Retail has been hugely impacted by the pandemic. It’s natural for every store owner to wish for the days we can get back to normal, but the chances are, normal is going to look slightly different.
When we do get back to retail on a permanent basis, there’s going to be lots of competition for customers, and some of the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic might just play a part in setting innovative stores apart from the rest.
Adapting to the Environment
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen that things change very quickly during a pandemic.
One minute, it looks like everything’s heading in the right direction, and the next, everything has changed. This has meant a lot of uncertainty for physical stores.
These memories aren’t going to be easily forgotten, and even when retail returns to normal, things are still going to look very different,
Experiences Bringing People Back
E-commerce has filled a gap during the pandemic. With essential shops being closed, a huge number of people have embraced online shopping, and this is a worrying trend for brick-and-mortar retailers.
The fact is though, there are a lot of people out there who enjoy the physical shopping experience. Modern consumers value experience over almost anything else, and this is an area where retail shops can excel.
More and more retailers are embracing the idea of creating a unique experience for shoppers, and this is likely to pay off in the long run.
When you practice a certain behaviour for well over a year, it’s bound to leave a lasting impact. We’ve become accustomed to keeping our distance from people when out and about and this will likely change the way we interact for many years to come.
This might mean that we’re even more reluctant to stand in long queues than we already were.
Throw in the fact that many more people have experienced frictionless shopping online, and suddenly, standing in a line to pay for your goods looks less appealing than ever. To complement the shopping experience, retailers will be looking for innovative ways to make the payment process much quicker and easier for customers.
Click and Collect
There’s no ignoring the fact that an online presence is important for most retailers. So often though, the online sphere and the physical sphere seem to be working as completely separate entities.
To be successful, the physical and online stores need to work in unison and complement each other.
One example of this is click and collect. It allows customers to benefit from the convenience of buying online, while still being able to pick up their product without having to wait for shipping. With automated lockers, the shopper gets the best of both worlds, and this is just one example of how online and in-store can work together much more closely.
Customer service has long been a priority for retailers, but the pandemic might have changed the way some stores look at it.
To maintain social distancing, stores like Pandora, Selfridges, and Moss Bros introduced appointment booking for in-store visits, and it turns out people loved it. The level of specialized customer service this allowed stores to give was a big hit, and it might be something that continues even when distancing restrictions are eased.
Retail will bounce back, but inevitably, there will be changes.
E-commerce continues to have a big impact on retail, but what’s key for businesses is that they can blend the two experiences and make the most of the benefits of each one. One way to do this is by focusing on digital transformation to offer the customer the best possible experience.
At Meridian, we specialize in offering bespoke self-service options, and this has the potential to change the way retail operates for the better. Speak to us, and find out what steps you should be taking to take advantage of post-pandemic opportunities in retail.