new normal in retail

Short-term, mid-term and long-term "new normal" in retail

Getting into the next "new normal" in retail

By Tom Vieweger

June 8 2020

Now that stores are opening again, we are all more or less getting used to the new normal in retail. Driven by reality, consumer behaviour is swiftly adopting online shopping. It seems to be safe to say that significant opportunities for the future of retail are digital – this has not only been true since ‘Corona.’ Shoppers spend much of their time with their smartphones, using news feeds, social media, and shopping apps. This became just drastically obvious in the time of the shutdown of stores and showed how vital digital sales channels are.

No matter how the exact development will be, one thing seems to be sure: the role of stores is (ever) changing. Of course, stores will always be a place where people come together. However, there is another aspect arising. Stores will act as a ‘mini DC,’ ‘micro hub,’ or ‘Omni-fulfillment centre.’ Name it as you want; the symbiotic relation becomes more and more apparent: e-commerce needs stores, and stores need e-commerce!

New technologies can aid in "social-distance selling" by helping retailers limit physical contact, reduce time spent in stores, avoid large groups of people, and even utilize stores to fulfill online orders

Vogue Business

Short-term 'new normal': line up, wait and be safe

Many countries and regions around the globe are 'restarting' and allow stores to open again. Especially fashion retailers expect another boost in sales and frequency when restaurants are opening as well. These days, stores have to react agilely to new regulations and the individual needs of the customers. It has become a reality that restrictions, especially distance rules, will continue for a more extended period to guarantee employee and customer safety.

Mid-term 'new normal': trust, sustainability, and confidence

In times when consumers will shop more consciously, the focus is on sustainability and quality. Also, shopping goes back to local. People buy locally and don't necessarily drive to the next big city. There is a high loyalty to local stores, where customers feel familiar, where they know the faces, and can expect trusted advice.

In terms of sustainability, longevity is crucial. Customers want to wear the products for longer, trust the quality and its provenance. Especially in the world of online commerce, it's a challenge to keep track of the origin of products, since the distribution channels are often anonymous.

Note: our webinar about "RFID & Sustainability" will further elaborate on that topic. Check it out here.

Long-term 'new normal': online takes centre stage

Promoting the store's stock in an online marketplace is creating a lot of additional sales opportunities. Consequently, it is necessary to bring stocks online. Digital and analytics can not only drive top-line growth. It also significantly improves speed, cost, flexibility, and sustainability across the supply chain. This means that a fully integrated management of stock in stores and warehouses is core to any omnichannel operation. Making all stock visible to customers on any channel has proved to boost sales.

Stores are transforming into 'micro DCs,' small and local fulfilment centres that make sure to fulfil orders wherever they are coming from.

Stores are becoming "micro DCs" 

In a world where physical distancing continues, shoppers are reducing their visits to brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, e-commerce and automation are rising. I notice that retailers start to restructure their stores, especially by rededicating floor space to storage. This enables them to use it for the fulfilment of online orders. It looks like stores are becoming 'micro DCs,' small and local fulfilment centres that make sure to fulfil orders wherever they are coming from. This model allows retailers to continue to make sales while limiting the number of people who are in the store at one time. For the consumer, the main benefit is that shipping times are much shorter as items are shipped from the closest store.

Tom Vieweger
RFID business expert
Tom Vieweger