Exciting Trends in Retail With Barbara Thau

August 12, 2021



Our special guest, Barbara Thau, joins us to discuss exciting trends in retail with an emphasis on experiential shopping and customer loyalty. 

How can retailers best leverage social commerce? What loyalty trends are successful in keeping customers engaged? How can retailers best employ technology to delight customers?

  • We ask these questions and more of our special guest, Barbara Thau, senior features editor for CO by the US Chamber of Commerce. As a senior features editor, Barbara often views the retail industry from above, observing the trends as they occur.
  • Right now, it’s all about the experience that retailers are able to provide to their customers, taking it a step beyond purchase and focusing on loyalty.

Conversation Rundown

[ 3:29-5:51 ] Harnessing social commerce
Retailers need to learn how to sell on social. There's no way around it. Your customers are on these platforms, and in many ways the platforms have captured the point of discovery. People shop on their social media feeds, and if you're not there, you're not being seen. That being said, it's not as easy as it may seem to do social commerce well.

[ 10:11-11:53 ] Direct to marketplace: the next big trend in retail
Online marketplaces are the new department stores. But before throwing your products on a marketplace and calling it a day, think about what you are trying to achieve. Do you want access to their user base? If so, make sure you really understand the analytics. Do you want to be associated with the other brands on the marketplace? Do the hosting and advertising fees associated with the marketplace align with your desired cost per acquisition metrics? Direct to the marketplace is a very viable business model for retailers. But it also comes with a few risks.

[ 15:32-17:51 ] New business model in retail
Retailers need to reimagine their stores' spaces and ways of operating. That isn't only the case for single-brand retailers, but especially for multi-brand retailers. We all know that big box stores such as Macy's have been struggling. With everything available online at a click of a button, these once extremely popular stores no longer have anything exciting to offer. So it's time to reimagine how that space is used to promote brands and create experiences.

[ 20:36-23:33 ] Loyalty trends to follow
Loyalty programs are expanding beyond incentives. Today, it's all about providing value through experience. It's about creating a bond with your customer so they grow to really support your brand. That's known as establishing emotional loyalty, which is far stronger than any transactional relationship. With so many options out there, loyalty should be a top priority for retailers today.

[ 28:54-31:10 ] Silver lining for retail of the pandemic
We often talk about the devastating effects of the pandemic, for good reason. But there's a silver lining for retailers. The pandemic forced brands to evolve to keep up with customers out of necessity. We saw mass change that would have otherwise taken years take place over a few months. Retailers offering omnichannel experiences for the very first time, and finding that it works. That's been great to watch, and I hope we can continue to innovate as the pandemic fades.

Meet the Experts

Barbara Thau is currently serving as a senior features editor for CO by the US Chamber of Commerce. As a senior features editor, Barbara often views the retail industry from above, observing the trends as they occur. She was a long-term contributing writer for retail at Forbes with a weekly column named Minding The Stores. 

She has been a business journalist specializing in the retail industry for over a decade, covering consumer news, company profiles and industry analysis pieces, as well as the intersection of business news and shopping, fashion and social trends.

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