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The Pandemic Is Rewriting The Rules Of Retail

There is a new normal when it comes to traditional retail brick and mortar

Retailers need to stop expecting business to return to “normal.”  There’s no going back to how it was anytime soon. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, brick-and-mortar retailers had been fighting a fierce battle against Amazon and other e-commerce players. Those challenges have now accelerated at staggering speed.

The latest data from McKinsey shows that consumers are likely to keep the behaviors they’ve adopted amid stay-at-home orders, such as more online shopping and fewer mall visits.  Retailers can’t afford to be in a wait-and-see mode. First, they need to reimagine their baseline requirements and then turn their attention to taking their customer experience to the next level.

A New Baseline

To start, retailers have to adapt their brick-and-mortar operations to comply with health-and-safety regulations and meet basic customer expectations. This includes mask-wearing, ensuring physical distancing, and controlling the number of employees and customers in stores, instituting contactless transactions, improving speed of service, and introducing more self-service options.

Retailers also need to offer a simple and seamless e-commerce experience — from browsing to researching, selecting, purchasing, and returning/exchanging. Customers will no longer tolerate sub-par digital shopping experiences like they may have before the crisis.  Retailers have to make sure their sites are mobile-responsive, offer integrated services such as “buy online pick up in store” (BOPIS), and deliver a consistent, reliable digital experience across devices and channels.

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