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The pandemic witnessed many shuttered storefronts. Retail sales dipped and major stores like Pier 1, J.Crew, and Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy in 2020. In spite of a drop in physical store sales in 2020, overall sales actually grew by 6.7%. This was largely due to e-commerce. As the economy re-opens, the growth will be even better. Retailers need to make changes to their brick-and-mortar stores to attract customers back to their physical locations.
The industry shift – The next few years will result in a great industry shift, and creative retailers will enjoy a competitive advantage. E-commerce is already treated as better than physical stores for transactions because it is convenient, accessible, and efficient. Physical stores, on the other hand, do offer a sense of security to customers. Customers can try on and test products. No matter what channel they use, retailers should improve their technology used for two-way communication and personalization. Shopping will change with the times. Cleanliness and safety protocols practiced in stores will express empathy for customers.
Creativity will play a crucial role – Creativity will add value to retail. Brands and stores will have to experiment with physical retail experiences so that customers feel informed and entertained. YouTube channels and live shopping events will result in customer loyalty. Blending traditional and digital strategies will yield positive results. Using different channels to interact with customers can help rebuild customer bases. H2Design & Co used a theater for a Galentine’s Chick flick movie night. The company collaborated with a winery to provide wine, a local restaurant provided desserts, and a florist supplied flowers.
Focus on customer experiences – To maintain trust in their brands and their products and services, retailers need to focus on customer experiences. Customer experiences should be memorable, digitally enabled, and personalized. Amazon and direct-to-consumer models allowed consumers to weather the challenges of the pandemic. Retailers with physical stores should innovate on how they use their physical space so that they can once again become destinations where customers like to spend their time. The experience they offer to customers should be tailored to their needs and wants. For instance, the supermarket chain Lidl introduced a Whatsapp chatbot in Ireland. With the help of the chatbot, customers can find the quietest times in their local stores.
Emphasis on casual clothing – With “Zoom dressing’ becoming a trend, most people are changing the way they dress. On video calls, most people were particular about their appearances from the waist up. In April, 2020, sales of pajamas and sweatpants surged by 143%, with customers giving more importance to comfort than style. Some brands, like LuLulemon, have leveraged this trend. Nike’s women apparel sales were also up by almost 200% in 2020. Customers are becoming used to comfortable clothing, and “athleisure’ as a fashion trend is here to stay.
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