The effect of COVID-19 on the retail sector:
The retail industry has been growing over the past five years pre-pandemic, according to various reports. However, since 2015 there has been increasing pressure on the sector, with a major shift from physical to virtual retailing.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 these trends have seen an acceleration. Online retail increased by 52.2% in December 2020 as Britons shopped from home, while tighter restrictions led to in-store retail declining 8.3%.
Why this is still relevant in 2021
Shops are now reopening in the UK, however many studies suggest that changes in retail and online shopping are here to stay. Many people want to continue shopping online and continue to shop locally while working from home.
Established retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have both revealed plans to downsize their stores in towns and city centres.
High street shops need to be reinvented to attract people. Store layouts will need a more seamless journey to improve the customer experience, while social distancing measures and queues will continue to remind us all of the pandemic.
In order to avoid the fate of department stores like Debenhams, Fabio Persico (Senior Consultant and MuleSoft Practice Lead at makepositive), suggests that retailers should focus on their customer shopping experience by creating a joyous and positive atmosphere when welcoming customers back through the door, and at the same time further invest in digital experiences in order to succeed.
Agile Integration is the key to a customer’s online and in store experience
When a customer enters your physical store for the first time or visits your website, this is the start of your relationship with them. You need to look after them and find ways to keep them engaged and active. It’s not a good strategy anymore to send transactional emails and then add customers to your standard email campaigns.
We know consumers today want an omni-channel experience with seamless service between the different communication methods. As the number of channels increases, so does the need for a seamless integration from one touchpoint to another – a social ad, an email newsletter, a mobile push notification, a conversion with your chatbot or a face-to-face chat with your store staff. The customer needs to feel empowered to interact with a company in a way that feels natural to them.
How we can help
At makepositive we can help you rapidly respond to market changes in the retail sector:
- Customer Omni-channel – Shoppers now expect to purchase products and services across a variety of marketplaces. To meet this demand, retailers must offer real omni-channel experiences across different channels, though many do not yet have the ability to do so due to data silos and disconnected systems.
- Fragmented or disconnected systems – Organisations need to have the capacity to respond to shifting customer needs, develop innovative products and bring them to market quickly. Many organisations do not have an infrastructure that supports cross-functional systems, making it difficult for them to achieve these goals.
- Access and use actionable insight from your data – Retailers need a solution that enables them to access a broad range of data sources. To unlock valuable insights, data must be collected, harmonised, cleansed, and stored. The appropriate AI tools can then be leveraged to extract actionable insights that will drive your approach for pricing or digital engagement strategies, and become proactive rather than reactive.
At makepositive our experts have built a set of E-commerce accelerators, including a
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud accelerator supporting the common use cases for Product, Price, Inventory, and Order
Our next blog will explain more about the accelerators we have created. In the meantime please get in touch with [email protected] for more information.