As the entire globe is under quarantine in view of the pandemic and consumers around the world are shy of direct human contact, retailers are scrambling to adapt. They recognize, the global response to the novel COVID-19 virus will have a significant impact on their business. They understand the situation is changing daily and know they have a little time with them to respond.
While the world seems to be adjusting to a ‘new normal’, among the outbreak and when even by the most generous estimates, we’re still six to eight months away from a vaccine, the retail industry is expecting the demand to surge and hoping to bounce back to pre-COVID level. Many retailers are even expecting the demand to be higher than the pre-COVID era, as buyers, who had been cooped up in their homes have a latent propensity and agility to shop.
Consumers across the world are giving preference to shopping at places that offered contactless, cashless shopping, and self-checkout options. The idea of a “cashless transaction system” has existed in India for a while now, and this pandemic could accelerate its adoption.
OMNI CHANNEL APPROACH WILL BE THE NEW TREND
The omnichannel approach, which has been a rising trend for a while, picked up the pace ever since the lockdown was imposed. The pandemic has caused a boom in the e-commerce industry. People are preferring to shop online, instead of bobbing and weaving through the crowds in bustling stores and putting themselves at risk. This is an opportunity that many retailers are encashing upon, and this approach will only gain ground in the future.
Online retail has become a real and credible alternative to Brick and Mortar since the start of the crisis. This consumer choice is likely to continue growing as both retailers and brands build their online capacity and capability. People who had previously been reluctant to shop online are setting up online accounts and experiencing an entirely new customer journey. And once they get a taste for online convenience, they may never go back to their old ways.
Many customers have also tried new omnichannel models: buy online, pick up in store grew 28 percent year over year in February compared with 18 percent in January, and grocery delivery is up by 57 percent.
Automation and Technology: Technology has been at the forefront and also in centre during the outbreak. The trajectories of technologies are bound to accelerate, making businesses more agile and flexible. We all need to handheld the retailers and make a platform, for the smaller Kiranas, to sell their products, from. Let’s all Join hands towards this goal.
The author is Chairman, FICCI Jammu & Kashmir State Council & Managing Director and CEO IA Multi Venture Pvt Ltd.