Companies experienced extreme whiplash in 2021. If you think back to the beginning of the year, they were all fixated on regaining momentum after a tough year of lost sales. They went into hyperspeed to roll out projects that had been put on pause, leading to a record year for product and service updates, regulatory changes, and technology innovation.
While progress is generally good for the industry, it's also created commerce chaos for many brands and retailers who are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. The commerce ecosystem looks completely different than it did two years ago, and we're at a pivotal point where those who fail to fit into this new retail reality will lose out. According to Productsup's new report, The P2C report: radically rethinking commerce, nearly half (49%) of US companies are very concerned with their ability to compete with hyper scale companies and online marketplaces.
But looking ahead, 2022 will be the year when those who have been falling behind will have the opportunity to catch up to big industry players.
The biggest changes in retail in 2021
Although new marketing and sales channels have been emerging for years, 2021 saw the rapid development of marketplaces, social commerce platforms, and other online stores. For instance, Michaels announced plans to launch two of its own marketplaces and Poshmark started letting brands sell directly to consumers. TikTok is now offering Dynamic Showcase Ads, and Pinterest has launched Pinterest TV. The availability of shopping channels has skyrocketed, providing more opportunities for retailers to reach consumers. However, more channels also mean more work for companies to keep up with, which has proven to be nearly impossible.
As new channels popped up and others matured this year, the requirements to market and sell products on them have also changed. Take Google for example – earlier this year it imposed new requirements for product feeds to appear on Google Product Search. Not only do companies have to stay on top of onboarding their products to new channels, but they also have to constantly update their listings in existing channels to adapt to policy changes.
Finally, one of the most influential changes from 2021 is the advancement toward a metaverse future. With Facebook's big reveal of its rebrand to Meta and Nike preparing to launch virtual sneakers and apparel, this year has hinted that major expansion of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is on the horizon. But many companies are still trying to get a handle on basic e-commerce – selling in the virtual world is only going to take complexity to the next level.
The biggest opportunities in retail in 2022
This past year has proven companies' existing tech stacks are no longer useful and create more problems than they solve – a recent Forrester study found that 62% of retail business leaders said their organization is looking to replace their current commerce solution.
As a result of the retail industry getting a complete makeover in 2021, companies need to scrap their old ways of thinking and take an entirely fresh approach to market and sell their products. The only solution to executing a successful omnichannel strategy is a product-to-consumer (P2C) strategy.
P2C is a new concept, explored in this report from Constellation Research, that simplifies how companies bring their products to consumers. By condensing the management of product data into a holistic, centralized view, companies can streamline the path product information takes between suppliers and buyers. With a P2C strategy, companies don't have to lean on multiple different platforms to enrich their product data, syndicate content across thousands of channels, and actively manage their products within the commerce ecosystem. Whether you're a B2B, B2C, or D2C business is no longer relevant because the concept of a P2C model is that companies only need a one-stop solution that addresses all commerce challenges — regardless of what your product or who your customer base is.
Productsup's research found that 67% of business leaders believe a P2C strategy will enable them to make better decisions based on data-driven insights, and 58% think it will drive a higher rate of innovation to help them stay ahead of the competition. A strong P2C strategy has the potential to transform operations by automating manually-intensive, time-consuming labor like updating product feeds. By simplifying technical processes, P2C also eliminates the need for IT support and enables more end-users to successfully manage product data. Other benefits of a P2C strategy include removing data silos of information stored across multiple systems (ie. PIM, ERP, DAM), developing expertise for individual channels' ever-changing data requirements, and adding personalizations to adapt to the needs of your commerce business.
While the past year has been a chaotic scramble for retailers to adapt to rapid change, they have an opportunity in 2022 to take back control. By implementing a P2C strategy, companies can replace failing patchworked solutions with a straightforward commerce strategy that is equipped to respond to whatever comes next in retail.