The post-covid future in the retail sector is omnichannel
If the global pandemic caused by covid-19 has made something clear to us, it is that confinement has changed consumer behavior.
Given the impossibility of not leaving home but with the same needs (or even more, as a result of more free time to play sports, eat, cook …) electronic commerce has become the perfect ally to make purchases with just one click, without setting foot outside the home. At the same time, the industry suffered from the slowdown in economic activity.
The retail sector has been greatly affected by the coronavirus from different areas and perspectives: starting with the stoppage in industrial production and the drop in sales throughout the confinement, until the need to adapt factories and physical establishments implementing new measures of safety, hygiene, cleanliness and health. All of this, in turn, has led to the need for resilience to adapt to the new lifestyle.
As a result of the coronavirus, many brands and companies without an online presence have also been forced to start working on a digital strategy to survive these times of crisis that we have had to live through.
Taking into account that the user, throughout the purchase process, will go through different channels and forms of communication (online store, point of sale, email, etc.), omnichannel is an imperative for brands and to offer the best experience for clients.
With the COVID-19 comes a new consumer
In the retail sector, most companies have already gone through a digitization process, a fact that, without a doubt, despite the crisis they are experiencing, has allowed them to stay alive. But … what has the coronavirus caused or taught us in relation to the consumer?
This pandemic has changed our day to day and, therefore, the way of purchasing and decision making. Buying behavior has been altered to the point that we have a new consumer profile that, not only do they buy more online, something that has been going on for years, but they question their visit to stores unless they have a compelling reason . As long as the virus is present and there is no vaccine, visiting a physical store requires a series of precautions and involves some risks, and therefore many people prefer to buy online and receive orders at home.
Against this backdrop, companies must rethink their business strategy and renew it based on consumer preferences. Taking into account that the user, throughout the purchase process, will go through different channels and forms of communication (online store, point of sale, email, etc.), omnichannel is an imperative for brands and to offer the best experience for clients.
Other lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis
In addition to the fact that the consumer has changed and therefore the retail must also do so … The crisis caused by the coronavirus has left us some more lessons:
- Resilience: Toilet paper, flour, yeast, sports equipment … are some of the foods and products that have sold the most, to the point that companies are out of stock. This has made them realize the importance of having a rigorous control of the stock and reviewing their supply system in order to be resilient and have the ability to continue offering their products to the consumer.
- Home working: Although gradually companies around the world were increasingly conducive to facilitating work from home … the reality is that many were not prepared for it during the pandemic. Therefore, it is important that the retail sector has remote planning centers.
- Flexibility: As a result of previous lessons and changes in the consumer, we can say that flexibility is an essential feature in the future. In this sense, an alternative to facilitate sales and control the supply chain are known as dark stores, that is, physical establishments or distribution centers where only purchases made online are handled. The click & collect strategy will also be a trend.
How should the retail sector prepare for the future post-COVID19?
Businesses and companies that want to not only survive the coronavirus but also come out stronger … need to change their operations and execute their digital transformation and bet on omnichannel if they have not already done so. In this sense, from CAAD-Design, we want to offer you a series of recommendations that will help you to be omnichannel:
1. A new concept of store
We have discussed it previously, in addition to lower sales, the profile of the consumer has changed and, now, the buyer is more reluctant to visit the physical establishment. E-commerce has definitely won the race, but precisely for this reason, it is important to attract consumers to the store and make their experience unique and exclusive, for example, offering new products only in stores.
2. An omnichannel basis
In the new normal, we are asked to minimize contact to avoid new infections. In this context, features such as click & collect or street pickup are key. It is also important to have omnichannel communication and customer service, that is, that the team can interact and be an added value for the customer at any point in the purchase process, which, without a doubt, can also influence cross selling and online sales in general.
3. Self-service collection
As we have mentioned, many customers, due to the coronavirus, request greater protection in stores or services that do not require contact when picking up the order. In this sense, an alternative could be to implement self-service in the collection of orders purchased online but also to consult and check prices or even make a return of a product. It would be somewhat similar to a self-service cash register but adapted to collection and other moments in the purchase process.
Post-coronavirus retail design trends
After the analysis carried out on the post-coronavirus retail sector, at CAAD-Design we can talk about the following trends:
- Provoking a feeling of novelty: a return to the physical establishment is highly anticipated by customers.However, it is important that when the customer returns they have a feeling of novelty not only in the products, but also, for example, in the decoration, colors, etc.
- Stock control: we must not fall into the mistake of thinking that with the opening of stores the consumer will buy more than ever. Buying habits have changed and we are in a situation of economic crisis, therefore, it is advisable to invest in the necessary stock and not saturate the customer on their purchase journey.
- Immediate offers and discounts: it is important to rethink and update the sales strategy. Concepts such as coupons for future purchases will not be as effective, so it is important to build customer loyalty, for example, with immediate or short-term discounts, since many user decisions will be governed by criteria of immediacy.
The coronavirus has transformed consumer buying habits and fueled e-commerce. Therefore, the retail sector must start a process of transformation and adaptation to the new normality that we are living, betting on an omnichannel strategy and reinforcing its digitization to be able to attract consumers and offer them the best shopping experience. The pharma sector, for example, is one of those that embraces omnichannel and social selling to move forward after COVID-19.