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Envoy B2B’s 2021 Retailer’s Challenge Report has landed

It’s clear that retailers want more from brands than fancy digital tools.


The last year has seen our industry face some incredible challenges. Face-to-face meetings at trade shows and on-site visits that retailers relied on to do business evaporated. Brands scrambled to find new digital tools to fill the gap. These digital tools are powerful—and a life saver for many—but some brands are now facing a new problem: overcorrecting. They are placing too much emphasis on these tools at the expense of irreplaceable human interaction. If they aren’t careful, these brands will end up alienating their retailers.

Looking ahead: 2021 presents a new challenge

Brands need to overcome a new challenge for 2021. How can they empower their reps to reconnect with retailers by delivering a more human-centric experience? Brands that understand this challenge and are able to refocus on supporting their retailers and deliver that human touch will be the strongest partners as our industry shifts how it does business once again.

Envoy B2B surveyed over 6,500 retailers for our latest report, deliberately reaching out to the same group of retailers from the 2020 report. The goal was to compare and contrast how the challenges of today’s market, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic changed their opinions. This data gives brands insight into how they can best support their retailers in today’s market climate and beyond.

Download the 2021 Retailer’s Challenge Report here!

What did we learn from the Retailer’s Challenge Report?

There is a clear narrative to what retailers are telling us and it’s essential for brands to listen if they want to build strong seasons throughout 2021.

1. Retailers are swamped with digital tools

Over the last year, brands and retailers were forced to find new, digital methods of connecting. This high demand for digital tools resulted in a secondary problem of flooding retailers with too many systems to work across as they manage their stores.

2. Digital trade shows weren’t up to snuff

The current climate has largely forced us to be separated from each other while we try and do business. This works on a smaller scale for brand-led digital sell-in events and seasonal launches. But for retailers, the idea of a large scale digital “trade show” was a bust. More than anything, retailers want face-to-face interactions with a supportive rep.

3. 2020 was surprisingly strong for many retailers

While there were certainly challenges to be surmounted, and it wasn’t roses all around, many stores found ways to thrive and even put up some record months. And looking forward to the year ahead, retailers are actively seeking out new brands and products. It will be critical for brands to align themselves with retailer needs and place themselves where retailers are looking to find new opportunities.

Clearly, the human connection between brands and retailers matters. Retailers are hesitant about brands that want to replace face-to-face experiences with fully digital interactions. While all these new digital experiences have been a boon to the outdoor industry, brands need to be careful not to rely on them at the expense of their retailer’s needs.

This is just a quick overview of some of what can be learned from what retailers reported. Download the entire Envoy B2B 2021 Retailer’s Challenge Report for more data, analysis, and insights into how your brand can best support your retailers.

Click here to download the entire Retailer’s Challenge Report!