The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has been a historical event. The entire world closed their borders and malls, essentially putting an end to the act of “going shopping”. Now that the first sets of restrictions are being eased, shoppers are slowly returning to stores. But their preferences have changed.
Shoppers are now looking for quicker checkouts, less queuing, and generally a more streamlined journey. In short, they want the efficiency of buying online combined with the luxury of holding the product in your own hands that comes with the traditional shopping experience.
And retailers often fail to deliver. Smart retail is quickly becoming a necessity instead of a luxury, but more than 35% of shoppers have yet to experience even the most basic in-store technologies like automated checkouts or digital price tags.
Retailers have been slow to adapt and have been struggling to keep up with this rapid change in customer behaviour. Continue reading to find out how to transform your store to accommodate the needs of the modern consumer.
The Importance of Safety and Convenience
With the pandemic still active, safety and hygienic standards are among the most important concerns for consumers right now. Almost 60% of shoppers say they avoid stores that appear to be too crowded or don’t follow the necessary security guidelines to protect their staff and customers.
In that same niche, consumers want convenience. With the new health and safety protocols, people are not looking to spend hours just browsing the aisles of their favourite stores. They want to buy what they’re looking for quickly and without hassle. Companies like Amazon have been experimenting with a new self-checkout system that would eliminate the need for cashiers and make the customer experience so much more seamless.
Some retailers have already succeeded in digitizing their store environment. In Canada, Aisle 24 adopted Digital Smart Labels™, cameras, and other in-store technologies, enabling them to offer a 24-hour contactless and digital shopping experience; something that is undeniably going to become the new standard for consumers. They are showing us now what the probably not-too-distant future will look like.
Leveraging In-store Technologies
In Asia, retail technologies have been enjoying great popularity. At almost every single Uniqlo in China, a robot will be greeting you and will display featured products. This kind of technology is the exact type of guidance your customers need in a post-Covid world. The faster people find what they’re looking for, the less people will be lingering in your store just to browse, the more steady the flow of customers.
Another way of making sure your store meets the new hygienic standards of consumers is to limit the contact between your employees and your products. Through technologies like electronic shelf displays, retailers can change the prices of your products without ever having to step foot into an aisle. Similarly, digital inventory systems can reduce the need for manual inventory control, which reduces the number of people in a store at any time. This not only allows for a safer environment, but also for increased store efficiency, as a significant amount of manual labor is eliminated.
Retailers have generally been one of the groups that adapt more slowly to new technologies, but the rapid shift in consumer conscience has highlighted the gaps in store efficiencies and no longer allows for laggards. The new standard for the future of retail is being set right now. By adopting in-store technologies like electronic shelf labels that not only streamline operations but also help follow post-Covid health and safety protocols, retailers can take the right steps towards the digitalization of their offline retail environment.
Embracing the Future
Adapting to the needs of consumers, especially after this global pandemic, should be the top priority for businesses. Shopping habits have always been ever-changing, but that change is being accelerated now more than ever before.
Now is the time to react. Create an omnichannel approach that delivers a consistent experience across all touchpoints, on- as well as offline. Streamline your store operations with faster checkouts, decluttered aisles, and minimal human contact.
Your customers’ habits are changing. Paying attention to these changes and reacting to them in real time is what makes the difference between your average business and the next big success story. Now is the time to revisit the old and embrace the new.