While optimism is in full swing and an uproar can be heard in the air, the retailers are now focused more than ever on bringing innovation and an exemplary standard to their business models around the globe. Embracing the change is an ultimate solution while being creative at redefining strategies to promote brands, products, and services
After staying stuck at homes and a substantial increase on screen time, audience is now more drawn to seamless customer experience. From outdoor events to drive thru experiences and promotional tactics to attract customers to buy in-store which would help retain brand loyalty, new normalcy has taken a sharp turn. The dynamics of retail industry has significantly changed after the last year.
To name one of the few, a representative from Warby Parker, an online retail company, in one of the interviews stated “We are opening more stores this year, which will look largely similar to our existing ones. But they’ll have some modifications – they may be a bit bigger to give customers the ability to spread out”. Fast food chains are also enhancing their drive-thrus to entertain customers outdoors even while the restrictions are slowly lifting.
In a broader perspective, hospitality industry is inclined to have interior designers do open-air furnishings for the crowd – the crowd which did not show up in a long time. From hotel lobbies to patios, an upgrade is foreseen on a massive scale. A recent study stated that the sports apparel and equipment saw a slight swank in their sales, thus proving the customers’ longing to breathe fresh air and move with a full gusto.
Airports where vaccination card would be the part of identity are building smart tunnels and touch free check-in systems. An elite style travel is on its way. Having said that, travellers would be expected to be at the airport far more hours before they check in than they used to do pre COVID-19. Needless to say, any advancement comes with its own baggage to carry. Most high-end airports have already started sanitization of luggage through UV light or fogging. But does all this come free of cost? Far from it. The passengers’ data protection remains at high risk as bio metrics in security lines would be needed to verify passengers’ identity. Travellers would be required to be more open to disclose their identity as compared to when they traveled in a conventional system.
While all the facts and figures demonstrate a healthy sign of enthusiasm and a noticeable difference has been gauged, the retail industry is working at the backend for a smooth transition from virtual world to physical realms. By no means, it would be an overnight transformation, but the foundations have been laid well. Along with the re-opening of physical stores, the digital investments are there to stay to speed up the processes. More stores are providing mobile apps to their customers to order online while the product can be picked in-store. Loyalty programs, Rewards, discounts to fully vaccinated customers to ensure their confidence while shopping in store and other approaches are being incorporated. So, to say, a collapse is needed for a new tower to build will not be an exaggeration. The business empire to be rebuilt was long due.
It does not end here. The concern arose in cautious retailers when the mandate lifted for mask restriction as there is no check and balance as to who is vaccinated. While contactless payments and touch free buying options are taking the world by storm, an awkward position for retailers remains as they stay unaware of the fact as to which unmasked customer is fully vaccinated. This calls for attention as technically, the stores should still require mask restriction and introduce certain policies for the comfort of the customers.
The changeover is not always easy. An aggravation would be the part of the process. Many policies would subside while new regulations would be enforced. Nevertheless, the new experiences would come with their own guidelines to stay updated. The path to recovery for retailers would be long and draining but with the right processes in place, a gradual success is not far.
As Customer Service has now become a catch phrase, big retail stores are now implementing big changes in their business models. Upgradation of their stores would be a task as customers in close proximity would still be prone to risk.
Looking forward to new vistas
With reservations of public in mind regarding health and safety, new technologies are in place. This would also contribute to continuous maintenance of cleanliness, proper equipment deployment and a better customer service. 2021 is still an extension to the year 2020, however, with the look of things, 2022 seems to bring with itself a better new horizon for the entire retail industry.