The eight ways retail will shift after COVID-19

retail after COVID-19

ARNAonline co-founders Arianne and Natasha Ritz.

We’re now a quarter way through 2020 and it’s fair to say a lot has already happened.

The Australian bushfires set the scene for summer and now COVID-19 has set the scene for Autumn. So what’s next?

As the owner of a fashion retail business, ARNAonline, I have seen some changes in consumer behaviour online, in relation to both shopping and general content consumption. These massive events will change the face of retail forever.

How do I know this?

I’ve been working in retail, from the shop floor to leading marketing and communications teams, for 14 years, and I’ve never seen such rapid consumer behaviour changes.

Here’s what I believe will happen after COVID-19.

1. Smaller retail footprints

No more department stores, or at least, an evolution of this style of retailing.

I believe this trend was already appearing before the wake of COVID-19, but this pandemic will springboard this into the reality that we see today.

In the next year, I believe we will no longer see very-large-format, high-end department stores.

2. Mixed retailing and services

Knowing how volatile retail is and how tough the industry has had it for the last two years, I think it calls for innovation.

I expect to see retailers partnering with top baristas, bakers, authors, artists and other brands to collaborate in bringing a mixed service and retail experience to life.

Currently, retailers are finding the dwell time of customers low, and engagement with brands continues to dip.

The only way to keep people in a store is to offer deeper services that fill their needs, such as Wi-Fi, good working spaces and great coffee, as well as your products.

3. The ongoing growth of ethical retailing

B Corp brands and social enterprises will continue to grow and win the hearts and minds of consumers.

Especially with generation Z coming through and expecting more from brands, aligning them with their own personal values.

4. Collaborations

Working together is absolutely the way of the future. Think rent-sharing, cost-sharing, staff-sharing and mix product offerings and services.

In the future, retailers will collaborate with brands, influencers and experiential-type companies to bring to life the art that can be a retail experience.

Retailers will need to think out the box to bring people into their spaces.

5. Mature digital customers

The opportunity to increase a digital and e-commerce offering for middle-aged or baby boomer customers is on the rise.

Now is the time to capture the attention of baby boomers and help them access products and services they may have never used before.

This will create an opportunity for new habits and the reduction of fear around online ordering.

6. A deeper understanding of supply chains

Companies that rely completely on manufacturing in China may start to think twice about this, considering what would happen if another pandemic was to set sail across the globe.

Social enterprises and people who work with artisans across the world will also need to think more deeply about how they can keep their businesses afloat and support the livelihoods of the people who hand-make their products.

It will be likely that brands will expand their manufacturing efforts to places such as Cambodia, Indonesia and India in order to ensure supply lines can continue to meet demands.

7. Room for smaller retailers and boutiques

I believe the smaller boutique stores and brands will begin to proliferate.

Larger brands and chains have begun to fold due to overheads and staffing costs being so high.

This makes room for scrappy, innovative brands to come forward to take up space in this new generation of post-COVID-19 retail.

8. A renters’ market

With rents being astronomical and so many large retailers folding in the last two years, landlords will need to think twice about their rents, because soon, they won’t be able to fill their spaces.

It’s going to become a renters’ market. 

Now’s the time to become more innovative and to really think about your customers’ needs.

It’s time to consider competition as allies and partner to create amazing experiences for people.

Now more than ever, we need to come together as an industry.

NOW READ: Is your website optimised for COVID-19-induced traffic changes?

NOW READ: This crisis is different: E-commerce, coronavirus and the looming recession


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