The post-pandemic retail expertise is shaping as much as be extra dynamic and fascinating for customers whereas additionally mixing the efficiencies, flexibility and personalization of on-line buying with the sense of discovery provided by a bodily retailer.
During the latest Fairchild Media Group Tech Forum, Rob Garf, vice chairman and normal supervisor, retail at Salesforce, mentioned this pattern with Adrianna Lee, expertise reporter at WWD. The session, titled, “The New Retail Work Environment,” additionally lined client preferences born out of the pandemic that may probably stay everlasting fixtures within the buying expertise, in addition to how retailers responded after the COVID-19 outbreak compelled them to briefly shutter shops.
“Practically overnight, non-essential retailers shut doors and everything turned digital really quickly,” Garf mentioned. “From a consumer perspective, over the course of 2020 we saw a 57 percent increase in [online shopping] and that was driven by net new digital shoppers. We also saw a 40 percent increase in digital shoppers around the world, but that didn’t mean the store became irrelevant.”
Garf mentioned retailers with bodily shops should reinvent the shop and likewise “reimagine the role of the store associate.” That meant going from a “scan and bag” position to turning into decide and pack success consultants because the demand for curbside pick-up and purchase on-line, decide up in-store soared.
“They also became social media managers as they were asked to reach out to their social networks to represent their [company’s] brand,” he mentioned. “They also became virtual service agents and stylists, and brand ambassadors while replicating the in-store vibe.”
When requested about modifications on the store- and district- supervisor stage, Garf mentioned the pandemic upended conventional administration capabilities, however mentioned retailers are taking a look at methods to proceed collaborating with numerous applied sciences. “A lot of their responsibility is spent in cars and going to each individual store, and I think that’s not going to end,” he mentioned. “You still need to walk the aisle — especially what’s happening on the ground with associates and consumers. There’s no better way to really take the temperature of what’s happening in retail than spending time in the store.”
In regard to utilizing expertise to attach and collaborate, Garf mentioned he thinks a “lot can be accomplished in an asynchronous and virtual way. We’re seeing a lot of retailers talk about the next generation of collaboration and communication. And you will see this at the store, district and regional manager level, but also among store associates as well. There’s an opportunity to create a community within the associate base that doesn’t need to be constrained by where they physically are located.”
For customers, Garf mentioned the shift towards embracing on-line buying isn’t going away. And as extra folks get vaccinated and return to shops, he sees customers prioritizing and valuing well being, security, comfort and belief. And educated gross sales associates who can supply personalised buying experiences, in-store or just about, are “not going to go away,” Garf added.
“Consumers also want to come back and live life again, and a big part of that is experiencing the store and the physical nature of it that can’t be replicated in the digital world,” Garf mentioned, including that showrooming will probably develop into extra prevalent available in the market together with much less stock in shops.
“Retailers have tools to allow them to see where the inventory sits across the entire network and are able to have the fulfillment efficiency to get it within a day or two,” Garf mentioned, additionally noting that the showroom mannequin isn’t a “one size fits all” strategy. Some retailers and types, for instance, will likely be higher supply with pop-up shops.
Either method, Garf mentioned retailers have to “think about the idea of pushing your brand toward where the consumers are. And in many cases that’s outside the real fixed property of the retailer. Why not go to where the consumers are — especially as they’re getting back to travel, dining and entertainment?”