Physical retail stores have been one of the hardest hit industries during the Covid 19 pandemic. And it’s predicted that things will get worse before they get better – but they will get better. In a recent Forbes article, a panel of international retail experts were asked for their opinions on the future of retail. Here are the top 5 key takeaways from their discussion:
1) The pandemic won’t kill physical retail – Online sales have certainly been boosted during the various lockdowns but when stores reopened, the percentage of online sales declined. There is still a massive desire for those customers who are shopping for a solution to a problem to go to a physical store. Physical stores work better than online in these situations, as one expert said online is not a solution solving vehicle, it’s an item selling vehicle.
2) Outdoor malls have the advantage – Customer are avoiding enclosed malls in favour of open air outlets due to safety concerns. This bodes really well for local strip shop retailers to do well as they are perceived as a safer place to visit.
3) Mixed use retail, office and medical space – To attract customers, retail spaces have to provide a number of services and not just other retailers. With a number of vacant retail stores, landlords need to focus on changing the mix so customers are attracted to a one stop shop format.
4) Experiences matter, but the pandemic has refined them – Customers still want experiences, but it doesn’t mean offering things like indoor roller coasters or water parks. It’s the simpler pleasures such as outdoor dining, outdoor concerts and family friendly activities. Retailers who can provide all of this as well as an interactive experience will be the winners.
5) Retail survival of the fittest – The retailers who are failing now were struggling before Covid and this relates to not having a clear customer in mind. This is one of the reason why a number of malls are struggling as well as department store retailers.
So tough times are still ahead for most retailers, but those that can adapt to the new way of retailing and focus on the customer, will come out the other end stronger than before.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.