The coronavirus pandemic has changed the retail industry, resulting in the closure of some physical stores and creating uncertainty for the future operation of the remaining ones. There’s no question that the coronavirus is amplifying and accelerating disruption that the retail industry has long undergone. However, this is not the end of brick-and-mortar retail. Instead, it sheds light on the retail revolution. The retail industry, to strive after the pandemic, must embrace the change and re-enter consumer’s sight with a brand new form.
Transparency is the key
Supply chain and environmental impact transparency have been a hot trend for the last few years. Now it’s retailers’ turn to take transparency to the next level. Digitalization has already given customers access to pricing information and product reviews. Still, customers will be demanding for more store information such as occupancy levels, inventory availability, and how retailers are handling the health and safety issues of employees as well as customer feedback.
Ideally, shoppers should be able to browse store information online before going out for a shopping trip, so they can understand the product and store availability and make relevant purchase decisions. For example, the customer may opt for curbside pickup by making online orders beforehand if the store is highly crowded. Transparency makes purpose-oriented shopping efficient and effortless. The trend will take stores and malls’ operation transparency up to a whole new level.
To improve transparency, it is crucial to build tools facilitating the exchange of data and information between retailers and customers. For example, Yoobic has developed a virtual queuing application so that customers can join the queue line virtually to avoid long waits.
Reshape the in-store experience
Online and offline retail will continue to merge under the pandemic situation. O’Connor, a veteran retail adviser and visiting executive at the Harvard Business School, raised the example of supermarket Hema, an offline “showroom” and logistics center that allows shoppers to view the products and place the order online in an app simultaneously. Customer data, such as item preferences, shopping history, and payment information flows directly into the app, allowing a more personalized shopping experience upon future visits.
The BOPIS or “buy online and pick up in-store” model of commerce had gained much attention even before the coronavirus, and it is now becoming the new normal, according to Aaron Cheris, head of Bain & Co.’s retail practice. He pointed out that pickup currently makes up 40 to 50 percent of e-commerce orders, and the trend is expected to remain after the pandemic. “It’s super-convenient and feels super-fast,” he said. Adobe Analytics also reported that from February 24, 2020 to March 21, 2020, BOPIS orders increased 62 percent, compared to the same period a year earlier. Across the offline retail landscape, the rise of e-commerce is pushing forward significant innovation in stores to attract more customers. Some retailers, like Burrow Inc., were incorporating more personalized shopping experiences into the stores Activities such as guest speakers, live podcast recordings, and book readings all create a sense of community among customers. Although Burrow’s offline stores are temporarily closed, customers will surely be looking forward to store reopenings with more unforgettable and exciting shopping experiences after such a long period of social distancing.
Embrace an agile operating model
The fast-changing post-pandemic environment will urge retailers to come up with flexible plans. More real-time insights about customers, as well as an adaptable operating model, will enable retailers to react to changes in no time.
Successful retailers know how to use data to optimize customer experience, gauge satisfaction, identify footfall patterns, and generate purchase recommendations. And now, near-real-time tracking technology is replacing traditional surveys to become the optimal channel for getting customer data. . . With the use of the latest technology, retailers can extract more customer data in a shorter time. Given more offline shoppers expected after the pandemic, retailers should seize the opportunity to generate insights from these customers and construct targeted retention plans to win over competitors. For example, one Chinese rental-car company created a team to monitor real-time customer data and identify trends. The company has come up with several new offers based on insights from the analysis.
Retailers are facing many challenges under the Coronavirus outbreak, and time is of the essence. They should start preparing themselves for emerging business trends. The retail industry is still evolving, and customer expectations will continue to shift in response. However, retailers that focus on the shopping experience and can respond to customer’s needs with flexibility and innovation will always be the ultimate winners.
Cyclops is a retail analytics system that can help retailers generate insights into how their customers shop inside their stores. To understand more about how Cyclops can help retailers digitally transform their stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our website: https://dayta.ai