Better at home
‘As multichannel success and shopping preferences have changed forever, it seems we are to have more technological achievements. Starting with expanding the self-service system, digital loyalty programs, online orders, and home delivery to digitized shelves and personalized offers, shopping will find its way into other spheres as well and in many cases innovations will be implemented in a new way’, - Loran Gutt, Vice-President of Corporate Development at Bazaarvoice, Inc.
With the appearance of COVID-19 people didn’t begin to purchase less, they do their shopping differently, though. Now, besides the ideal store improvement, a brand has to ensure a convenient transit from online into offline.
The second increasing requirement to the retailers this year is constant contact with a client. It should be performed in the most convenient way for the customer, i.e. chat-bots, messengers, phone consultations. Not only global leaders such as Amazon and LVMH but some local companies are involved in this experiment.
Also, the growing need for retailers to hire web developers is important. Everyone needs content, and the more interesting and tempting it is, the more success the brand is going to have. So, the game developers were on the velvet in 2020.
One more potential growing point for retail is the improvement of the delivery quality. For instance, Amazon and Kohl have joined their forces to improve the quality of customers’ service and decrease the number of problems connected with the return of goods. Some retailers have re-equipped their shops and warehouses and mainly deal with online orders now.
Considering that currently shops and malls in Europe either work limited time with fewer employees available or are even closed, the sales decrease is not traced. According to Ceconomy data (parent company of Media Markt and Saturn) provided this October, the increase of sales in operating countries hasn’t dropped, but in opposite continued growth regardless of the tightening of social distancing measures amid the pandemic.
The representatives of the company explained that they achieved these results due to increased attention to online retail and a long promotion period before the holidays. For example, their Christmas and New Year sales have started way before the beginning of December as it used to be.
Rise of the robots
Artificial intelligence is a way to change a usual shop into a place where the customer is ‘recognized by sight’ so to say. The technology allows us to completely track the customer’s path, get to know his needs and preferences, make contactless payments, which comes in handy during the pandemic. From another side the implementation of AI allows the sellers to provide more personalized recommendations while choosing the product and a brand can develop considering the local needs of the client.
The optimization of manual labor is the way to success. For this purpose, robots are a logical choice. They can carry out the inventory online, both at the warehouses, and shops. Besides, the involvement of robots will decrease the number of human mistakes and increase efficiency for the brand. This approach is successfully operating in Walmart.
Technologies can also ease the observation of sanitary norms. Mobile technologies help to keep the selling area clean and UV-lamps provide constant disinfection.
Social distancing requirements oblige retailers to take appropriate measures. The extension of the retail space area, reducing queues and touchpoints are all complex but necessary tasks where technology also helps. Portable self-service stalls with contactless payment, for example, are one of the most practical ways to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Let’s take a look at the numbers
Unfortunately, not all retail branches were able to adapt to the current situation without loss. Among companies working in the segment of trade in goods that are not on the list of the primary commodities, there was a spike in major bankruptcies.
As it became known on November 12, 2020, Accenture issued the report called ‘How will COVID-19 change the retail consumer?’: 9 thousand consumers worldwide were surveyed to find out expectations and preferences from companies and brands after the pandemic. According to the survey, the overwhelming majority 78% stated that their priority is health, 45% aren’t ready to leave the house and prefer shopping online.
Accenture research data shows that as of November 2020, 54% of the consumers use contactless payment, 54% use apps to buy goods, 47% use home delivery, and 44% use social media. So, what do retailers need?
- Ensure social distancing, zone shops, disinfect premises, and limit the number of customers in the shop;
- Provide the employees with the necessary means of protection and technologies to maintain sanitary standards;
- Have a clear understanding of the spread of the virus and consumer expectations;
- Provide opportunities for digital shopping.
Coronavirus has influenced people’s shopping preferences. Now the convenience, mobility, and safety of purchases are in vogue. According to the survey the majority of people assessed the benefits of online-shopping and continue to use this way even though the shops had been opened.