As the world continues to battle the global pandemic, COVID-19, its effect of on economy, livelihood and healthcare has been the strongest in centuries. However, retail is one of the sectors most affected by COVID-19, in both positive and negative ways.
On one hand, grocery shops, pharmacies and a few e-commerce marketplaces are supplying essentials such as medicines, food and other everyday essential items to sustain businesses and retain customers. On the other hand, store closures and sharp declines in discretionary consumer spending have crippled nonessential retail (other non-food, apparel, fashion, and luxury products). Many retailers have already had to make tough choices, including temporarily or permanently closing doors, furloughing employees, and more. For instance, a report by the Retail Association of India (RAI) claims that India’s fashion retail industry is looking at reopening only 25 per cent of outlets after the lockdown is lifted.
According to a news story in The Economic Times, the losses for the retail industry alone have crossed $30 billion in the fortnight of lockdown. Taking into account the current scenario, the industry will take at least 6 months to get back on track in terms of cash inflows; but how many companies can survive this downfall for the next 6 months?
The situation has compelled the retail industry to strategise their move post-COVID-19 scenario and take the digital road. This is because the longer the crisis lasts, the greater the likelihood that online purchasing will become the next normal. In this scenario, retail apps are soon becoming the new destination for retailers to enlist themselves and sell conveniently.
Here are some of the factors contributing to the rise of Retail Apps post-COVID-19:
Safe and Healthy: Post COVID-19, even when the dust settles, there would still be unrest in the minds of the consumers. It would still be a while before the customers begin to flock to the markets and spend time shopping. In the meantime, these retail apps will help retailers to reach out the customers and enable them to find the things they need from the comfort and safety of their homes which is the biggest plus point in times where we need to maintain social distancing.
Targetted Approach to attract Customers: In these crucial times, retail apps provides communication and information to the customers to ensure that every trip made outside the house is useful and with purpose, which can only be done if they know what to buy and from where or order something from a retailer you know, ensuring safety for you and your loved ones.
Promotes Vocal-for-Local Initiative: These apps enlist retailers in multiple communities and areas to help customers find what they need and where exactly it is available. This ensures more business for local retailers contributing to the overall growth of their business and giving them a competitive advantage as the scarcity has given rise to newer local brands to retail themselves.
The flexibility of labour: The post COVID scenario has forced retailers to rethink resource allocation for a broader range of activities. Being enlisted on a retail app accelerate the move towards more agile and dynamic resourcing from stores to distribution centres to corporate offices. This model could driver newer collaborations with hiring part-time or daily wage labour pool to meet the demand.
Lesser marketing spends: Being present on retail apps will allow retailers to spend less on marketing and advertisements to attract walk-in customers. These apps allow the customer to find out the availability of goods with trusted retailers and enlightens them about special offers with different retailers. Therefore, retailers can spare a lesser budget for marketing and use it for other business operations.