The retail industry experienced accelerated e-commerce growth during the pandemic but in the long run, there are many upcoming changes.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the changes in lifestyle and consumer spending habits are already reflecting in online purchase demand. Previously, we have discussed how customer behavior has changed in the hard times of the pandemic in one of our posts. Sixty percent of customers are currently visiting brick-and-mortar stores less than before the pandemic, and 43% shop more often online for products they would have previously bought in stores. According to GWI, approximately 48% of customers will continue shopping online more frequently after the outbreak. One of the most significant effects of the pandemic is the realization that geographical location has become less relevant — so long as there’s an internet connection.
During the crisis, many companies were able to modify their e-commerce interface capabilities but struggled to adapt their logistics to support the high demand.
Stores as Fulfillment Centers
Customers are wanting fulfillment in immediacy, convenience, and simplicity. Fulfillment can be turned into a competitive advantage by placing inventory closer to customers, automating returns, and offering flexible options like a curbside pickup. As services scale, so must retailers’ ability to deliver a consistent experience.
Technology and e-commerce have shaken hands to create next-level immersive experiences for customers. Experiential e-commerce is a customer-centric strategy that reinforces the bond between consumers and the brand through a virtual shopping experience. The challenge for brands is to make the shopping experience as delightful as efficient. This can be done through frictionless payments, personalized and interactive experiences, omnichannel innovation.
Frictionless payments are the future, fintech companies are doing their level best for advancements in contactless payments. Similarly, big data and predictive analytics are leveraged for personalizing customer experiences. Augmented reality is being used to make the shopping process rich and easily available at home.
Here’s an example of experiential e-commerce we discussed in our previous post, Ikea, furniture retail that made its way to the top.
With the fast pace of change in the post-pandemic environment, retailers are forced to continually reassess their strategies. This approach requires more real-time insights on customers as well as a new agile operating model to utilize these insights and implement them. Before the pandemic, digital leaders were using data to optimize customer experience, gauge satisfaction, identify foot traffic trends, and generate purchase recommendations.
In addition, as retailers reformulate their customer experience, they should use valuable feedback from their customers. This can be achieved by bringing customers into the design process as ideas develop, and eliminate risk for the initiatives along the way. Qualitative feedback can be gathered through online tools or in-person concept sprints so ideas can be analyzed and iteratively improved.
By acquiring agile practices alongside the generation of instantaneous consumer insights, retailers can more quickly recalibrate their business model and offerings to meet consumer expectations. Retailers need to raise their efficiency—that is, the speed at which they process information and develop new offerings. The pace at which some retailers have been able to stand up new omnichannel models shows what a truly agile operating model can unleash. A rapid approach to tests and trials can enable retailers to launch offerings at scale more quickly and avoid losing share in the face of shifting consumer behavior.
Unlocking the future of retail means phygital innovation that allows consumers to buy anywhere they shop, try on products virtually with the use of technology, and engineering virtual versions of retail shopping experiences.
Shriya Madan, an ardent learner, a digital enthusiast, aspires to make an impact in the real world with the power of technology
Pranjali Apurva, driven by curiosity, converging design principles with digital transformation