How Covid-19 Pandemic made the Retail Industry Stronger?

Technology | 2 minutes to read

10th Nov, 2021

The retail environment post-covid is about being digital-ready, creating integrated buying experiences, leveraging retail analytics and automation infrastructure to march ahead in the future. The retail industry is witnessing positive, life-affirming transformations to upgrade and adapt businesses against future disruptions.

Snapshot:

    • The covid-19 challenges made digital transformation efforts look a bit more pressing to power ahead and stay afloat in the market

    • Digitized customer relationships have given retailers access to substantial customer data for personalized experiences through targeted visual merchandising and retail activations

    • Implementing a 360-degree retail audit mechanism will create a compliant and integrated store ecosystem for convenient shopping experience

    Retailers were slowly headed towards becoming irrelevant, roadkill for e-commerce giants like Amazon, Walmart before the covid-19 pandemic. Then the covid-19 pandemic struck, introducing unique challenges for the brick-and-mortar retail stores. These challenges made digital transformation efforts look a bit more pressing. Digital sales swelled, contactless delivery models emerged, and curbside pickup and store fulfilment turned out to be the omnichannel staples amidst stay-at-home orders.

    Fast forward to the present day, and retailers are slowly coming to grip with the new market realities. Today’s retail environment is about being digital-ready, creating integrated buying experiences, leveraging retail analytics, building cloud infrastructure, and putting up a strong fight against e-commerce giants. With much of the population being double vaccinated, even the in-store foot traffic is gradually on the rise. With once in a lifetime market crisis put to the ground, retailers can leverage the transformations and learnings from the last 18 months to power ahead and emerge stronger than ever before.

    Digitalized buying channels bring data opportunities

    The pandemic has made it compulsory for retailers to open up digital sales channels and digitize their customer relationships. As customers worldwide were wary of in-store shopping, they created digital accounts to conveniently shop online. Even the traditional non-digitized retail stores like groceries and household retail saw an increase in their online customer base by 30% in 2020 through virtual retail solutions.

    The increase in digital customer interactions implies that retailers now have access to a huge amount of customer data, including demographics, preferences, purchase propensity, and financial information. This data will help retailers get better insights into customer needs, capitalize on online commerce, and real-time tracking of conversions and customer shopping patterns over time. Furthermore, accurate business intelligence derived from data points will help drive loyalty, trust, and engagement. It can be achieved through personalized experiences, targeted visual merchandising, and retail activations.

    Newfound love for convenience opens the doors for more consumers

    The pandemic turned consumer behavior on its head, washing away long-standing loyalty and relationships that brands took years to build. The closure of physical stores drove customers to try out new brands and alternate shopping models. Since pandemic, the convenience of shopping and product availability are the two major drivers of customers’ decisions on where to shop. This gives the retailers an opportunity to expand their customer base by streamlining their day-to-day store operations.

    Embracing a 360-degree retail audit mechanism to maintain store hygiene, real-time tracking of in-store operations, and improving workforce efficiency will create an integrated store environment for convenient shopping. Additionally, extending curbside pickup, virtual sales assistants, BOPIS, and digital try-on will drive flexibility and convenience for customers who don’t want to visit the store. Stores could maintain adequate stock levels and optimize delivery times through digitally-enabled retail audit and compliance mechanisms. While these might seem like reactionary measures, retailers must incorporate these services into their long-term strategies to meet the evolving customer expectations.

    Learn how Denave empowered a leading global technology company to achieve maximum in-store productivity compliance & sales improvement in 550+ stores across 52 cities in India. Read the full success story here.

    Cloud-based retail automation infrastructure makes businesses more adaptable

    Not only did customers evolved with where and how they shop, but also what they shop. For example, lockdown measures increased the sale of FMCG products and forced a decline in items like electronics and appliances. The scale of shift witnessed during the pandemic highlighted the importance of being flexible and quickly identifying the changes to adapt accordingly.

    From inventories and planogram automation to workforce tracking and hygiene management, retail automation solutions cut costs, reduce manual workload, and prioritize sales functions. Centralized retail management software with built-in BI analytics and smart auditor features tracks and analyzes data for better decision making. Going forward, these technologies will help identify shifting patterns and optimize operations to create standout customer experiences.

    Making the best out of a black swan situation

    The pandemic imposed fatal challenges upon the retail industry last year, but it also created a sense of urgency among the stakeholders to adapt and transform their businesses for a better future. While the present health crisis is a black swan incident, other changes such as evolving customer expectations and technological advancements are inevitable. Embracing a digital-first approach along with technology infrastructure will improve operational efficiencies in the retail business. It will also allow for more agile in-store operations to usher in the next-gen retail.

    Additionally, read our whitepaper “Understanding Challenges and Identifying Opportunities to Enable Breakthrough Solutions for Retail Success in 2021 and Beyond” to get ground reality on market challenges, identify emerging trends and future-forward solutions to enable modern-day retail. Download the report now!

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