A Publicist’s Take On Emerging Retail Tech Trends


Amidst a year of struggle for many retailers, the newfound challenges revealed a number of positives in innovation, and sales even soared for some. Though the consumer journey changed radically, with these seismic shifts came a fair amount of opportunity for many of our retail clients to deepen their relationship with their customers, or roll out the tools needed to support a better understanding. As retailers continue this momentum, brands are under constant pressure to meet new expectations in the emerging “phyigital” retail world.

In working with dozens of some of the world’s leading retail tech and e-commerce companies over the past six-plus years at N6A, I’ve gotten a peek behind the curtain at some of the common areas companies in this arena are looking to improve upon. Through that lens, watching the pace of innovation and pivots many of our clients took over the last year to accelerate and support transformation of this industry has been, put simply, really cool to watch unfold. 

With a growing interest in how both our startup and more established clients continue to look at ways of building back up the industry, I’ve set out to highlight a few growing trends across the space about which I’m excited and inspired:


Emerging Trend #1: The growth of reselling apps and platforms

While the past few decades in retail have been defined by easily discarded fast fashion, one of the most exciting emerging trends has been the rise of reselling apps and platforms. Across the spectrum of retailers, new platforms are giving refurbished, resold, and first-run fashion a new life. These initiatives are making big-name brands more accessible to wider audiences as well as reducing some of the reliance on lower-cost clothing bought to be worn just a few times. Nike, for example, has rolled out its own refurbishment program, and other fashion brands have moved to partner with reselling platform Depop. There are also success stories proving that this concept is viable in the long term, with reselling platform Poshmark launching its IPO in January and, in the two months since its market debut, online consignment and thrift store ThredUp has set terms for its own initial public offering. We’ve also seen e-commerce marketplace Mercari running their own ads in the Super Bowl.


Emerging Trend #2: A rise in “shoppertainment” via AR, VR and AI

The past year has been a complete upending of the physical shopping experience as stay-at-home orders and capacity requirements severely limited in-store shopping. As a result of these limitations, contactless shopping emerged as the future of how we shop; in fact, contactless payments grew 150% over the last year. The pandemic also created a sudden, expeditious need for more storytelling and immersion to be grasped within both digital and physical shopping experiences. While this trend is predominantly taking hold in Europe right now, many of our global clients are looking at ways to leverage these emerging artificial intelligence tools, including augmented reality and virtual reality, to harness the future of retail environments.


Emerging Trend #3: Mobile everything

Of course, given the limitations on physical retail, 2020 and 2021 saw an explosion in online shopping. Behind that explosion, however, was an acceleration of the digital transformation we’ve all known was coming for years, particularly in mobile shopping. Almost three-quarters of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people. Across the globe and in primary markets like the U.S., mobile devices play, and will play a much larger role when it comes to online retail, with around 2 billion people currently accessing the internet via only their smartphone.


Bringing in a Partner to Help Tell Your Story

If you’re a B2B or B2B2C vendor that works with retail brands, within the categories above or not, now is the perfect time to invest in marketing and PR to help tell your innovation stories and how you’re helping drive forward this next evolution of an industry.

Whether you’re solving for pain points in front of house or back of house, online or physical, supply chain or software—the retail industry has both accelerated digitally and stood still physically over the last year—with those incredible challenges comes the opening of many new doors for new startups to be born. 

If you’re looking to launch a new retail product or brand and are looking for PR and digital marketing support, shoot me, Cameron, an email at clisa@n6a.com.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you have in the works! 

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