No one really likes change! We, like our habits and routines, stick to things we know work. While changing habits and routines might be tough, that pales in comparison to the challenge of changing the way a business operates. However, with the right tools, partners and plan, retailers can be successful, and even increase revenue, in this rapidly-changing retail landscape.
The First Dramatic Shift
COVID-19 has caused 2 dramatic shifts across the retail industry. The first is the way in which people shop. In many parts of the country government regulations forced non-essential business to shut their doors earlier this year. As you might expect, consumers flocked to eCommerce websites with many online retailers seeing record sales; daily sales regularly surpassed even the busiest days of the holiday shopping season. While it seems quite obvious that with brick and mortar stores closed eCommerce sales would increase, what was not so obvious was that this shift appears to be permanent.
As we head into Q3 and soon, the all-important holiday shopping season, most retailers have reopened but few are experiencing the foot traffic or sales they were pre-pandemic. Safety concerns, and the temporary closure of stores has made many come to expect new shopping and fulfillment conveniences. These conveniences include eCommerce, but retailers who offer fulfillment methods such as curbside pickup, buy online pickup (and return) in store and in home delivery have also seen spikes in sales.
The Second Shift
While the first dramatic shift was the way people are shopping; the second dramatic shift has been in what consumers are shopping for. COVID has dramatically changed the daily routines, and needs, of many Americans; more people are working from home, kids are home from school, travel is at all-time lows. These changes have shifted the type of merchandise people are shopping for. In general, Americans are spending more time at home, and spending more money on lounge wear, home entertainment, household supplies and groceries. Where spending for luxury items, transportation, jewelry and accessories have plummeted.
Changes in Consumer spending
- Home Improvement & Gardening up 13%
- Home entertainment up 5%
- Groceries up 14%
- Jewelry down 35%
- Accessories down 30%
How Can Retailers Adjust?
So what can you do? First, don’t despair. While we are not ‘out of the woods’ yet with COVID-19, the latest consumer spending statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show an 8.1% increase in spending from the April lows; so people are beginning to shop more. Second, be agile. The retail world has changed fast; but with a plan, you can take advantage of these new shopping habits.
Launch an eCommerce Site
At a minimum, if you are not online, we recommend you start planning to launch an eCommerce site as soon as possible. eCommerce sales have grown year-over-year for over a decade now, and COVID has only accelerated that trend. Retailers who are not online are missing out on a massive 2nd revenue stream. What’s more, new technology has made launching a website cheaper, easier and faster than ever before. Many technology partners even offer digital marketing services, such as targeted email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) to help grow your online customer base quickly.
Offer Alternative Fulfillment Options
If you already have an eCommerce website, or are planning to launch one, you may want to consider alternative fulfillment methods. Offering conveniences such as curbside and in store pickup will help build a loyal customer base in your local community. These options provide shoppers the conveniences of online shopping with the instant gratification of getting products the same day. Ask your technology provider if they offer integrated curbside or in store pickup.
Change Product Inventory
You can also adapt by changing the products you carry. As we stated previously, consumer spending behavior has changed. Think of your customers and how their lives may be different today; and what products you could carry to meet their needs. People like to stick with brands they know- so offering new products that have a higher demand is a good way to keep them shopping with you- and not another brand.
Change is part of business. Your business will need to adapt and change with the times in order to keep customers satisfied and business booming. Your business operations may look stranger than ever as you adapt to the changes presented by COVID-19, but to succeed in the current climate, your business must ‘roll with the punches’, stay agile and continue to move forward.
Let us Help!
Are you looking to keep up and stay ahead of the curve? Consider using a more robust POS and eCommerce software. Our team is here to help. Celerant is the #1 retail software vendor of 2020 by RIS Magazine. Our powerful and scalable POS and eCommerce solution allows retailers to manage their in store and online operations through one system. For a limited time, take advantage of up to 30% off all SaaS services*, and ensure you’re staying ahead of today’s retail curve.