How would Omnichannel Retail transform post Covid – 19
12 May 2020 How would Omnichannel Retail transform post Covid – 19
Businesses are going through fundamental transformation post the current Pandemic. Across the globe, stores selling non-essential goods are suffering. Once the crisis subsides, there are temptations to re-open the stores as quickly as possible. But early indications suggest that some retailers may want to be more patient in the current scenario.
If brick and mortar stores were to disappear across the world at the current rate, what would it mean for the current omnichannel model to survive, or should retailers prepare for something entirely different? No, it’s not all doom.
Both sides of the coin
It’s important to note that while some corners of retail have suffered, others are resisting or at least trying to bounce back. Following the outbreak, half of the industry saw an unprecedented and immediate surge in demand in the initial weeks of the crisis, particularly in the essential segments such as groceries and medicine. The other half- including fashion, luxury and beauty – saw demand plunge following the implementation of restrictive public health measures meaning stores – and in some cases online fulfilment centres – had to close.
However, gradual relaxation of lockdown has meant that online delivery of non-essential are now allowed in Orange and Green zones which also creates an opportunity for retailers to revive their business slowly but surely.
Omnichannel Saves the sales
We have also witnessed retailers face the reality of what it means to have no eCommerce operation to revert to when stores are shut.If one thing has been proved, it’s that omnichannel, supported by agile, unified commerce systems can help a retailer adapt to unexpected market forces.
Operating multiple channels to market will help a retailer in minimizing the spread of risk and keep channels of communication open to their customers. As consumers have become accustomed to online shopping during the current lockdown, there may even be a partial and permanent shift to online shopping habits post – pandemic, but there will always be a need for meaningful ‘real-world’ experience that only physical stores can offer. We need to be cognizant of the fact that most retailers aren’t set up for such a drastic move to online-only retail – as has proven to be the case these last few weeks – and nor does the consumer wants it. In this sense, tomorrow’s retail model will remain omnichannel.
Consumer still looks for multiple choices
The dominant view is that customers will once again expect to shop anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Naturally, there will be an adjustment period once lockdown is lifted and strict social distancing rules come into play. Consumers themselves will certainly be cautious about coming into close proximity to others. This means that, more than ever before, shoppers wouldn’t want to wait in queues or look for minimum physical touch within the store, which makes it imperative for retailers to transform their in-store digital technology. This transformation needs to happen towards the adoption of contactless product discovery and purchase, payment and delivery. Stores that survive will fill the shoppers looking for the same experiential shopping journeys, frictionless service and personalization that they sought before the virus took hold.
There will be fewer stores after the current crisis subsides, and some chains already in difficulty won’t survive. But having the option to enjoy the blend of offline and online will continue to be a huge consumer drive. Rather than say that Covid-19 is the retail apocalypse that has been predicted in recent years, it will actually be a catalyst for store resurgence when normal life and all its freedom return. In fact, many believe the crisis will drive a much-needed change in the retailer/ rental relationship and uphold the real value that stores brings to the ecosystem. This is great news for those championing the omnichannel model.
Resurgent shoppers will want the best of experience
There is no doubt about the fact that stores landscape will look different after the Pandemic ends. However, while retailers continue to explore just how many stores, they need in all Omnichannel World, our much-loved physical stores will not disappear. Instead, they will continue to evolve far more rapidly, improving their omnichannel service such as Ship from Store, Click and Collect, Buy online pick up at the store, to satisfy resurgent shoppers in the changing retail environment.
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