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Photo Credit: Lululemon

US Retail Watch in 2022: Target, Uniqlo, Foxtrot, and Lululemon Raise the Bar on Customer Experience

The surge in online shopping that took place during the pandemic has fueled pent-up demand for convenient and experiential in-store shopping as the pandemic wanes. While the industry expected ecommerce’s share of total U.S. retail sales to continue to rise post-pandemic, it has stagnated in 2022, averaging 14.5% through June 2022 compared to 14.6% in 2021. Retailers that won customers by providing excellent digital capabilities during the pandemic are working to retain those new customers, bringing them into their stores with engaging and efficient shopping journeys. Read on for a review of current omnichannel retail trends driven by consumer preferences in U.S.


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Customers Expect Pandemic-influenced Store Technologies to Stay

Important convenience capabilities include buy online pickup in store, curbside pickup, self-checkout (like Uniqlo’s new scan-less RFID self-checkout tech above), contactless/just-walk-out checkout, seamlessly integrated loyalty programs, and more. Retailers like Walmart and Target prioritized the implementation of these omnichannel experiences out of necessity during the pandemic and continue to attract customers with these capabilities now.

Adding Friction to Level Up the In-Store Experience

Retailers are also getting creative with their in-store experiences, working to connect with their consumers by telling their brand stories in a truly differentiated way. Canadian retailer Lululemon operates around 50% of their store footprint in the U.S. market. The leader in athletic and athleisure apparel has implemented a variety of engaging experiences in their Chicago flagship store, offering a Fuel Space café, a meditation room, two workout studios (HIIT and yoga), and a lounge and workspace. Through these integrations, the company invites its community to linger in its physical space in a holistic branded lifestyle and wellness experience that is especially attractive to health-conscious consumers post-pandemic.

Photo Credit: Lululemon

Consumers Favor Curated and Inclusive Assortments Over High-Speed Delivery of Select Essentials

Consumers have begun to prioritize edited assortments that enable one stop shopping over extreme speed in the case of rapid delivery. Providers that are equipped with a broader variety of goods that may take a bit longer to deliver are beating out those that offer a smaller assortment and faster delivery. High-speed delivery providers like GoPuff and Getir have cut thousands of employees this year, consolidating their workforce, and subsequently, their delivery reach – offering a cautionary tale. Meanwhile other convenience providers like Foxtrot, a Chicago-based elevated omnichannel store, is thriving.

Photo Credit: Foxtrot

Foxtrot provides a truly connected experience, targeting a very specific consumer group: young, working professionals looking for high quality goods to be delivered to their homes or available at convenient store locations.  Foxtrot’s assortment is expertly curated to their socially-connected target consumer as it includes viral products and brands made popular on TikTok.  The assortment is also broad enough to cover categories including wine and spirits, prepared foods, indulgent desserts, and even personal care and trend-leading household essentials. The company received its latest round of funding in January of this year, raising $100 million to fund further expansion and technology advancements to make the experience even more appealing to customers and broaden its reach.

Adapt the Shopper Journey or Risk Being Left Behind

The post-pandemic race to draw newly acquired online shoppers and existing customers back into physical stores has already begun, and only the smartest brands and retailers will win. While consumers are returning to physical stores, they have come to expect a seamless and differentiated leveled-up experience inside the store. Retailers are being forced to adapt to a new reality, reconfiguring the shopper journey and taking a truly omnichannel approach to attract and maintain a strong and loyal customer base.

Ava Buechel

Ava provides market and consumer research, planning, and analysis support for McMillanDoolittle retail consulting projects. Her experience in marketing, digital transformation, brand strategy, and retail innovation brings an updated perspective in the fast-paced business climate of today.

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