4 trends driving the future of retail

4 trends driving the future of retail - 4 trends driving the future of retail

Welcome to the new era of retail. COVID-19 forced retailers to adapt or go out of business; many introduced new ways of interacting with consumers, including delivery methods and products that met new shopper needs. Such changes may have been spurred by the pandemic, but they’re expected to long outlive it.

On April 20, retail executives from marketers including eBay, Petco, American Eagle and more will speak about what is driving the retail evolution and how brands should be positioning themselves for the future. The half-day, livestreamed event, Ad Age Next: Retail, will dive into the strategies all retailers will need in order to remain relevant with today’s modern shoppers. Here’s a look at some of the trends that will be discussed:

Delivery innovation

The skyrocketing rise of e-commerce over the course of the last year has paved the way for new ways of delivering goods to customers. Now, owning that last mile has become more critical as a competitive advantage. Executives from Walmart, Wayfair and Google will talk about how their companies have overcome challenges to improve distribution.

Inclusive brands and products

Following the death of George Floyd last year, many brands incorporated social justice promises and diversity initiatives into their strategies. But many were just checking a box. Experts say brands need to think long-term about such issues to be truly authentic when it comes to brokering connections with all consumers. Some brands, including Barbie, Bombas and Foot Locker, have invested in long-term programs and products that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion.


It’s no longer enough to offer an online checkout experience—the last year has taught shoppers to expect to be entertained. Brands like e.l.f. and American Eagle are investing in new social media initiatives to better serve their customers and convince them to open their wallets. Klarna, the buy now, pay later service, recently hosted a livestreamed shopping event with Cosmopolitan magazine.

Wellness-infused retail

As health continues to be a focus for consumers, many brands are incorporating wellness into their own businesses. Petco recently announced its transformation to a health and wellness brand, and is now rolling out a new ad campaign to promote its new approach. Pet adoption skyrocketed during pandemic-related lockdowns, but how Americans treat their animal family members will continue to be a trend to watch.

Learn more about Ad Age Next: Retail and buy your ticket here.

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