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How Retailers Can Survive and Thrive in the ‘New Normal’

Posted by mett iwish on
How Retailers Can Survive and Thrive in the ‘New Normal’
Meanwhile, some analysts say that the coming months and years will be a case of the "survival of the fittest," with the strong retailers becoming stronger and moving ahead and the smaller businesses closing. How can your business thrive under the new reality?

COVID-19 sent mall shopping to a screeching halt as governments worldwide ordered nationwide lockdowns amid the pandemic. Some operators suffered heavy losses and were forced to either close certain outlets or shut down altogether. Amid dire forecasts that malls will eventually disappear due to the pandemic and that online shopping will takeover, retailers are providing new shopping solutions to give their clients reasons to visit their physical stores again, proving that they haven't given up just yet.


 What Are Shoppers Looking For?

Nationwide lockdowns, business shutdowns, and lay-offs have changed the buying preferences of people. Capgemini Research Institute's (CRI) most recent international consumer survey shows that personal care products, groceries, and home-based entertainment are currently the top expenditures of about 30% of consumers worldwide. Respondents reportedly plan to forego or spend less on luxury items in the coming six to nine months. Inventory of apparel and sports goods may stay stagnant for months to come.

Answers to the CRI poll indicated the traits of businesses that are likely to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 crisis. Enterprises will reportedly survive if they address three of the shoppers' most pressing demands:


·  Convenient shopping process

Shopping as we had known it was a favorite pastime pre-COVID-19. But the pandemic and the duration of the lockdowns changed that, turning many consumers to online shoppers. Stay-at-home orders accelerated delivery and pick-up ideas (such contactless delivery, click and collect, and curbside pickup) that retailers with e-commerce operations already had in mind or started before the pandemic. USA's Walmart and Target and Australia's Woolworths launched such deliveries between 2017 and 2018.

For your business to survive under the "new normal," you'll need to accept this change in buyers' behavior and boost your Internet presence. Get artistic about displaying your inventory online and providing virtual "try-ons," like what some eyewear, cosmetics, and shoe brands currently offer. You can create a short audio or video clip using your smartphone and a voice amplifier or wireless mic to communicate these new features on your website.

Some retailers have introduced apps that allow customers to schedule in-person appointments. They can then visit the physical stores at a particular time slot without fear of mingling with too many people. Enliven your customer's in-store experience by providing music you can amplify via Bluetooth speaker or other sound systemsSound equipment may also be helpful when you have to make a general announcement that needs to be heard by all staff or clients (for example, reminding them of discounts and deals) inside the shop.



· Better safety and health practices

Participants to the CRI poll said that stores promote a safe customer experience by arranging an interior layout that encourages social distancing, phone-based self-checkout systems, and cashless payments.

Plexiglass dividers and social distancing markers are currently used by many reopened mall stores, with employees wearing face coverings, gloves, or both. Meanwhile, customers are offered disinfectants or sanitizers at the door. Stores are also operating on shorter hours so there'll be enough time for cleaning.

  (Click on the picture to shop for more models.)

You should consider using amplifiers or wireless mics when discussing or rehearsing new safety protocols for return-to-work staff.

You can even post a short video on your social media channels to show the new safety and cleaning measures being implemented at your store.


· Purpose-driven operations

Over 50% of CRI survey respondents want to buy from brands with civic-mindedness and empathy for the public during this COVID-19 crisis. In particular, consumers are likely to become loyal to brands that take care of their employees and extend COVID-19-related support to their community. Coincidentally, 55% of consumers think that companies have shown a quicker and more effective response to the pandemic compared to their governments, based on a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report.

You can achieve this is by showing your brand's crisis response and community efforts. One of your most powerful marketing resources—social media—is free. With the help of appropriate sound equipment, record audio and video clips of your latest activities using your phone and upload them on your company's official YouTube and Facebook accounts. You can use these clips as raw material for a more high-budget advertisement soon.

Besides engaging your existing and would-be customers, such marketing campaigns create a sense of stability around your brand, something that's refreshing during times of uncertainty. Consumers should see your brand as something more than a product to be bought but as a friend, they can rely on or help improve their lives.

But stay sensitive to your consumers' feelings. Some people have lost loved ones and employment during the pandemic. Moreover, many suffered from anxiety due to isolation while most if not all continue to worry about the future. Fifty-seven percent of respondents to the Edelman report want companies to avoid funny or light-hearted advertising. So ensure that your messages focus on safeguarding the health and financial security. Choose medical experts over celebrity ambassadors as the former holds higher credibility at this time, according to the Edelman survey.



Stay Transparent

As consumers grapple with fears that a new wave of COVID-19 infections will send them indoors again, retailers and shopping center operators should keep clients updated to sustain their trust.

If you own a shop or run a chain of stores, you must assess how ready your business is to fulfill online orders, especially if you're selling consumable goods. Invest in automated inventory management technologies to help you move forward. Moreover, work with your suppliers to forecast product demand and tap digital platforms that can predict this. The way retailers and suppliers honor commitments during the ongoing crisis can undergo public scrutiny. Be aware that actions such as delaying payments or canceling orders can hurt your brand if they weren't done properly.

Communicate to both your staff and customers about any challenges you are facing, using the appropriate sound equipment if necessary.

Develop your capacity to respond to client orders, questions, and cancellations through online tools from chatbots to video conferencing software.


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