Earlier on this week, the retail industry within the UK finally received some positive news with the announcement that stores would be permitted to re-open in England on Monday 15th June.
Last week, Drapers Online shared the ways in which Kurt Geiger are preparing to facilitate a post COVID-19 consumer experience implementing additional health & safety measures in stores. From pop socks becoming mandatory to shoes going into quarantine for 24 hours after shoppers try a pair for sizing, Kurt Geiger are leaving no stone unturned with ensuring consumers in-store are offered as safe an environment as possible during the current pandemic (Fish, 2020).
Taking account of retail’s significant growth of e-commerce and the subsequent fall in the popularity of physical stores globally in recent years, which has undoubtedly been further exacerbated by the current pandemic, Kurt Geiger and other retailers’ efforts in attempting to make the entire customer experience as safe as possible post-COVID-19 must be applauded.
The short-term yet unfamiliar challenge of physical stores trying to generate footfall – albeit now in a more controlled manner will prove a challenge with findings from McKinsey & Co. suggesting that 36% of senior retail executives believe it will take at least 6 months for store traffic to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels (Adhi, Davis, Jayakumar and Touse, 2020). To compensate for the unavailability of many physical retail stores, total sales taking place online are predicted to rise from 17% pre-COVID-19 to 26% post-COVID-19.
Despite all of this, there should always be a demand from consumers to shop in physical stores. Fashion United reported that Hermès’ Guangzhou flagship re-opening in April led to a staggering $2.7m USD of sales in 1 day (Fraser, 2020). Even Amazon recognise that there is still a case for physical stores in a retail environment where e-commerce & DTC appear to grow daily. Natalie Berg (retail analyst for NBK Retail) makes the very valid argument that very few people exclusively shop online or only in-store, they marry the best of both worlds and consumers have an increasing expectancy from retailers to show flexibility with the provision of their offering (Schaverien, 2018).
Whilst the importance of a strong e-commerce offering has been considered paramount in recent times, it could be suggested that the key to overall longevity within retail is a holistic omnichannel offering. Lane Crawford have demonstrated how successful this can be with their omnichannel customers reportedly spending seven times more than single-channel customers.
Macy’s have also understood the value between online & offline integration for many years. Application of beacon technology allowing retailers like Macy’s to send personalised offers to shoppers’ smartphones based on their proximity to physical stores being one way in which digital channels can stimulate both online and offline buying activity.
Combining the ever increasing necessity of a clear online strategy and going above and beyond to care for the overall safety of customers in-store should certainly help retailers in what will be a turbulent post COVID-19 environment.
Following this and given the UK Government’s recent announcement in mind, we can help prepare for the necessary transition of making physical stores a safe environment and have accumulated 15 years of experience with globally sourcing PPE products.
Adhi, P., Davis, A., Jayakumar, J. and Touse, S. (2020, April 23). How retailers are preparing for the post-coronavirus recovery. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/how-retailers-are-preparing-for-the-post-coronavirus-recovery
Fish, I. (2020, May 22). Kurt Geiger issues store reopening plans. Drapers. Retrieved from https://www.drapersonline.com/news/kurt-geiger-issues-store-reopening-plans
Fraser, K. (2020, April 13). Hermès Guangzhou flagship takes in 2.7 million dollars in one Saturday. Fashion United. Retrieved from https://fashionunited.uk/news/retail/hermes-guangzhou-flagship-takes-in-2-7-million-dollars-in-one-saturday/2020041348441
Schaverien, A. (2018, December 29). Five Reasons Why Amazon Is Moving Into Bricks-And-Mortar Retail. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/annaschaverien/2018/12/29/amazon-online-offline-store-retail/#71fa99875128