In every retail boardroom around the world, leaders and employees continue to search for the answer around how the retail landscape is going to look as we move out of what has already been a defining year for the world and its inhabitants.
As we move into the critical second half of 2020, it’s anticipated that more of us will be shopping in stores once again. More of us will go back to working at least part of the time in offices, and without a doubt millions of us will continue to be tightening our belts.
But it is unlikely that ecommerce will go back to the level it was at prior to March 2020. (link below)
Laggards that pre-Covid were hesitant about shopping online found it to be the only place they could get what they wanted within the context of an enforced 'lockdown'.
The message from every government to 'Stay safe, Stay at Home, and Save Lives' seems to have had an enduring impact on behaviour. So much so that as restrictions started to ease many of us were still in a state of heightened anxiety, and with the mandated message for people to also wear face mask when shopping might just prove a step too far to rebuild what was already a fragile sector.
The adoption of the 2 metre rule if we went shopping soon slowed down the eagerness of and excitement of shoppers. What was once seen as a social retail experience stepped up to a boring and dull 'transactional' experience like never before.
So now the bar to compete has been lifted higher than ever before. If you throw into the mix the ongoing rise of digital commerce from eCommerce websites, Apps, Social Media, and now 'Social Commerce' it seems to be a difficult hurdle to 'encourage' shoppers to leave the safety of their homes and 'get out' to help assist with kick starting the economy.
For many retailers that bar has proven to be far too high as retail casualties appear in our headlines on an almost daily basis. Consumers are looking for 'hassle and anxiety free' shopping experiences.
Companies have translated this to mean more 'tech/digital' projects, when the answer is something a lot more simple and less cost.
As an international retail brand and business consultant I constantly see brands/companies getting fixated with logo's, mission statements, AI, VR, tech projects, and other such activity - all of which distracts from the real reason the company/brand is struggling.
Transformation isn't about digital, channels, tech, Apps, websites, or other fixed mindset stuff, it's totally about being consumer centric. Then working out how you can add value by leveraging what you have to build the transformation bridges to the new future.
Consumer's don't think in tech silo's, they don't think in channels, they're all very selfish, they just want to learn more about you, and then choose the best way to 'buy' from you. So, this has to be the focus for all of retail.
Your job is to figure out how to do that, and knowing the 'WHY' consumers should choose you over a competitor is one of the biggest and ongoing roles any company/brand can do.
And if you're 'Why' cannot be regained, you have probably got 3 choices;
- Stay as you are - die slowly.
- Re-position with a 'leverage and build' strategy.
- Kill it yourself.
As the saying goes "It's easier to give birth than it is to raise the dead"
For many retailers, the ecommerce channel has allowed them to thrive. From DIY stores, to home exercise businesses, right through to companies like Tesco, who were up more than 90% for ecommerce sales in May 2020 vs the prior year.