How Retail Stores are preparing for the New Way of Doing Business after the US Reopens
With coronavirus cases beginning to come down finally and President Biden announcing the goal of vaccinating 160 million Americans by July 4, many states are setting dates to “fully reopen.” New relaxed mask guidelines have already been announced. Businesses that have been halted by lockdowns are also eager to get back in action and benefit from pent-up consumer demand after a year of a pandemic-based lockdown.
As businesses prepare to welcome customers into their stores and restaurants while continuing with the new way of dealing with them, several issues are bound to arise.
While every business will have a different approach to dealing with those issues, these key themes will be useful for businesses of all sizes and types.
Dark stores – the future of post-pandemic retail.
A dark store refers to a former supermarket space converted into an e-commerce warehouse. Covid-19 restrictions caused retailers to close stores and turn them into operating dark units instead. Since then, these dark stores have become important parts of the retail fulfilment ecosystem. As malls and stores reopen and people throng these places to shop, these dark stores are likely to be an indispensable part of the future of the market to keep with the demands.
High demand for digital engagements.
With digital interactions taking place at unprecedented levels since the pandemic, the demands for digital engagements are expected to continue through 2021. Having digital touchpoints will help retailers meet minimum consumer expectations, but besides that, they will have to look into additional capabilities to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive market. The focus will shift towards creating a profitable and digital omnichannel experience.
Retailers will look to make reverse logistics easier.
The COVID-19 pandemic not just caused the e-commerce activities to spike but also caused an inevitable increase in returned items. With average return rates of online orders being 30%, which is a lot more than brick-and-mortar stores, retailers will be looking to make returns easier by providing more digital tools for online and in-store customers.
The initial few months will be very crucial.
After the pandemic, most businesses have been forced into a reactive position – responding to the crisis and working to stabilize their business. Now, as they are starting to think about the next phase, the decisions they make in the initial few months will be very important and will define their business for the coming years. Therefore, having a well-thought-out plan for the recovery phase will be very important.