In my previous post, I talked about the steps you can take today to help your retail business stay afloat during the economic and social tsunami of COVID-19.
While it may
seem far away, the day will come when we open the doors of our businesses
again. Even though there are still plenty of unknowns at this point, we can be
sure that we won’t be doing business the way we used to.
some things I see unfolding in the post-pandemic retail world.
Today’s nice-to-haves will be tomorrow’s must-haves. A few weeks ago, the investments for buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, food delivery service, contactless payment and self-checkout were all justified as “improving customer experience to increase revenue.” Now these technologies enable consumer commerce under social distancing. Beyond the pandemic, these investments will become a set of mandatory risk management capabilities to protect future revenue.
Remote collaboration will have a permanent place
in retail. While many retailers use
video conferencing occasionally, most still prefer to do business in person.
This forced work-from-home time will show retailers they can work effectively
from a distance with their suppliers, vendors, remote locations, and store
managers and associates. The use of telemedicine and chatbot triage diagnosis
within the healthcare industry is the proof of concept that will validate and
reinforce this acceptance.
IT investment will swing back to the supply chain. The same level of investment retailers have
made in the digital transformation of the customer experience will migrate to
the supply chain through projects that implement RFID and IoT.
Retailers will rethink traffic. The involuntary store and restaurant closures
offer test cases for how customers use locations now versus when it’s safe to
leave their homes again. Smart businesses will pay attention to this data and
use it to re-evaluate which stores drive traffic, which ones drive brand
awareness, and which stores just fulfill goods. Additionally, consumers who
moved to 100% online interaction with your brand may not return your locations
when they reopen.
Some retailers can try targeting different
shoppers by daypart. The exclusive
shopping hours some retailers are offering senior shoppers during the pandemic
is an interesting experiment. While stores will likely go back to regular hours
for all, specialty retailers should watch this temporary practice and consider
changing their promotional messaging by daypart. For example, if most of your
store traffic between the hours of 9:00 and 11:30 a.m. is made up of shoppers
65 and older, but that age group shifts to 24 to 40 during lunch hour drop-in
traffic, you could swap out your front displays and window signage to promote
to both audiences and improve conversions.
As we deal with the reality of COVID-19, we’re heads down, trying to keep our businesses functioning. I’d suggest finding a little time at some point to consider what the retail world might look like when the threat of coronavirus is lifted. The retailers that survive disruptions are the ones who can pivot, learn and adapt to changing market and social conditions. Hopefully this post will give you a few ideas to get started.
Have any thoughts about what you’ll be doing differently in your business? As always, let me know your thoughts—this is new territory for all of us! Connect with me at Jeffrey.Neville@windstream.com.
Jeff is a business focused technology strategist with a passion for generating company results through process change and technology innovation.
His experience includes both managing e-Commerce and SaaS businesses and consulting with clients on their growth strategies, business and operating models, customer and market strategies. Jeff also has extensive experience in helping IT and Engineering organizations make the transition to agile development and DevOps methodologies.
Jeff’s combination of consulting and operating experiences in North America, the EU and China enables him to bring a unique perspective to business challenges when partnering with his clients.
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