What’s next for shopping? Our practical take on how to thrive in retail

A changing sector

We’ve seen countless predictions for a post-pandemic world, especially relating to retail. While we’re keen not to add to the noise, it’d be foolish not to analyse the immense changes in this sector and look at how ustwo can help.

We care about people, so we stay in touch with their changing needs and habits. Living memory can recall few bigger shocks than the Covid-19 pandemic, so we’re keeping a keen eye on what it’s doing to people’s buying behaviours and, by extension, what that means for retailers.

We’ve watched people embrace a radically digital new world, where they can (and had to) do much more from the safety of home. We’ve seen continuous change rolling out, and we’ve kept tabs on what those factors have done to people’s expectations as customers.

Roll with the punches

Things weren’t rosy for retail pre-pandemic and it’s been one of the hardest-hit sectors since it arrived, with fluctuating demand, supply chain challenges and — most importantly — negative effects on people both internally (your workforce) and externally (your customers).

However, with every challenge comes an opportunity for learning and positive change. We’re interested in what “build back better” means for retail. This three-part study dives into opportunity areas we’ve spotted, plus our observations of companies that are doing well in these areas:

1. Commerce starts at home

Precious few retailers can generate a community from nowhere — what most can do is benefit those that already exist around them by getting to know them, their fears and aspirations, and identifying the gaps they can realistically and helpfully plug.

Read the full report (sign up below) to discover the opportunity areas we’ve identified, and how best to make sure your innovations and initiatives add value in the communities on which your business relies. We cite examples of brands making mutually beneficial but unexpected partnerships, intelligent pivots and schemes that keep up the spirit of camaraderie we saw in the first half of 2020.


2. Face it: phygital is a thing now

How many times in the past five years have you heard or read about “phygital retail” being the next big thing? More than we can count. It’s taken a global pandemic, however, to force our hands to make these much-lauded phygital retail ideas not just a reality, but a necessity.

Our report looks into the importance of making detached, remote interactions feel more human, more personal. We show how some businesses are using technology to bridge the gaps naturally created by taking previously in-person exchanges online, and to make sure that contactless doesn’t always have to mean soulless.

3. Direct-to-consumer’s shake-up

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is not a new retail model, but Covid-19 has demanded that both online-native innovators and bricks-and-mortar giants take a fresh look. To ensure a stable level of engagement and loyalty, they need to develop new relationships with their customers.

We take a closer look at pre-sale and subscription models that have been working well, and showcase some of the innovative ways that companies are addressing the environmental impact of the massive increase in demand for delivery services.


Engagement and loyalty for the win

Driving engagement and loyalty is the core goal common to our three themes, and should be at the heart of any retail innovation. We’ve created thought-starters to help you put people at the middle of your business, including:

Understand new customer values

While research projects may sometimes feel like a luxury, they could well prevent you making costly mistakes as they’ll reveal what you can realistically do to offer people something they’ll value.

Convenience and ease

Is your service fast, easy to use and reliable? If not, customers will find another that is, so look for ways to get creative with your fulfilment operations and streamline the customer experience.

Core values

As you pivot, stay true to what you believe in, be vocal about it and show you mean it with positive, public action.


If you show, in tangible ways, that you’re willing and able to step forward and support your communities in good times and bad, they will likely treat your business with the same spirit.

Being different

Are you offering people a differentiated digital experience they can’t get anywhere else? Explore how you might create an in-store experience that people simply can’t get from their sofa, giving them a genuinely great reason to come back.

Find out who's been doing these things well and how you can get started in our full report from 2020.

Download the report

We have many stories, covering various industries and service offerings: