The impacts of COVID-19 could be felt industry-wide.
Brick-and-mortar shops were already struggling before the pandemic. The virus has just sped up this change. That being said, until online orders can be delivered immediately, there’ll always be a place for brick-and-mortar.
Physical store locations won’t go away. They simply have to adapt to customer needs to be able to remain relevant and successful. To accomplish this, they have to first understand what those customer needs are.
1. Overall in-store traffic has diminished, but is rising again
Due to the risks of contracting the virus at a public setting, clients are switching to internet shopping techniques, which has resulted in an overall drop in store traffic. Since some constraints have raised, in-store traffic has started creeping back up, but it’s still nowhere near where it had been before the pandemic started.
As a result of this, many retailers have had to adjust their stock and labour requirements. If retailers continue to buy their stock in the same levels they have been used to before the virus, they’ll be left with too much inventory to have the ability to sell. Their labour demands are also far different than previously.
Initially, historical data was not of much use. There was no possible way to tell what a shop’s needs is since everything was steeped in so much doubt. However, the industry has finally started to understand how the virus affects in-store traffic more and more daily and can now use data from their POS to help them forecast both stock and labor requirements.
While many businesses are encountering shortages from providers, early and accurate stock forecasting is much more critical. Be certain you monitor inventory and use closely as time continues, as the information will continue to be critical in understanding the impacts of the virus on your shop.
The virus has caused the market to suffer. What started as a worldwide health issue quickly transformed into an economic one which has shaken the way consumers and retailers conduct business transactions. Many clients are furloughed or laid off and are not as willing to invest. If they’re, they’re more cautious than ever about how much they spend and what they spend it on.
It is crucial, then, that you provide a whole lot of value for the price if you would like customers to shop. Use this time to keep track of your sales carefully so that you can identify which products are top sellers and what areas of stock you may cut to lower your overhead costs.
3. Transparency is more important than ever
Whilst in the past, customers used to flock to brick-and-mortar shops for leisure and entertainment activities, shopping has changed. Now instead of a source of entertainment, shopping has become a necessity. Clients are just going out to stores when absolutely necessary, and are making less frequent excursions, buying more items per trip than previously.
As a result of this, it is vital your inventory counts are accurate. Customers don’t need to venture out under the belief that you have a much-needed item in stock, only to find it missing from the shelves as soon as they arrive.
By this stage, every shop operator should be investing in stock software that delivers real-time stock information and can automatically update what is shown to be in stock on a merchant’s website. This level of transparency is valuable to customers, who do not take kindly to retailers whose sites do not accurately reflect current stock levels.
As mentioned previously, most customers will prioritize safety over amusement, which means they’ll only shop at stores that reflect their particular concerns and have implemented protocols and features that help keep clients safe.
Retailers are finding numerous approaches to improve safety in their stores. Directional signage is one of the most popular ways. Shops are reorganizing the flow of traffic so that clients are directed to journey down aisles one time, which reduces the chance for casual face-to-face interaction and enables customers to remain a safe distance from one another.
Foot traffic patterns might help contain the spread of this virus, but may also be used to help you market your goods when you optimize your in-store layout. By directing foot traffic and strategically placing promotions, you make them more visible to clients.
Some retailers are turning to shop-by-appointment techniques. Others are restricting in-store capacity. However, others are taking security a step further by implementing self-service kiosks or tablet POS systems that enable clients to answer their own questions and handle their own transactions without needing to come into intimate contact with a worker.
While many prefer to think they have finally figured out how to manage the consequences of COVID-19, the truth is that it’s continually changing and evolving. The business is still being changed daily, and while certain steps can be taken to enhance security and boost in-store traffic, the condition of the sector will continue to change until there’s a vaccine available and the pandemic is in check.
Until then, the best way forward is by continuously monitoring the data readily available and continuing to adapt as required.