How to thrive in the retail trading landscape post-COVID

The lasting impact of COVID-19 is – and will continue to – impact footfall rates and revenue streams in the retail sector. Amid ‘shop local’ campaigns and the return to offices, gathering updated data on core customers should be the number one priority for retail executives. 

Much has been written on the changes that COVID-19 has forced upon the retail sector and the importance of reacting to the new customer shopping habits like online shopping and on-demand delivery. One important area has remained relatively unaddressed, though. Who are the people still visiting retail locations? Most of the retail customer data points available come from before the pandemic. That means its accuracy is questionable at best and irrelevant at worst. 

Insights from the retail sector

While updated customer data is scarce, there are a few trends that are manifesting in the retail space. Retail footfall is down 20% compared to 2019 levels, and that means retailers are forced to rely on higher conversion rates to maintain profitability.

In part due to reduced footfall, retail sales saw a 1.9% decrease in 2020 with trends suggesting that this trend will continue into 2021. Data from the U.K. seems to indicate that these losses are primarily fuelled by national lockdowns and a societal shift to online shopping. While we can’t know for certain, studies suggest that health and safety concerns will keep many customers away from retail locations even as lockdowns are lifted.

While this data does outline a significant obstacle for retailers, it is by no means an insurmountable one. Retailers need to find innovative ways to adapt to their new conditions.

Adaptability is key

In the post-COVID retail landscape, the ability to adapt is a prerequisite for sustainable success. According to Tom Clark of Alertiee:

“The thing about retail is that it’s incredibly fluid. Executives need to be able to react to changes in the world and customer makeup quickly. The key here is agility – your business model and board need to be able to mesh with new technologies and solutions that help overcome challenges, enhance operations, and increase efficiency as quickly as you find them.”

T. Clark, Alertiee

Technologies that supplement and enhance retail operations are crucial tools for adapting to changes quickly.

Innovation is the answer

In today’s retail sector, manually reporting information from the sales floor back to head offices is insufficient to address the industry’s problems. For starters, the process takes too long. The speed at which new data can be collected analysed and actioned matters.

On top of this, manual reporting is a blunt instrument that doesn’t provide the kind of comprehensive data that allows for operational optimization and creating a personalised experience for customers.

That’s where new technologies come in. Thanks to innovation in IoT technologies, AI, and cloud computing, retailers can implement systems that automatically track and analyse everything from customer movement patterns to inventory. Using this data they can generate robust reports that help executives make optimal decisions for growth and longevity.

A commitment on the part of CEOs, executives, and board members to look closely at the innovative technologies available to them will allow retail to survive and thrive in a post-COVID landscape.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out The Future of Retail: How to Future Proof Your Business In The New Norm Ebook.

Proven benefits of Alertiee technology

Alertiee will help you realise missing sales opportunities, stores’ performance based on conversion rate, and stores’ sales hotspots areas.

We support and guide you through how you best convert both inside and outside traffic opportunities by supplying you with options around service risks and how to serve your existing and potential new customers best.

Alertiee will help you to provide a harmonious customer experience across your omnichannel business. Our technology enables customer experience, marketing and retail teams to close the gap between customers’ digital experience and their physical experience.

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Sahand Malek