5 Ways To Elevate
“Retail Relevance” In 2022


What started as “two weeks” then “two months” and now “two years,” the pandemic has continued to have significant impacts on the evolution of retail. What does this trend look like for 2022? How can we start to plan and prepare for the retail landscape of 2022?

Like any year, 2022 will have challenges both old and new. Those who adapt will gain disproportionate market share in the upcoming year. More specifically in the “recreation retail” space we must look outside our industry and admit other forms of discretionary spending and recreation are much stronger competition for our customer dollars than the other gun shop across town.

Let’s, for a moment, step away from our business and take a wider look at the retail landscape and see where it’s heading for 2022, and where we have opportunity (and time) to adapt to this change.

The Staying Power Of E-Commerce

U.S. Department of Commerce retail numbers for Q2 2021 were impressive, to say the least. Retail sales for Q2 rose almost 20% year-over-year in 2021. In that same period, e-commerce sales accounted for 18.6% of all retail sales — down from 21.1% in Q4 2020, the all-time peak for e-commerce penetration in retail sales. This drop from 21.1% to 18.9% can be largely attributed to consumers returning to brick-and-mortar businesses due to restrictions being lifted. E-commerce sales saw a lift in year-over-year sales dollar volume of 9.3% for the same period of time.

These figures showcase e-commerce accounts for $1 of every $5 spent in the world of retail today. What’s more is the growth of retail spending in 2021 can attribute $1 of every $4 to e-commerce. It’s clear people value convenience more than ever and need something special in the brick-and-mortar space to entice them away from online sales.

Here are five ways we can examine our stores and bring about positive change that will let us tap into these gains and maximize the chance of survival in 2022.

1. Convenience

We now live in a landscape of same-day delivery (or even two-hour delivery) in many, if not most markets. Even before the pandemic hit, over 51% of major retailers offered some form of “Same-Day Delivery.” Now with online buying being the norm, offering your local customers a same-day delivery option isn’t a novelty any longer. Look toward many of the food industry delivery services to broaden their services to other retail businesses in your landscape. Other services such as TaskRabbit can be used for more sporadic needs.

It’s no question: Same-day delivery is an integral part of the retail landscape. The longer you wait to offer it, the further you’ll fall behind retail competition. Of course, to have same-day delivery you must have some form of an e-commerce portal.

This convenience mindset should extend to your e-commerce site as well. Make the purchase process as easy and seamless as possible, give multiple delivery options — be it “Buy Online, Pickup In Store,” “Ship To My House” or “Same-Day Delivery” — and make it clear if the product is available for purchase and where it’s available.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

W. Edwards Deming

2. Contactless Purchasing

In an ever-growing environment of safety and personal health, having “touchless” or “human-free” paths to purchase is growing stronger and stronger with each passing week.

Grocery stores are a prime example. Most stores are investing more heavily than ever in self-checkout kiosks; when you observe customer traffic in these stores it’s not uncommon to see long lines waiting for these kiosks while lines for the more traditional clerk-based checkout are short or even non-existent.

This strongly indicates self-checkout isn’t about convenience as much as it is about not wanting to interact with another person. Find ways to offer customers a contactless purchase journey — be it through kiosks, buy online and pick-up in store options or any other means minimizing the human interaction.

3. Experiential Selling

Since many of the products in the firearm industry are either age-restricted or require background checks, it gives us a blessing in disguise. The fact customers are required to visit our physical store is something many other retailers can only dream about.

There will likely be more mass closures of retail businesses in 2022 — how will you make your store stand out from the survivors? Better yet, how will you gain market share so you’re not one of the stores that close in 2022? Consider experiential selling.

Retail trends are focusing more on the experience and less on the products. Concentrate on what the customer wants to experience, be it time trying out a new firearm before they buy, seeing what the new AR accessory might look like on their rifle through augmented-reality software or simply having events at your store where customers can go beyond just the product.
Do these, and you’ll find yourself standing out and looking more like the current retail space.

Retail trends are focusing more on the experience and less on the products.

4. Social Selling

Using various online platforms and partnering with market influencers looks set to continue its growth in 2022. The firearm industry has many roadblocks and challenges in this space, but it’s no excuse to abandon it completely. Partnering with influencers, becoming an influencer yourself and finding other outlets such as “pop-up stores” to engage with customers will go a long way to help your store feel retail relevant.

5. Brand Culture

Finding more ways to broadcast corporate values continues to show strong influence on how quickly businesses grow and will grow only more in 2022. In other words, it’s not about what you sell, but who you are as a company.

In today’s retail landscape access to product information has never been easier. Therefore, it has become far less important about what you sell and far more about building your brand (i.e., “tribe”). This is even being further underscored by growth in “house-branded” products seeing faster growth than national brands.

Intentionally letting your customer base know, through well-crafted marketing, what your core values and beliefs are will help people be more comfortable buying from you. Look toward products that squarely align with your brand message, and see if you can create a private-label version of it for your store.

Moving In The Right Direction

The message here is to identify where the greatest opportunity sits in your organization to up your game and stay at least with, if not ahead, of the trends in the retail sphere. Set goals, make staff accountable and don’t relent on moving your business in the right direction.

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