There have been many changes to the retail industry over the last few months that may not have been fathomable a year ago. Because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 and in consideration of recommended social distancing and hygienic procedures, retail stores began closing down or operating at a lowered capacity. Some stores were able to direct customers to use eCommerce and online shopping as a primary means to acquire goods and services.
What will be the outcome of reopening retail stores after a pandemic shutdown? Those customers and clients may have evolved. Their in-store behavior and expectations will be different.
In this post, we’ll review ways that retail stores can adapt and prepare for their customers, whether it’s reconfiguring their space or creating a familiar retail experience, following the COVID-19 shutdown.
What is Retail Strategy, and Why Does it Matter?
A well-defined retail strategy can be the difference between success and failure. Knowing who your customers are and who they are not is paramount, even more so during these unprecedented times.
What shoppers have been accustomed to during the pandemic should determine what will be on your shelves, how they move throughout the store, how they interact with staff, obtain information and complete the buying cycle. With this in mind, your retail displays, wayfinding, signage, and information kiosks may need to be reconfigured and adapted to meet the new consumer expectations.
1. Bring the online shopping experience to your retail location
With online shopping, customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to making purchases from the comfort of their own home. Similarly, you can evoke a sense of trust and familiarity in-store by applying the functionality of an eCommerce website.
Mimic your online presence in a retail environment with the same elements that you have established on your website. Make sure you use the same graphics, language, call-to-action, and site navigation as the base of your retail strategy for signage, wayfinding, information, and points of purchase.
2. Enhance the retail experience
Show your customers what they’ve been missing. Online shopping has its positives but compared to venturing out to make a purchase, it’s very one dimensional. Appeal to your customers’ senses through tangible displays, bright colors, and interactive content. Define the retail experience as more than just an online purchase at the kitchen table or a night in front of the television with a mobile phone.
3. Improve customer service
Improve staff knowledge and provide them with the tools to help customers efficiently. Consider implementing a digital kiosk with a live chat option or AI-driven chatbot software to assist customers with their frequently asked questions anywhere within the store.
4. Increase engagement with interactive displays
An online shopper looks for proof through word-of-mouth recommendations. Provide the opportunity for customers to browse through testimonials from your website on specific products. Adding point-of-sale reviews in your interactive product displays will help guide them through the purchasing decision process quicker.
5. Integrate self-checkouts and curbside pick-ups
Consider time and accessibility within your store layout. With online shopping, a purchase is only a click away and customers get instant gratification. Allow your customers to make purchases throughout the store and so they don’t have to wait in line.
Be flexible with how your customers shop. Some retail stores have developed a curbside pick-up process so that customers can make purchases online and pick them up at their convenience. By combining the best of both worlds, stores can accommodate new shopping habits that will continue to be popular after the pandemic lifts.
What does the future hold for retailers?
The face of retail as we know it has changed forever. Consumer behavior will shape the retail business and stores will need to adapt to stay open. By reinforcing the brand experience of shopping in-store, retailers will be able to sustain and thrive.
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