When you have physical stores you are subjected to unrelenting stories about how department stores are dinosaurs small businesses are closing and everyone is shopping online and will remain there.

Those kind of doom and gloom articles may get clicks, but online selling is not the magic pill it is being billed as to combat the retail revival challenges.

Besides the 30-40% returns, the expensive shipping both ways, and fleeting loyalty, there's new evidence that customer expectations are not being met.

When the pandemic hit 'social platforms' became part of the 'safety bubble' for keeping in touch with family, friends, and of course work colleagues. The rise in video conferencing platforms very quickly followed as more of us were told to 'work from home'.

As such, we are now accustomed to carrying our mobile with us for all the reasons above, but also when we leave our homes to go shopping?

A renewed focus is needed on the store experience, one that gives shoppers a reason to put down their remote, get in their car, and venture out.

And that goes whether you are considered among essential businesses or not.

It will happen, but retailers need to move beyond being omnichannel and to being omnipresent in their customers’ lives – especially in their physical stores.

Here's a thought -

One of the ideas that struck me as quite simple to implement was the rise and use of an outdated technology called the QR Code. As a result of this crisis they have been used for many things not previously considered. Anything from contactless access to restaurant menus to health status and of course airline travel.

Whilst they are not the most secure technology it has seen quite a ubiquitous level of growth with most mobile phones being able to scan and receive access to otherwise hidden and latent content information.

So, what if they were to also serve as an entertainment and infotainment solution to those stood 6 ft apart outside the retail store. If used in the right way they can even be used to maintain and ongoing 'front of mind' strategy between consumer and retailer.

Jonny Cota, the winner of Amazon’s Making the Cut in Los Angeles, has visitors scanning a QR code upon entering. It launches a friendly welcome video by Cota which tells shoppers about their brand and Covid rules.

He also lets customers shop a gallery-like space via a virtual tour or in real life, using their phones and QR codes as a guide to scan styles, see them on models, and add them to a digital cart that can be shipped or fulfilled in-store.

Now - just imagine doing this for any business access point, this can include 'travel retail', live events, including sport and music.

All sounds great perhaps - but this requires retailers to alter the 'experience' mindset by thinking about adding social and media skills to the store employees.

Because it's not just a job for the guy with the beard, or the girl with the tattoo in marketing