Large US Retailers Upbeat About Financial Recovery in 2021 Thanks to COVID-19 Vaccines

Tue 12th Jan

Research by Emarsys ahead of NRF has found that, after a tough year in 2020, US retailers are remaining upbeat about their prospects in 2021.

Many of the largest US retailers are optimistic about the year ahead, with nearly one in five (19 per cent) saying that 2021 will be a much better year for business thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. That’s according to new research from tech company Emarsys, which works with some of the biggest US retail brands on omnichannel customer engagement.

Adding to the confidence that retail will see some kind of normality in the next few months, just a fifth of large US retailers say that they expect to see significant business challenges throughout 2021 even with the vaccine rollout. One in five also say they will be less fearful of doing things differently in 2021, while a further 19 per cent say they will invest more in fulfillment and their supply chains in the year ahead. 

These findings come from Emarsys’ most recent research with 355 senior marketers working within large US retail brands (turnover of $20 million+), reflecting on the year the retail industry has battled, while also assessing plans for the year ahead. This chimes with recent research from SAP and Oxford Economics, which finds that supply chains are a top three priority for more than half of brands for 2021.

The positivity is also effecting major change in the way large US retailers are thinking, with a third saying they will better monitor what other businesses within their immediate sector are doing to ensure they keep pace with new innovations and customer engagement methods.

And as 61 per cent of consumers say they will maintain some of their new online shopping habits after the pandemic ends (according to the SAP’s The Influential Shopper report, from The Economist), a third of retailers say they will focus more of their investment in digital marketing (such as email marketing and social media promotions) over traditional outdoor advertising and direct mail, and more on digital channels.

Alex Timlin, SVP verticals at Emarsys, said, “2020 was clearly a very challenging year for the retail industry across the world, but as our research shows, there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the outlook for 2021.

“One of the reasons why 2021 will be more positive is that during 2020, retailers have collected far more data on customer behaviour and product preference thanks to the rise in eCommerce. 2021, therefore, will be about how retailers use those new insights to inform their marketing strategy, product portfolio, and tactical marketing execution. That’s important because it will help retailers personalise far more effectively, which is the foundation of a winning customer experience.”

One US brand that is looking ahead to 2021 is children’s apparel company Hanna Andersson. In 2020, the brand focused on transforming their business model to be more customer centric – everything from messaging, promotions, and product launch strategy.  The focus has been successful – in 2020 the brand has seen double-digit increases in site traffic, conversion rate, as well as significant reduction in returns, and the brand is looking positively ahead for the year to come.

Kristin Smith, senior vice president of digital at Hanna Andersson, said, “At Hanna Andersson, we knew we had to transform our business from a catalogue-based retailer to a more customer-centric brand.  While 2020 has been very challenging, we focused on our customer and paid attention to how our they were shopping with us, and have seen terrific results and plan on continuing the momentum in 2021.”

Visit https://emarsys.com/learn/ to learn more about Emarsys’ 2021 unpredictions.