The COVID-19 pandemic has affected countries, economies, people, and businesses worldwide with shopping being one of the most affected areas. The retail industry is bearing the brunt of this unexpected crisis and retail businesses are trying to deal with it by figuring out workable methods to ensure continuity of the business. Retail has been radically influenced due to home quarantines and shutting of stores globally leaving customers with no choice but to go for online shopping. There is a shift in shopping patterns and consumer behavior with consumers getting more and more comfortable with ecommerce as their primary shopping channel. Since the trend is probably going to stay, therefore retail businesses are embracing a technology-first attitude in every aspect of their business processes.
Below are the top 10 reasons why retail will never be the same post-COVID-19:
1. Remote Working Has Triggered New Online Shopping Behavior
COVID-19 is spreading in the world. Shops are closed and home quarantine is enforced resulting in workspaces being shut down. The only feasible way to ensure business continuity is to work from home. Work dynamics have been changed by the current conditions and companies are becoming more adaptable by digitizing their methods and starting communication lines across departments. Since people, as well as companies, are taking work from home culture pretty well, it is most likely that the trend will continue post-crisis influencing online shopping behavior more.
2. A Digital-First Approach Is Required To Win And Retain Customers
Moving retail to digital was in the pipeline already and the pandemic has only speeded this shift. Before the pandemic, ecommerce was predicted to double by 2023. This growth has been accelerated by the pandemic and retailers can’t postpone implementation of a digital-first approach. Retailers need to direct all their efforts to formulate a responsive, digitally prepared omnichannel retail strategy, focussing their digital strategy on the customers.
3. Integrated Inventory Management Must Become A Core Capability To Stay Profitable
A sole channel is no longer used by the customers. Retailors need to provide an integrated experience across devices and channels. To get profit, retailers need to have an omnichannel strategy with an enterprise-wide centralized inventory management system. Customers will get a unified experience with the help of an integrated omnichannel approach.
4. New E-Commerce Shoppers With Low (No) Cost Of Acquisition Will Emerge
Consumers once cynical of ecommerce are now finding it convenient and comfortable. Even post-crisis, customers will want safe payment options, more pricing options at their disposal, and a greater variety of products, easy returns, and fast deliveries. Also, people will avoid public places and crowded shops even post-COVID, just to be cautious and this will ensure that ecommerce shopping continues.
5. Logistics Will Act As A Major Differentiator In The Retail Industry
There are few blatant variations in ecommerce logistics and supply chain. Retailers need to be prepared as ecommerce has become the new go-to shopping channel and advancement in ecommerce demand is continuing. Customers will not think twice before going to another provider if they had just one bad experience.
6. Decentralized Manufacturing Will See Fast Adoption
The pandemic has disturbed the complicated global supply chain. Borders are closed, factories are shut down which has affected getting products from manufacturing hubs. Companies are thinking about moving manufacturing near-shore or on-shore. Organizations are planning to spread their manufacturing across locations to reduce risk. Such trends will increase post-crisis, as companies looking for opportunities, risks, and accountabilities, and adjust their operations.
7. Plug-And-Play Productized Saas Solutions Will Be Vital To Respond Quickly To Demand
Some methods that once seemed implausible are being adopted during the pandemic. The shortcomings in retail businesses regarding preparation for such circumstances are visible now which has made businesses understand the necessity of being better prepared with digitized, integrated, data-driven solutions that can be accessed and installed easily. The demand for plug-and-play productized, cloud-based technology that can enable businesses to grow revenue and margins, no matter how troubled the times become.
8. Foot Spacing
Customers will avoid gathering in small spaces in the post-COVID world. Stores will have to adjust to keep people distanced from each other. Things like signage, floor decals, or audio messages in stores that will remind customers to maintain distance need to be implemented. Some customers might prefer to keep the distance from others even after it is seemingly safe.
9. Buying Limits on In-Demand Items
Currently, customers have been stocking up in-demand products such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer which has led many retailers to put a limit on the number of items that can be purchased per person. Retailors might need to put buying limits on certain products even after post-pandemic as the crisis might leave people with a hoarding attitude.
10. Reduced Hours
Responsible retailers are trying their best to keep stores cleaner than ever to stop the spread of germs. Various stores have reduced opening hours to lessen the chance of an employee getting infection. This could become the norm if customers get used to limited hours and companies can understand the same sales volumes with shorter business hours.
The pandemic has disturbed the retail sector, changed consumer behavior, and made long-term alterations to the e-commerce landscape. All the statistics and assessments show that the ecommerce segment will never be the same post-crisis.