COVID-19 has undeniably changed our world and the Canadian retail industry, but exactly how will those changes affect the long-term?
As we look at the future of retail post-COVID-19, there are still many uncertainties. However, we are seeing some ongoing trends that could indicate what shifts are here to stay.
a) More Automation
One of the fallouts of COVID-19 has been a fast-forward on digital transformation, including automation.
Automation was on the rise pre-COVID, but with physical distancing guidelines and the need for contactless interactions, it has grown even more throughout the pandemic — both behind-the-scenes (such as supply chain automation) and in-store.
Automated retail solutions like vending machines, kiosks, and micro-markets are providing another revenue channel for brands and a way to be in more places without increasing staff.
As we move past COVID-19, this trend will likely continue to grow.
b) Surge in eCommerce
As with automation, eCommerce has also seen a rapid rise in Canada since COVID-19 began — and many consumers say they plan to keep shopping online even after the pandemic ends.
This means that online delivery and curbside pickup could be a continuing retail trend post-COVID-19 — and one for brands to leverage.
With digital retail here to stay, the question becomes how to optimize it at scale and while maintaining a profit. Some retailers, such as Sobeys, are moving to create their own delivery platforms.
At Storesupport, we recently launched expanded eCommerce services that assist with eCommerce order fulfillment, digital brand management, eCommerce site management, and more.
c) Changing Consumer Behaviour
Much of the long-term change post-COVID-19 will be driven by consumer behaviour, and already we have seen some shifts.
For instance, Retail Insider reported that 83% of Canadian consumers are limiting the number of times they shop and that this behaviour change could last into the foreseeable future.
Additionally, more consumers are thinking about their health when shopping. And not only their health, but the health of the climate as well. Retail Insider reported that 50% of consumers are shopping more health consciously, 45% are making more sustainable choices, and 67% are focusing more on limiting food waste.
COVID has also shifted some consumer loyalties. Strategy Online recently reported on evolving consumer trust throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, noting some vast differences in the post-pandemic results.
Brands such as Canada Post, Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix, and CTV News moved up the list, as did many grocers.
Long-term, we expect to see more shifts in consumer behaviour and, as a result, associated changes in retail.
d) Omnichannel Retail
As public health guidelines kept shoppers out of some stores, or limited intake, it became even more important for brands to take an omnichannel approach.
Relying on just one channel may not be enough. Having the capacity to be more places and have more streams of revenue can create more resilient businesses — as we have seen so far.
In addition to in-store merchandising, brands might consider adding other channels such as eCommerce, automated retail, and commercial merchandising.
There have also been some brands that have embraced Direct to Consumer (DTC) channels. Canada Goose reportedly pulled back its line from multi-brand retailers to focus on its DTC channels.
My Total Retail reported on three large omnichannel changes resulting from COVID-19: inventory optimization, omnichannel fulfillment, and remote selling.
As your channels expand, it’s important to have the resources to expand with it and keep on top of inventory across all sources — which is where having outside, national support (like Storesupport!) can come in.
e) ADAPT-able Brands
Perhaps one of the largest long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is the emphasis on being resilient and flexible.
These aren’t necessarily new concepts — they’ve been important for a while — but as the pandemic continued, they made the difference for some brands in being able to scale and maintain success.
As we deal with life post-pandemic, we know that circumstances can change on a dime. This makes it even more critical for brands to be able to change with these shifts, rather than resisting them.
At Storesupport, for instance, we have introduced new solutions that allow our clients to be more ADAPT-able. Our solutions span multi-channel and are available across Canada, from coast-to-coast. They can allow a brand or retailer to be more places in less time and scale as needed.
The post-COVID-19 Canadian retail industry may not be normal, but it can be ADAPT-able — and that’s what we’re here to help you with. Learn more about our solutions by calling 1-877-421-5081 or visiting www.storesupport.ca.
What do you think is in-store for the future of retail? Share with us on social media. Storesupport Canada is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.« Back to Blog