in 2022, any of these upgrades are a great place to start.  

  • More than half of merchant survey respondents plan on investing in additional technology to help them sell online. 
  • 64% of retailers planning to invest said they plan to invest in additional inventory and supply processes for their eCommerce stores
  • Buy Now Pay Later technology has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on merchants’ businesses:
    • 68% say it provides a competitive edge 
    • 64% say it helped them sell more 

Expert Tip: for continued investment in ecommerce to pay off, retailers need to be able to maintain optimal stock levels, even in the face of delays and rising supply costs (both product and shipping), which is why so many retailers are placing a priority on better inventory controls.

Shoppers are more invested in shopping locally—but also more impatient

An impressive 64% of UK merchants surveyed believe shoppers are more interested in shopping locally than they had been pre-pandemic, with the majority saying that shoppers were even spending more at their stores, both online and in-person. 

Are shoppers more interested in shopping local/independent?

Global 62%
United Kingdom 64%
United States 65%

This aligned with the 63% of global consumer survey respondents who felt supporting local, independent business was either important or very important, with 37% planning to shop local more often in 2022.

But what does “shop local” really mean to consumers? Nearly half of consumers in the US (51%) and the UK (48%) considered shopping local to be shopping mainly from independent businesses, but not necessarily shopping with businesses in their geographic areas. Other countries define shopping locally slightly differently, with more of an emphasis on physical proximity. Let’s dive into the numbers by region:

  • In the United Kingdom, shopping from independent businesses (48%) is nearly twice as important as shopping with a business located in their city (26%).
  • Consumers in the United States primarily value shopping from independent businesses (51%), and value shopping with a business based in their city (39%) over their wider region (26%).
  • In Canada, consumers rank shopping with independent businesses (38%), businesses in their region (37%) and businesses in their city (36%) roughly equal. Also, more Canadians value shopping with a business in their country (21%) than any other region.
  • Consumers in France see shopping with a business in their region as most important (40%), with businesses in their city a second priority (35%). 
  • For consumers from the Netherlands, businesses in their region come first (34%), then in their city (32%). The local business being independent ranks as a third priority at 27%.
  • German consumers value businesses being in their region higher than anyone else (55%), finding it more than double the importance of a business being independent (24%).

This presents an interesting opportunity for independent businesses looking to expand their reach through ecommerce. 

Unfortunately, not every change in shopper behaviour has been for the better. An alarming majority of merchant survey respondents (60%) also affirmed that shoppers have become less patient since 2020. 

Expert Tip: to capitalise on the local shopping momentum for your business, use your regions’ definition to your advantage by tailoring marketing and ad spend to your most valuable audiences. With business owners and operators facing down a labour shortage, and rude customers being a key component of service worker burnout, retailers will need to be sure they’re prioritising employee satisfaction and supporting their employees if they want to take advantage of increased spending.

We’re here to help, in 2022 and beyond

Powering the businesses that are the backbone of the global economy, Lightspeed’s one-stop commerce platform helps merchants innovate to simplify, scale and provide exceptional customer experiences. The cloud solution transforms and unifies online and physical operations, multichannel sales, expansion to new locations, global payments, financing and connection to supplier networks.

Whether you’re looking for a solution that will allow you to take on new brick and mortar locations, expand into ecommerce, up your inventory management, or more, Lightspeed is here to help you tackle the challenges that the current state of retail have given us, and work through anything that comes our way in the future. 

If you’d like to speak, read our full state of the retail report, you can find it here. And if you’d like to talk to an expert about how Lightspeed can help work for your business, click here

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