As retailers struggle with re-opening strategies it’s clear the new normal will be something we have never experienced. Consumers in many areas of the world have tightened their wallets and eliminated discretionary spending because of lost jobs, lower wages and uncertainty about how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last.
People are facing a retail landscape unlike any they have dealt with before. Toilet paper and cleaning supplies are out of stock, packages of chicken are being rationed, and shoppers who venture into stores are being told to leave their reusable bags at home. COVID-19 related shelter in place orders have either forced or prompted consumers to shop differently, often online for the first time, and this multi-generational event will likely shift the mindset of shoppers forever.
With that shift has come new "rules of engagement" for retailers. Here are a few of the trends we've seen emerge over the last few weeks and are likely to remain long after stay in place orders are lifted.
Nordstrom Announces Re-Opening Plan
Nordstrom has unveiled its plan to reopen its stores and offered a glimpse at how shopping at the mall will be different coming out of the coronavirus.
The company is starting new safety protocols, including conducting health screenings for all employees and providing face coverings for both employees and customers.
The retailer will be taking remedial steps to allow for social distancing of six feet or more, including limiting the number of employees and customers in the store at one time.
Also, Nordstrom will increase cleaning and sanitization, modify the fitting-room experience, and continue to offer contactless curbside services at selected Nordstrom stores, and pausing or adapting high-touch services and customer events.
Lastly, the store will be keeping tried-on or returned merchandise off the sales floor for a period of time and will alter store hours of operation.
The underlying challenge for all retailers is figuring a strategy to make this type of shopping experience a positive one. Improving the shopping experience has been a central focus for all retailers to attract customers over the last several years. With these new safety precautions in place making this new experience enjoyable may prove a monumental undertaking.
The Retail Industry May Be The Biggest Victim of Covid-19
Corona Virus may well be the death knell of the in-store retail market. It must be considered; why would people endure all these measures to go to the mall or department store. Limited shoppers, limited inventory and an uncomfortable experience is not likely something shoppers will endure. Certainly not in the long term.
It's important for retailers to revisit, revise and integrate their digital strategy across the enterprise and to have a unified data platform that allows them to adjust as consumer expectations shift week-to-week, and even day-to-day. Mastering their business-critical information in a master data management solution will help retailers advance their digital capabilities in an increasingly digital retail landscape, which, in turn, will help better serve today's shoppers. Online shopping, virtual fitting rooms and a liberal return policy is likely the plan to eventually emerge given the current environment.
Those retailers embracing digital transformation from marketing to delivery will likely be the ones that come out on top once stay-in-place orders and the COVID-19 crisis have subsided. Start preparing now by taking a deep dive into your operational, product and customer data and use that information to roll out the best products, and pick-up options, for your store.
Wal-Mart is Capitalizing on the Corona Fallout
Company officials explained the plans for Express Delivery, which offers delivery options for more than 160,000 items from the company’s food, consumables, and general merchandise offerings. The program is being accelerated in the wake of the coronavirus, with the service going through a pilot program in 100 Walmart stores going back to mid-April, with plans for it to expand to almost 1,000 stores early this month and then in almost 2,000 stores in the weeks following.
Regardless of the urgency or actual need, this movement of quicker and quicker e-commerce delivery turnaround is not going away anytime soon, to say the least. This move by Walmart, which was spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to better compete and keep up with Amazon, clearly shows that.
Stay Safe Everyone.
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