With COVID-19 changing the consumer sentiment and lifestyle, it has also hastened the adaptation of technology in this industry. Being digital and having a robust backend isn't optional anymore for any retailer. Every retailer is adopting digital ways at a much faster pace and is investing in technology to improve the quality of service. We expect this fast-paced digitalization to open new opportunities and drive change in the sector.
Pandemic has accelerated health concerns and has compelled people to live differently, think differently, and in many ways buy differently. Consumers are looking at products and brands through a new lens.
With the coming age, technology will drive revolution going forward and retailers must invest in tech infrastructure and work towards improving their facilities. This crisis has forced retailers to think out of the box and move towards contactless experiences from check-out free to touch-free shopping, merchandising to transactions, technology will accelerate the industry reducing physical interaction. Retailers should look at permanent technological innovation in the form of apps, automated replenishments, electronic rewards programs, crowd control measures, contactless shopping, and touchless technology.
A report by KPMG highlights a few key aspects, which retailers should consider post the Covid-19 scenario for better performance in this new reality. These include increasing impetus on localization, Phygital, and using digital technologies to the maximum. Retailers and consumer brands should keep these strategies in mind as 2021 kicks off:
- Go Contactless: 2021 is the year where we will continue to see changes across segments. With digitalization being the key to success, retailers have started looking at innovative ways of improving sales and actively trying to sustain customer gains and continuity to expand based on consumer's digital footprint as well.
- Manage Supply Constraints: While some retailers are seeing demand fall away and customers shift channels, others are facing unprecedented spikes in demand. To curb these, retailers must keep a tab on the supply chain as and when required. Retailers should have open communication lines with their key suppliers to assess their risks, identify any indirect exposures and create contingency plans.
- Prepare for the Long Haul: Apart from enhancing their presence digitally, there is also scope for retailers to leverage strategies, like in-store operations including virtual reality, enabled trial room experiences, live displays of stock being available, click and collect, etc. Shoring up customer relationships and maintaining brand loyalty will be crucial and imperative. Retailers could look at experimenting with different feasible forms of media to stay connected with customers and build on trust. Retailers should also consider modifying their supply chains and develop capacities to plan inventories and logistics to meet fluctuations in demand.
As the transformation leads to something completely new, to manage supply chains or building a social presence to communicate with your customers, the COVID-19 era has introduced an opportunity. For the weeks to come, we should aim to restructure and revamp our revival growth strategy to align with our goals for this year.
The retail sector has almost got back to ‘business as usual’.Further, to mitigate the disruption caused by this crisis, Indian retailers will need to devise strategies for the “now”, “next” and “beyond”. While they need to manage their costs through operational improvement and by valuating the shop portfolio.
2021 shall be a beacon of hope for retailers and consumer brands as we move forward this new year.