COVID-19 has dramatically altered the retail landscape and it’s clear its impacts will last long after the stay at home orders cease. Living with this new “normal” has created unexpected stress on the retail industry as a whole and shown critical areas retailers will need to improve moving forward. While news of the impacts of COVID-19 on ecommerce & retail is breaking daily, here’s the 4 major changes we’ve seen in the industry:
1. Acceleration of omnichannel : Changes in omnichannel integration that would have taken years occurred in just a few weeks. Retailers who have been successful are rapidly making adjustments to their business model through curbside pickup, BOPIS, mobile integration, and driving sales online. Many businesses were not ready for these changes and it will be critical to build in these capabilities moving forward. Retailers can expect these changes to stay a part of consumer behavior post COVID. Businesses should look to expand and fine tune these channels if they haven’t already.
2. Breakdown of supply chain: COVID has tested the supply chains of even the strongest retailers. It has become clear there are inefficiencies in the supply chains of big box retailers and DTC brands alike. While no one could predict the massive shift in demand, moving forward retailers need to be adaptable and pivot products and offerings to meet consumer demand. Retailers will need to consider diversifying suppliers to meet demand across multiple channels as well as expand their digital teams to improve the online experience.
3. WFH becoming normal: COVID has pushed work online and shown employers that people can be productive from the comfort of their home. With large companies like Twitter announcing permanent WFH, retailers should consider how this would look for their business. Specifically within the retail space, there is an opportunity to move digital and customer service functions completely online. WFH will look different for every retailer, but shorter work weeks could cut costs and increase employee morale and productivity.
4. Shuttering of stores and consolidation of the industry: US retailers had too much real estate and thousands of stores will remain closed for good post COVID. With major retailers filing for bankruptcy and others announcing store closures, the industry will look smaller coming out of COVID. This is not necessarily a bad thing as retailers can focus on driving sales in their top performing stores and honing their online strategy.
COVID-19 is pushing the retail industry to innovate faster and the bg players already doing these things and savvy DTC/omni channel brands will be the ones to come out on top.