The retail marketplace faces a flock of new challenges in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic throughout 2020 forced retailers to make many adjustments to the way they do business. Consumer expectations also changed. Now, retailers must continue to adjust to change if they wish to remain competitive and successful.

Some of the following retail industry trends will become mainstays. Others may disappear as consumer needs and behaviors change once again.

How many of these retail industry trends have you already adopted? And which ones must you adopt in order to improve your ROI and grow your customer base?

1. Leveraging Social Media to Improve Brand Recognition

Now, more than ever, social media plays a hugely significant role in brand recognition and customer retention. Savvy brands were already heavily using social media platforms well before the pandemic. But now, with so many consumers shifting to online purchases or simply perusing social media more often, all brands need to up their social media game to stay relevant.

The main advantage of social media is the ability to directly target specific customer demographics. Social platforms also allow you to engage with your audience, which serves to deliver a positive consumer experience. This positive experience is a necessary step in reinforcing the consumer’s purchase decision.

2. Focusing on the Customer Experience

Consumers today expect a lot more from the brands with whom they choose to do business. They want more than just competitive prices. They want a positive experience through every step of the customer journey. Brands that shift their marketing strategy to be more customer-centric will improve sales and grow their customer base.

In fact, many companies are already competing purely on customer experience. That’s because recent studies have shown that customer-centric companies drive higher revenues, perform better than their competitors, and are ultimately more profitable. Additionally, customers are more likely to spend extra for products or services from a company that provides a positive, memorable experience.

3. Pandemic Behaviors That Will Stay

Retailers started curbside pickup and offered more delivery options. This helped them cater to the large portion of the consumer market that wanted to avoid close contact with others during the pandemic. However, these options aren’t likely to disappear anytime soon, or even long after the pandemic concern dissipates.

Consumers today love and crave convenience, and these options certainly cater to their wants. Retailers that wish to maintain and grow their customer base would be wise to continue curbside delivery and other innovative forms of delivery.

4. Contactless Payments

The pandemic also changed how people paid for their retail purchases. There was a huge increase in the number of retailers offering contactless payment options in 2020. Other countries had actually already adopted contactless payments as the norm, but US consumers, concerned about safety and health, only began to grasp the concept of contactless transactions once the pandemic hit.

Now, however, after realizing not just how safe contactless payments are, but also how convenient they are, it is likely that many retailers will continue to offer this payment option. Contactless will be the norm long after the pandemic is over. In fact, nearly 75 percent of consumers will seek to use contactless payments after Covid. It is in any retailer’s best interest to offer this payment option. It isn’t just a passing retail industry trend — it’s a new consumer expectation.

If you haven’t yet started contactless payments, or you are seeking to change merchant providers, look at the options available to you. NMA is offering retail businesses 3 months of free processing and a free contactless terminal to help you get revved up for a prosperous year.

5. A Push for Local Shopping

The Covid-19 pandemic also highlighted the plight of many local retailers who were deeply affected by months of shutdown. While many have since bounced back, many more are still struggling, and unfortunately, thousands have shut down completely. However, consumers have recognized that they can keep existing local retailers open by choosing to shop locally rather than online or at big-box chain stores.

Local businesses should engage their local community to build brand awareness. Producing SEO content and reaching out to consumers via online platforms is another way to ensure that local brands get noticed.

6. Personalization

A large part of catering to the consumer experience is by providing a personalized experience to each potential and existing customer. Personalization trends include suggested products based on previous purchase histories and text messages or emails offering discounts for loyal service. These and other innovative means of making the customer feel valued play a big role in securing future sales. They could be the key to remaining competitive in a tough marketplace.

This is especially important to connect with those customers who prefer to remain socially distant. Staying in touch with your customer base will ensure you stay relevant in their minds. That improves the chances that they will purchase from your establishment, rather than from a large online retailer.

Get Started with a New Merchant Services Provider

You may already engage in some of these retail industry trends. Others may take some time to plan and implement.

To get started with adapting to some of these new retail industry trends quickly, consider switching to NMA as your credit card merchant services provider. Offering more than just contactless payment terminals, NMA is dedicated to ensuring the success of each and every one of its clients.

Serving independent businesses around the globe, NMA offers its own business expertise to provide business owners with resources, products, and benefits that will enable you to do your job better.For more information about NMA and to get started with a switch to a credit card merchant services provider that does more for you, visit NMA today. Once you get started processing with NMA, you’ll truly understand the value of membership.