The coming 12 months pose challenges and opportunities for retailers. In the comments below, market observers offer advice for negotiating a shifting terrain:
"Retailers may want to re-engineer their operations in response to the changing market. “Business models are evolving. Consumers are now accustomed to buying through digital channels and it should not be assumed that they will return to their pre-COVID-19 shopping patterns completely. Retailers with no online or delivery channel will struggle to survive, which means that they need to expand their capabilities beyond just buying and selling products. They will need to either create their own online platform, or more likely, partner with online platform companies to provide fulfillment, home delivery and data analytics.” - Darcy Down, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Baker McKenzie.
"A changing market may require new metrics. “There are many new and actionable data points that retailers should be examining. Rather than worrying about whether a customer came in from a coupon or an ad, retailers need to be more concerned with conversion: Did the customer stick around long enough to join our club, or send us an order or leave us a review? Those are going to be the new metrics that are going to need to be added to the traditional KPIs.”
“The idea that a retailer has to wait for someone to walk in the door to make a sale is gone when you can use social and virtual selling. If someone's on your website, you can have a video pop up where you can interact with them and virtually put items in their cart. Rather than a matter of an online and offline multichannel, it's going to be more of a store that's connected to customers in all sorts of different ways. - Bob Phibbs, a retail consultant based in Coxsackie, N.Y.
"Engage more intimately with customers. There has been a lot of attention paid recently to ‘buy online and pick up in store,’ or BOPIS. Retailers may want to extend that idea to what I call ‘click and connect.’ Once the customer arrives, how can you improve their experience? You might invite them into the store to see something new that has just arrived. You can even offer them a mask if they have not brought their own.” - Anne Obarski, director of Merchandise Concepts, a retail consulting firm in Dublin, Ohio.