The past year has been no stranger to the aftershocks of the ongoing pandemic and the battle that retail and e-commerce have faced during 2021. The upcoming year looks as though it could offer more growth for e-commerce, but traditional in-store shopping could continue its downward trend, meaning small businesses may be looking for innovative ways to reach customers.
What to watch out for
With new businesses and startups popping up in 2021, the retail forecast looks to hold similar trends for 2022 with new businesses and entrepreneurs. Boise’s Entrepreneur Week took place in mid-October where dozens of people showed off their startups partaking in the yearly pitch competition.
The pitch competition ideas and business ventures range from food start-ups, home building and cybersecurity. The different innovations help pave the way for other startups and small businesses in Idaho looking to make their own way in the world.
As of May 2021, for instance, Fitted decided the Treasure Valley was the perfect place to begin its retail business, showing other retail businesses the ease with which they can keep customers around.
Other, more common name brands are set to expand in 2022 or open a first location in Idaho. Dollar General, rival to Dollar Tree, will open its first location in Idaho between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint in Athol. No specific date has been set as of now.
Dollar General has over 17,600 stores as of 2021, which is up from 16,000 in September 2019, compared to its counterpart Dollar Tree, which had over 15,000 stores as of July 2020.
There are currently 51 Family Dollar stores and 38 Dollar Tree stores in Idaho.
The Dollar General business also plans on expanding a new suburban-focused storefront called Popshelf, according to Retail Dive. The company plans to open 50 locations by end of the year 2021 and have over 1,000 locations by 2025. The announcement followed its third-quarter earnings release which disclosed a sales decrease of 0.6% compared to 2020’s growth of more than 12%.
For the past decade, e-commerce retail market shares have been increasing and hit a peak during quarter two of 2020 with a share increase to 15.7%, according to the Federal Reserve. As of quarter three in 2021, the share percentage has dropped down to 13.1% as the stay-at-home order was lifted and more consumers felt comfortable shopping brick-and-mortar style.
Big changes to technology have aided in increasing the want for innovative ways to shop and see the differences in products.
“You’re seeing pretty much every major technology manufacturer producing products that can go home. From camera systems to smart lighting, and while it’s not a new trend, it has been going on for a few years, we’re continuing to see growth in that area and new players (joining) all the time and new products being added constantly,” said Nick Crabbs, Vynyl chief community officer. Vynyl is a custom software for leading companies and institutions in health care, finance, insurance and other industries, and a sponsor of Boise Entrepreneur Week.
Cryptocurrency is another modern way people are making purchases. Apps such as Coinbase can be used as an electronic wallet and issue its users a debit card, according to Crabbs.
“The fact that we can now have ways to just spend it (cryptocurrency) is an interesting innovation in their ability to have longevity. So, in terms of smart checkouts and things for e-commerce, I think you’re seeing more systems that don’t require you to interact with (them),” Crabbs said.
Other businesses that have switched to less face-to-face interactions are McDonald’s and multiple other food chains. Customers can now use a kiosk to order or a mobile app and pick up the food whenever it is ready.
Small Business Model
However, small businesses are still trying to find ways to draw in customers while adapting to new trends. Bookishly Happy, a used bookstore in Coeur d’Alene, opened in 2019 and had to learn to adapt quickly once the pandemic happened.
Alex Lopez, the owner of Bookishly Happy, has used social media to get creative and remind customers of what the shop has to offer. With no website, it can be difficult at times to reach a wider customer base, but Lopez says people can request books through social media or over the phone and pay using a credit card.
“We do all in-store (shopping); I might eventually make an e-commerce site for some of our vintage items just because they’re slowly moving,” Lopez said. “It can be kind of niche topics from different counties or people collecting specific books from specific eras by specific illustrators (for example). So, I might do (a website) one day.”
Being a part of the community is another big part of Bookishly Happy’s goals for 2022. Due to the nature of the world during its first two years of being open, Lopez thinks it’s time to give back and reach out to schools, other small businesses and libraries.
By October of 2021, Bookishly Happy made all of its sales it had in 2020 plus some, and the last two months of the year also proved to make additional profits. Lopez says that it is important to have steady foot traffic for small businesses, but 30 people can spend the same amount as 50 can.
Either way, Lopez has noticed more and more people stopping by the bookshop to peruse in person.
“Just because people are shopping through the pandemic, (little) shops are still there that you (should) go to,” Lopez said. “Don’t forget about them in 2022. Maybe take this year to think about how you’re impacting your local economy.”