For retailers, the uncertainties caused by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are unrelenting.
So, what should we do with this additional "found time," waiting for the customers? That's a question we CAN answer!
As you are sorting out how best to reopen, we encourage you to be bold about embracing technology. Not just a POS system upgrade with better e-commerce capability. There's much more that warrants your attention.
There's a whole alphabet of resources out there, already being embraced by many: ML (machine learning); AI (artificial intelligence); AR (augmented reality), QR (Quick Response matrix barcodes). All enabling chatbots, robots, digital displays and much else to become "smarter" and more applicable.
Consider these examples of virtual try-ons:
Or this: live, interactive shopping...on a smart phone app!
How about making your brick-and-mortar space work for you 24/7?
Meanwhile, trade associations are accelerating their adoption of technology as their ability to hold trade shows is shut down. Retailers will be exposed to much of this as they participate in "virtual trade shows."
Our view on technology is that it never can replace human judgment. Indeed, we always have bristled at Amazon's stated intent to "replace the art of retailing with the science of retailing."
Yet we believe all this bodes very well for independent retailers.
We encourage you to take advantage of this time to explore all this.
There is no future in being a technology laggard. Surely there are some tools here that would be right at home in your retail operation going forward. We urge you to find out.
1 Stephanie Asymkos, Americans plan to spend more in these two areas as economy reopens. Yahoo Money, July 8, 2020.
2 Virtual try-ons are replacing fitting rooms during the pandemic. Abba Bhattarai, The Washington Post, July 9, 2020.
3 A Live-Streaming Challenger to Amazon, Facebook: Popshop Live Gives Small Stores a Lifeline. Joan Verdon, Forbes. July 8, 2020.
4 Five Unique Ways to Decorate Your Storefront Window Display, Holly Kemp, Manta. June 29, 2020.
5 A Socially Distant Toy Fair: Toy Makers Learn the New Rules of Virtual Play. Joan Verdon, Forbes, July 12, 2020.
There's little that any of us can do to address the public health crisis of the pandemic. Its impact on people and businesses is a widespread and major jolt, akin to the shocks of 9/11 and the 2008-09 economic meltdown.
Even as painful and disruptive as the pandemic is at this moment, we must remind ourselves that it will subside. It's not whether it will subside, just when.
But all of us are going to have to deal with the ensuing economic situation, and its effects on our sales, our customers, our employees.
These are difficult times for us all. Retailing in particular is under enormous stress. Many feel like there are no good choices.
But, there are good decisions. And The ROI is dedicated to helping you be able to make those good decisions for yourself.
As the global efforts to "flatten the curve" of the coronavirus pandemic continue, there is another curve that is being flattened. That would be the seasonality of retail sales.
And this may prove to be what really defines the New Normal for retailers.
The customary peaks of retail spending have been flattened.
Independent retailers are renowned for being "technology laggards." Those days have to end!
As you wait and worry about re-opening your stores, the state of the economy, the health and safety of your family and friends and employees, here is an idea of what you might do with some of your found time.
When you do re-open, be sure that you are actually in the 21st Century! Put your energy, your resilience, and your flexibility to use, focusing on improving your IT.
The goal: When you re-open, be even better than your competition! And more relevant to your shoppers.
Now that we've put a wrap on 2021, and before we really dive into 2022, it's time to catch your breath and reflect on where we are after 2021.
Perhaps like us you believe that fundamental and enduring changes have occurred; no one can operate on "auto-pilot" anymore. All of us have to learn new processes, and form new habits. What's it called? Oh yes; "embracing change." Lots of it.
That's why it is a very opportune time, particularly for owners, to have a very active Q&A session with themselves.
The basic definition of retailing is "selling to the ultimate consumer."
As you know, HOW that is done, and in what location or format, continues to change and evolve.
So, we were intrigued by this recent post on the Shopify Retail Blog: The Future of Physical Retail in a Digital-First World.*
To us, the blog post was essentially a wide-ranging journey of discovery(and perhaps even some new-found respect for those "physical retailers".)
Still less than $1 a day! 👀