This article is part of Raydiant’s Re-opening of Brick and Mortar series which interviews top retail industry experts to better understand the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the sector, how retailers should prepare for the re-opening and what trends, challenges and changes are expected over the next few months.
The following is an interview we had with Charu Thomas, Founder at Oculogx.
What will the re-opening of retail look like?
CT: Many retailers have already taken huge steps to promote social distancing and sanitation, and many of those initiatives will continue for quite a while into the future. Many retailers have also opted to build or continue growing their BOPIS and eCommerce presences. When retail stores open back up again, those BOPIS/eCommerce services will continue to thrive.
What should retailers be doing now to prepare for the re-opening?
CT: Retailers should take this time to re-think their digital footprint and presence. The faster you can get your BOPIS offerings up-and-running, the better off you are in serving customers. It’s important–more than ever–to think about how to leverage stores as micro-distribution points for eCommerce operations. Omnichannel used to be a buzzword, but it’s becoming a necessity more than anything.
How will COVID-19 impact consumer behavior over the long term?
CT: Discretionary spending already dropped drastically, and I foresee a difficult time ahead for D2C brands. Grocery delivery companies have seen incredible growth in operation, and that trend will continue post-pandemic as these services offer time savings and convenience.
What will be the lasting effects of COVID-19 on brick and mortar retail?
CT: Brick and mortar retail has already been forever impacted by COVID-19. Going forward, retailers will be forced to rethink their footprint or perish. How can you re-use inventory in as many locations as possible? What technologies can you use to support operations like curbside pickup? Making operations more efficient has a huge impact in your ability to serve as many customers as possible.
What retail technologies will see adoption accelerated due to COVID-19?
CT: Wearable technology, AI, Augmented Reality, Cloud-based technology, Micro-fulfillment and more will all see accelerated adoption. Anything that can help retailers’ digital strategy quickly will be prioritized.