Reimagining Retail: How shopping is entering a new hybrid reality


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to the retail industry and fundamentally altered consumer behaviour. From the festive season shopping rush to fashion week, brands have been forced to adapt to these changes and reimagine many of their offline experiences online.

This digital renaissance represents a broader retail shift moving forwards: E-commerce is set to continue to become more experiential in order to offer the benefits that consumers have become used to IRL. At the same time, brick-and-mortar shops are implementing new services and technologies to add more efficiency to the shopping experience. While this shift is happening across all of retail, it’s particularly prominent in the luxury sector.

Shopping is entering a new hybrid reality

More and more, consumers are blending the best of online and in-store to create their ideal hybrid shopping experience. In the US, omnichannel shopping has grown by 50% since the beginning of the pandemic. Luxury shoppers in particular have been fuelling much of this growth. Compared with non-luxury buyers, luxury shoppers globally are 1.8 times more likely to say they engage in omnichannel shopping behaviours.

Mobile and social media are central to this cross-channel behaviour. Two-thirds (66%) of global shoppers say their mobile device has become their most important shopping tool. Social is now becoming the new flagship store, serving as the main source for product and brand discovery. Globally, 63% of fashion shoppers say they discover new clothing brands or items on social media.

E-commerce is evolving into more immersive and experiential formats

Shoppers are embracing new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality to turn their living rooms into fitting rooms. Notably, 61% of online shoppers say they want to virtually try on products from the comfort of their own home. This technology is also showing opportunity for growth in the luxury sector. Compared to the general US population, luxury shoppers are four times more likely to use AR/VR devices to explore products or services they’re interested in buying.

Other digital formats are also emerging to recreate the benefits of offline shopping in a virtual environment. For example, live commerce is a growing trend in which consumers are able to see immersive product demonstrations and reviews via live-streams. This format has seen massive success in China, and consumers have a huge appetite for the technology across the globe – nearly half (49%) of online shoppers say they would buy products directly from live videos where brands, celebrities or influencers they follow are launching new products.

In-store shopping is becoming more efficient and intentional

Despite e-commerce#s growing prominence, it’s projected that 81% of total retail sales worldwide in 2021 will still take place in physical shops. However, consumers’ needs are shifting when it comes to in-store shopping due to safety concerns. Driven by the demand for an expedited brick-and-mortar experience, consumers are now planning their shop trips in advance with the help of digital resources. Compared to non-luxury buyers, luxury shoppers globally are 1.7 times more likely to research products online before buying them in-store.

Convenience is now a key driver for in-store purchase decisions, especially as time becomes a more scarce resource. More than a third (37%) of in-store consumers globally say a fast or express checkout would significantly improve their shopping experience. This demand has given rise to offerings such as self-checkout, roadside pick-up and click-and-collect services with grocery retailers. And it is having a cross-category impact on luxury consumer expectations. In fact, globally, luxury shoppers are now 2.5 times more likely to use click-and-collect services than non-luxury buyers. To prepare for this, non-essential and luxury retailers will need to consider how they can emulate some of the conveniences offered in sectors such as grocery in their own customer experience.


  1. Reimagine how you reach new customers: The digitisation of discovery is allowing shoppers to try new brands and retailers. Tap into the new experimental shopper mindset and embrace discovery commerce to anticipate shoppers’ needs.
  2. Reimagine online interactions: As shoppers increasingly embrace e-commerce and social commerce, offer interactive, fun, and seamless digital experiences to replicate the best of offline shopping in an online environment.
  3. Reimagine in-store engagement: Shoppers are looking for more efficiency when visiting a physical retailer. Find ways to expedite the in-store experience from discovery to purchase, and promote offerings that add more convenience to consumers’ lives.

Written by Facebook

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