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11/30/2020

Retailing Post-Coronavirus: What the New Retail Can and Should Look Like

The rate of retail change has gone from a jog to a sprint, forcing retailers to adjust operations on the fly to continue to meet consumer demand despite unprecedented disruption. While agile retailers were able to enjoy a first-mover advantage, fast followers are hot on their heels reinventing their enterprises to compete in the “New Normal.”

But what does this retail future state look like? And how can retailers best invest to ensure they are among the winners once the health crisis is safely in the rearview?

To uncover what retail can and should look like in the short and long term RIS hosted a fireside chat with a leading expert on the in-store experience to discuss the current state of the store, where it is headed, and how to be prepare for this new reality.

Joining RIS editor-in-chief Tim Denman was Zebra Analytics general manager and vice president Guy Yehiav. The two discussed how retailers can equip themselves to win now and into the future, as well as the strategic approaches leading sellers have deployed to stay a step ahead of the competition. Read on for a quick recap and the full video of the discussion.

Retailers in 2020 have endured an unparalleled amount of change. From the store to the warehouse — to the backend systems taxed with keeping operations aligned  no aspect of the enterprise has gone untouched.

Caught in the middle of all this change is the retail associate. Not only have associates been forced to adapt to the health risks associated with in-person retail, but they have also been asked to take on a host of new duties while still completing their traditional tasks.

To facilitate this increased workload, retailers are leaning heavily on task management software to communicate with employees, as well as track their performance. Retailers that have equipped associates with the mobile devices necessary for real-time task management are able to seamlessly adjust associate workflows to meet changing demand.

Among the increased tasks that have been most disruptive for associates is the large increase in curbside delivery. While leading retailers were already experimenting with the service pre-COVID, the flexible fulfillment option took on greater important and widespread use during the health crisis.

Although an influx of curbside pickup was disruptive to say the least, it also presented new possibilities. Mobile-device-wielding associates were not only able to be kept informed of their changing tasks, but they could use these devices to further enhance the new curbside experience.

By allowing associates to finalize transactions in the parking lot via their mPOS units, retailers can help shoppers complete their order with any items they might have forgotten to place in their virtual basket.

While the ongoing health crisis has drastically disrupted retail operations, it has also brought with it an opportunity to examine the current retail experience and re-invent it to meet current demand.

Be sure to watch the video above to hear what Yehiav and Denman had to say about the evolving in-store experience and where it is likely headed. Real-world examples of what works and what doesn’t are provided, as well as advice every merchant should hear as they look to redefine what retail is and could be.