The world is an uncertain place right now, with the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact almost every aspect of our daily lives. Businesses across the globe have been some of the hardest hit by the virus, with many having to close their doors for months at a time. In particular, the retail industry has been faced with numerous challenges in the past year, and many have had to make some serious changes to keep trading. Luckily, advances in digital technology have made this possible.
But as retailers look towards the end of lockdown and the reopening of shops, there is a lot to consider. Consumer behaviors have changed a lot due to the pandemic. Businesses in the sector need to continue to adapt if they hope to remain profitable and stay ahead of the competition. The good news is that several trends became apparent this year, which will help traditional retailers keep afloat over the next year.
In this guide, we’ll look at five of the key ways traditional retailers need to adapt if they hope to survive in 2021.
- Get online and embrace e-commerce.
We’ll start with this point because it is arguably one of the most important. No matter how reluctant, traditional retailers need to make the step towards e-commerce and get their stores online. Throughout the pandemic, consumers have become accustomed to doing pretty much all their shopping online and having it delivered straight to their door. And this change in behavior looks set to stay, especially in 2021, with many still uncertain and vulnerable to the virus.
The result of this is that retailers need to work on their online presence and consider setting up an e-commerce store that allows them to boost sales when many people can’t visit them in-person.
This is because we live in an ever-changing digital world; there’s no escaping that, and those traditional retailers that refuse to embrace e-commerce could find themselves struggling in 2021 and beyond.
- Offer in-store pickup
Although some local shops had already begun offering in-store pickup before the pandemic when the virus hit, it became a life-line for many. This made it much easier for customers to reserve and pay for goods online whilst keeping human contact to an absolute minimum as they collected their products in-store. Many also found this to be a great way to get their goods quickly without waiting for them to be delivered.
More retailers will need to make the shift towards offering a click and collect option in their store in the coming year. Not only is this a convenient way of making sales, but it also helps to keep employees and customers safe.
- Brick and mortar stores should consider delivering directly to customers.
Traditionally, brick-and-mortar stores were for customers to pop by in-person and grab what they needed. Still, during the pandemic, local delivery became very important to both retailers and their customers. Many shops set up e-commerce options online or allowed their local customers to email/call in to place an order. Then, they were able to take the goods directly from the in-store inventory and deliver it straight to their customers living nearby. This usually meant that customers could get their goods the same day, something which many really appreciated.
Not only this, but the pandemic saw a shift towards people shopping more locally and wanting to support businesses in their area. This meant many were happy to order from their local store and have their goods delivered rather than online to use huge e-commerce stores like Amazon. In the coming year, more traditional retailers should consider offering local delivery to those in their area. This has proved to be popular with consumers and a great way to continue making sales.
The result of this might also be that brick and mortar deliveries are faster than e-commerce sales, and therefore more consumers choose this option.
- Consider redesigning your store.
Just because people are increasingly shopping online, this doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar shops are going anywhere. For those that hope to continue driving foot traffic in-store, it might be time to reconsider the design of your shop. To keep employees and customers safe and ensure everyone is adhering to social distancing measures, many retailers have already begun adding signage, arrows, and contactless options to their store.
These are some of the fundamental (but important) steps you should take, but it’s also a good idea to consider new and innovative ways to maximize space in-store to give people more distance. This might mean moving away from the traditional aisles and cramped shelves to open up the floor.
- Make the online experience more personal.
In recent years, more retailers have begun to embrace digital marketing’s power as a way of reaching a larger audience. With consumers spending more time than ever online, particularly in 2020, this is an important tool. However, as digital marketing has become more innovative and sophisticated, consumers have increasingly expected personalization and a more tailored online retail experience.
Traditional retailers and those that are not utilizing personalization and digital marketing to their full potential need to get on board. This means using tactics like ‘suggested products’ to target those who have visited your site before, as well as personalized offers and email marketing strategies.
Content will also be king in 2021, and retailers need to make the most content such as video, blog posts, and social media to help them grow their brand presence and engage with their customer base online. This can help boost sales, gaining more customers, and securing great reviews.