Study: In 'Retail Reset,' Stores Change Digital Directions

Image above: Zepeto X Gucci -- a partnership with the Zepeto virtual world -- is just one way retailers are expanding to virtual reality.

Retailers are more confident than ever of consumers’ enduring love for digital innovation, and new research from Deloitte says that will be the basis for a broad “retail reset” in the year ahead.

The study finds the smartest chains are galloping toward digital goods, such as NFTs, voice commerce and cashier-less stores.

Even as consumers are more comfortable heading back to stores -- and happy to do so for the experiences they find rewarding -- they still expect ongoing digital upgrades to make their lives easier.

“Consumers have reset their level of reliance on technology and digital platforms,” the report says. “Virtual work, school, and entertainment now fill homes with more gadgets and accessories. In addition, consumers tried and adopted new and innovative ways to shop.”



The report is based on interviews with 50 executives at retailers with more than $1 billion in sales. Among those classed as digital leaders, 65% believe retailers will engage more consumers via digital goods. So if they haven’t yet begun to dabble in offers for the metaverse, Deloitte says it’s time to get moving.

Luxury brands, led by Gucci (see image above) are already doing so. And the Roblox gaming platform is already home to innovators like Nikeland, with brands as diverse as Vans, Hyundai and Netflix winning over young gamers.

“Retailers should work to get an early start to help increase brand recognition with a more tech-savvy target demographic” using new formats to launch products virtually, activate events and create value-added and exclusive offers, the report continues.

Voice commerce is also important, with 55% of digital leaders saying they believe it will have achieved wide adoption within five years. And 55% say staff-free stores, like Amazon Go and those under development at Walmart and Kroger, will be common.

However, none of those market leaders believe cryptocurrency will be widely used, either by retailers or consumers.

And 70% of all the executives plan moderate or major investments in digital marketing, while about 67% say they invest more in ecommerce and online shopping platforms, replacing outdated platforms. And as consumers become increasingly at ease with more advanced digital experiences, cloud computing is becoming more important.

Only 25% are investing in data security measures.

The report also asked about hiring problems and staff shortages and found that retailers are, at least on some level, responding to their reputation as terrible employers.

Some 83% of retailers say they invest more in recruiting and retaining. “As retailers look towards the future, they should invest in technology and automation to compete with more tech-savvy industries while also offering culture, flexibility, and purpose to attract talent," Deloitte advises.

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