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 Victoria Peppiatt, co-founder and COO of Phrasee.
What will the re-opening of brick and mortar retail look like?
VP: It’s clear that the retail industry will never be the same again.
Everything has changed, whether it is the abrupt digitalization of experiences, the consumer behavior shift towards social distancing and restricted living, or the ecommerce growth versus in-store footfall decline. Retailers will need to embrace new approaches and technologies in order to have an opportunity to earn customer loyalty in the short term and stand-out from the crowd in the marketing ramp-up. Now is not the time for average marketing, brands will need to think differently as to how they adapt to the “new normal” and how their marketing resonates with their audience over competitors.
What should retailers be doing now to prepare for the re-opening?
VP: As lockdown starts to lift, businesses around the world will begin the race to get ahead in the marketing ramp-up and technology will play a crucial role in enabling this. Now is the time to dial up tech investments to amplify digital, be willing to try new things and test out new strategies to stay competitive in the current ever-changing landscape. Crucially, now is the time to reach out to trusted partners who are there to augment digital and can help you steer your brand on a path to long-term success.
How will COVID-19 impact consumer behavior over the long term?
VP: The way brands behave now, and in the near future, will determine the way consumers view them for the long-term. Customers are likely to respond negatively to brands that are insensitive to their concerns. Ultimately, messaging needs to be authentic to maintain customer-brand relationships now and to create long-term brand loyalty.
What will be the lasting effects of COVID-19 on brick and mortar retail?
VP: Technology will be the deciding factor in the brands that come out as the winners in this crisis. Brick and mortar stores will not be able to rest on their laurels and instead will need to look towards the digital-first for inspiration. I would recommend they focus on building a strong ecommerce infrastructure as well as creating the digital strategies that will allow them to react quickly to future changes and protect them in the long run.
What retail technologies will see adoption accelerated due to COVID-19?
VP: It is time for retail brands to seek solutions that will drive immediate impact. Sometimes, rolling new technologies out can require enormous change to business processes, infrastructure, budgets and teams. In this case, the tech-savvy brands will be the ones to find quick AI wins which are easy to use and quick to implement. They will be the brands that come out on top.