10th Feb, 2022
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- The spread of the Omicron has dampened the path to recovery for retailers leading to restricted store openings and a slump in the footfalls
- Retailers must prioritize the health and safety of their field sales force and customers alike
- A strategic action plan must be built leveraging digital retail solutions to keep businesses secure from the impacts of the Omicron and other covid-19 variants in 2022
After a turbulent holiday season of 2020, retailers and customers alike pinned their hopes on a healthier and more typical holiday period for 2021. However, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, retailers are bracing the possibility of supply chain disruptions and labour shortages extending well into 2022. The recent rise of covid-19 cases poses downside risks to economic activity leading to reduced customer demands. Governments worldwide are already implementing lockdown-like measures to curb the spread of the new variant. This means that retail stores will again witness a slump in the walk-ins and increased emphasis on virtual customer interaction.
Retailers need to stay vigilant and innovate continuously to survive the ever-evolving new normal. They must prioritize the health and safety of their workforce and customers alike and get orders fulfilled despite the ongoing supply chain bottlenecks. Retailers who are capable of moving stocks quickly and sharing product visibility online will outlast the Omicron and future covid-19 variants. Despite this hopeful outlook, retailers must have a strategic action plan in place and be flexible as the situation changes. Here are some retail solutions that businesses must consider to prepare for Omicron disruptions:
#1 Support pandemic recoveryÂ
The health and safety of the workforce and customers must be prioritized above all else. As a part of the community, retailers are responsible for spreading awareness and supporting immunization. A few progressive brands set up pop clinics for vaccination of not only its promoters but also for walk-in customers. While not all retailers have such infrastructure, they can use their platform to support their customers, suppliers, and field sales force to get vaccines and booster jabs.
#2 Establish a digital-first approachÂ
The spread of the Omicron variant has led to the restricted opening of stores with limited manpower and customer intake. Regardless of the prevailing situation, retailers must embrace virtual retail solutions and connect physical retail to digital lifestyles. In-store operations must be digitized to deliver contactless and safer shopping experiences.
The rise in online orders will also require brands to increase emphasis on online customer service. With six out of ten digitally-native customers doing their online shopping through YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, retailers must ensure that purchasing and support are optimized across all online channels. Brands can also leverage a retail sales management tool to track and monitor sales activities across different digital channels. Businesses will have to stay on top of every retail trend to stay ahead of the competitorâs curve.
#3 Communication is keyÂ
As the situation on the ground evolves quickly, retailers must communicate regularly to keep their customers informed. They must make sure to leverage all channels to reach various demographics. They should update their website and e-commerce platform frequently to reflect changes such as delivery delays, store closures, stock information, and more. Communication is key to driving brand engagement at a time when customer loyalty is dwindling due to rising e-commerce competition from giants like Amazon and Walmart.
Additionally, read our latest retail blog â Adapting to New Retail Dynamics- Challenges & Trends in OEM and FMCG Sector â to get an insider scoop on future-forward strategies adopted by vanguard retailers to overcome the sales-sapping challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic.
#4 Prioritize order fulfilmentÂ
Though the holiday season is over, retailers can still expect regular customer demands across online and offline channels with the expectation of modern retailersâ rapid shipping. Unfortunately, supply chain bottlenecks and high demands have restricted a brandâs ability to provide speedy deliveries, with leading retailers suspending one-day delivery options for some time. On the other hand, some international brands have implemented creative retail solutions to alleviate this problem using cab services like Uber for local drop-offs.
Retailers must adopt multiple delivery options like buy online and pick up at the store (BOPIS) and curbside pickups. Additionally, brands can repurpose different store locations as distribution centres to help fulfil online orders or as a customer collection point. Smart deployment of tech-enabled supply chain mechanisms
#5 Lock in future spending
A tactical strategy actioned by smart retailers is to offer customers an exclusive discount with their orders that can be spent at a later date. This strategy can help entice customers and bring them back to stores for making a new purchase. Brands can also direct the shoppers online and offset the loss of footfalls if in-store services need to be shut down. Furthermore, they can track such customers through a robust retail sales management platform to get detailed insights about user behaviour and track the ROI.
The emergence of the Omicron variant is a clear indication that the pandemic is far from over. Retailers must build operational resilience to boost sales-forward amidst raging market disruptions. They must build a digitally-enabled store ecosystem to connect with wary customers and deliver safe and touchless shopping experiences. Also, they must develop supply chain resilience to prioritize order fulfilment in a start-stop market environment. The future of retail success will be defined by a retailerâs ability to provide hassle-free delivery along with easy payment options to make purchasing easy for consumers. Adopting smart retail solutions will help them overcome the challenges of the ever-evolving covid-restricted marketplace.
Contact us to know more about our tech-enabled retail solutions or book a free consultation with our experts to get advice on best-fit retail solutions to meet your unique business requirements