2021’s Top Retail Challenges

As you know, in 2021, labor and inventory have been top pains. Changing customer expectations have also rounded out top challenges for this year as COVID restrictions have continued to create uncertainty and inconvenience.

Top business challenges in 2021:

2021 Retail Challenges Include Staffing and Hiring at Number 2

With the continued unpredictability of labor and materials and a notable uptick in demand, many businesses are focusing on working more effectively to capitalize on what they have.

According to our data, local businesses are bouncing back with digital tools to help their teams work better. They’re focusing on efficiency to put people—both customers and employees—first. And those making investments in digital marketing are also seeing greater ROI.

Retailers are investing digitally to keep great employees happy.

As employee value rises, methods to prevent employee burnout and increase retention have become major priorities across the board.

Avoiding burnout has become a matter of helping employees work smarter, not harder. Local retailers need to optimize through digital means if they want to meet the high demand and changed consumer expectations while keeping staff happy.

According to a recent survey, among local business respondents with a line of sight into investments, 60% report purchasing technology in the past 12 months to help their teams work more efficiently. And 45% of retailers have spent more on their digital presence (eg: social media, SEO, website) since the pandemic.

Top Investments in Digital by Retail Businesses. Point-of-Sale Systems are at the top of list.

And this data isn’t isolated. According to recent research by Twillio, 87% of businesses report that digital communications are critically or very important to their survival during the pandemic and will be critically or very important to their success going forward.

With all this digital investment, what technologies are businesses actually buying to improve efficiency? In order, the top five spend areas are Webchat, Marketing Automation solutions, Phone Systems, Point of Sale, and CRM. A long list of other areas of investment includes accounting software and social media management solutions.

Three technologies retailers should invest in.


SMS marketing is the practice of using text messages to convert leads and keep customers engaged. Messages can include a number of multimedia elements such as pictures, videos, GIFs, and links. SMS marketing is extremely effective and has been proven to significantly increase revenue, loyalty, and quality of experience.

This method is becoming an increasing mainstay as 61% of retailers report using text to market to their customers.

7 text marketing statistics

Retailers can use SMS marketing for:

  • Inventory updates and notifications (restocking notifications, in-stock promotions, low-stock notifications)
  • Promotions, sale events, holidays
  • In-store events for campaigns subscribers (VIP list)
  • Liquidation/inventory clear-out
  • New product arrival
  • Buy back or used product purchase (great for retailers who refurbish and resell items)
  • Service promotions (ski tune-up, jewelry cleaning, guitar lessons, golf club fitting, etc.)
  • Product demo (rent a guitar to try it, demo a pair of skis for the weekend)

A recent use case for retailer texting has been recruiting. Retailers are using text to find, retain, and connect with quality employees.

Payments Product Illustration


How do you make payment processing easy for your employees and your customers? Simple. With the right tools, it’s as easy as sending a text and clicking a link to pay.

Local retailers have found text-to-pay extremely valuable in giving customers a convenient and immediate way to pay. With text-to-pay, you can:

  • Bring your account receivable down
  • Give your customers the option they want
  • Continue the conversation beyond checkout

Two-thirds of high-income consumers who have tried text payments either liked or strongly liked it.

With the addition of mobile card readers, you can ensure that your employees can take multiple forms of payment on the go and cater to every consumer preference.


Messaging Platform

Want to do it all? With the right platform, you can consolidate and save time in significant ways.

You can message your leads and customers, gather reviews and feedback, collect payments, and communicate easily with your team–all from one easy-to-use inbox. By powering all of the interactions that matter most to your business, the right tools put you miles ahead of your competition.

Purpose-built to power both local business and enterprise communications, Podium allows you to do it all by:

  • Winning more leads. Turn online prospects into offline buyers by standing out when they’re searching and providing a convenient way to get in touch–no matter where they’re looking for you.
  • Earning repeat customers. Answer questions, schedule appointments, and close the deal without the hold music and phone tag. It’s the best way to earn repeat business and turn customers into promoters.
  • Doing more as a team. Don’t just do more–do it together. Connect and collaborate with your team, all from the same platform where you interact with your leads and customers.

You can get started with Podium for free today.

Logan Wooden
Logan Wooden Product Marketing Manager, Retail

Logan Wooden is a Product Marketing and Retail professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.