Covid-19 Accelerates Retail’s Digital Transformation

The global coronavirus pandemic has significantly and, possibly, irreversibly changed the way the retail industry solves complex business and communication difficulties, increasing reliance on electronic technologies.

Retail’s digital transformation, that is the concept of using new electronic technologies to address business performance, has been continuing for decades. Ecommerce is possibly the most crucial retail digital transformation ever.

Covid-19 has forced retailers to invest more money into new technologies and implement these technologies a lot more quickly than otherwise planned.

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Ecommerce Expansion

Possibly the best example of the way Covid-19 has quickened retail electronic transformation is the assortment of brick-and-mortar stores that included ecommerce during the lockdown.

A poll of 200 merchants conducted by Software Advice, a testimonials platform, found that 25 percent of surveyed businesses inserted an ecommerce revenue channel due to the pandemic. The survey, while relatively small, makes the point that retailers that had not yet started to sell online quickly altered their businesses.

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Software Advice’s survey found that 50 out of 200 respondents began ecommerce operations because of Covid-19.

Retailers that had not previously taken ecommerce severely or committed much funds to it was shut and had a way to make cash. Furthermore, those specific retailers saw reports about the great increase in online ordering and wanted to take advantage.

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It is worth remembering that ecommerce has been growing, pre-Covid.

“Ahead of the pandemic, ecommerce sales already represented the vast majority of overall retail sales growth in the united states. Some $600 billion in online sales accounted for 56 percent of total retail expansion in 2019,” composed Agnes Teh Stubbs in the opening of the aforementioned Software Advice report.

The coronavirus quickened ecommerce’s growth trends significantly.

“U.S. ecommerce penetration jumped to more than 25 percent in April 2020 from 15 percent in year-end 2019, pulling forward a couple of years of adoption,” according to a June 2020 report by Prologis Research, which also estimated that ecommerce would reach a”penetration of nearly 20 percent for 2020 as a whole vs. a pre-pandemic forecast of 16.9 percent.”


“Over the last few months, we’ve observed years-long digital transformation roadmaps compressed into days and weeks to adapt to the new normal as a result of Covid-19. Our clients in virtually every industry are required to recognize new ways to communicate with their customers and stakeholders — from patients to students, to shoppers, in addition to employees — essentially overnight,” said Glenn Weinstein, chief customer officer in Twilio, the text and communication platform.

Weinstein’s remarks followed the launching of a big digital transformation survey Twilio ran in June 2020 that included responses from 2,569 decisionmakers from enterprise-level companies internationally.

Digital Acceleration Due to Covid-19

The survey found that, normally, Covid-19 had quickened businesses’ plans to implement new communications systems and stations by about six years across all companies addressed along with a few 6.1 decades particularly for the retail and ecommerce companies. With 95 percent of the responding businesses searching for new ways to communicate with and engage customers in light of the pandemic.

To deal with this need to communicate and engage, some 35 percent of these companies Twilio surveyed added live chat, no matter company, and 33 percent additional interactive voice response solutions.

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Digital Channels Used for the First Tiime Due to Covid-19

All told, Twilio found that 70 percent of the retail and pure-play ecommerce businesses it surveyed in June had popped their digital transformation in communications.

What is more, when asked about increasing the use of digital channels already in place due to Covid-19, retailers said they fostered live chat by 52 percent, email by half, video calling by 46 percent, and SMS (texting) by 49 percent.

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Supply Chain

“The pandemic has exposed how vulnerable distribution networks throughout the planet are. Many retailers are affected because of their inability to predict and meet customer demand for their goods. Retailers will need more transparency of inventory to plan their offline and online customer experience,” wrote Vishnu Nallani Chekravarthula, head of innovation with Qentelli, a consulting firm, in a May 2020 article in Total Retail.

Supply chain problems throughout the pandemic will almost surely lead to new solutions, which in turn, will likely require a digital transformation.

Small-and-mid-sized retailers may want to warehouse comparatively more inventory of significant products and position which stock closer to customers. This may mean, for example, a retail ecommerce SMB which has been shipping from 1 warehouse should add several fulfillment centers throughout the nation either by integrating their own warehouses or addressing third-parties.

As fulfillment gets dispersed, companies will need new inventory and order management systems.

What’s Next

At the time of writing, some cities and states were rolling back their launching apps, such as mask orders, and still suffering from the pandemic. It’s getting more challenging to imagine a v-shaped recovery.

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After the coronavirus is a thing of the past, the investments retailers have made in hastening their digital transformations will still pay off. The firms which become better at engaging and communicating with clients will most likely benefit long-term.

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