As new technologies and shopper behaviors change the retail landscape, retailers are evolving to meet their customers’ expectations and stay viable. Some brands that relied solely on in-store foot traffic are struggling and still others are facing new competition from online-native brands that are opening physical storefronts. Wary of contracting COVID-19, shoppers are trending online, moving more readily between retailers, spending less time in stores, and are checking out with smaller orders. So what can retailers do to adjust to these shifts?
Shore up e-commerce presence
For retailers in almost every category, e-commerce has gone from an important alternative to physical retail to a critical channel. E-commerce is on track to set a record in 2020 – according to data from eMarketer’s 2020 reports, e-commerce will reach 14.5% of total U.S. retail sales (a record high and largest share increase) and nine countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Spain, are projected to see more than 20% growth in retail ecommerce sales by year’s end. Experts predict that e-commerce is going to continue to grow across all categories in the U.S. as consumers buy more essentials online, including groceries (233% online & pickup growth since onset of COVID), household supplies and over-the-counter medicines, and expect that trend will continue when the pandemic is over. Retailers that do well during this chaotic time will have a strong online presence, reliable product availability and user-friendly platforms.
Provide alternatives to traditional checkout
While many shoppers have shown that they are willing to shop in person, others are cautious about returning to retail stores and are looking for other ways to shop for the products they need. And since shoppers are displaying different levels of enthusiasm about entering retail stores and assuming different levels of risk, retailers need to find ways to make shopping as frictionless as possible and make it easy for customers to shop inside and outside of the physical store. Contactless and low-contact shopping methods like buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, scan & go and retail lockers that were already in place are providing real value to shoppers as they look to reduce or eliminate physical touches during their shopping journeys.
Deploy systems management tools and technical maintenance services
Keeping systems up and running has always been a critical consideration for retailers, but as shoppers have demonstrated their willingness to switch brands and retailers to get the products they need, maximizing uptime and ensuring product availability has become even more critical. Systems management can help retailers understand how their stores’ equipment is functioning, and from hardware to attached peripherals, diagnose where any issues may be before big structural problems occur. Flexible systems management solutions, when paired with technical maintenance services, can help retailers ensure that their systems are working smoothly and securely.
Retailers that do well through this uncertain time will employ scalable solutions, get creative, listen to their customers’ needs and have ownership over their solutions. To learn more about how Toshiba is helping retailers create solutions that meet their needs and help them provide the best experience possible to their customers, explore our Retailer Stories.