Retail & Technology – The Corona Pandemic
Can Retail Technology mitigate Corona pandemic impact?
A few months in, it’s safe to say that Retail was one of the industries that were impacted the most by the pandemic.
While some retailers struggled, others were able to adapt to the circumstances and succeed during the troubled times.
An example, Walmart, saw a 20% jump in sales during March, and a 190% increase in their shopping mobile app.
Their stock performance (NYSE:WMT) reflects their results, as seen below:
Generally, grocery retailers ended up performing well, as people ran and stocked the essentials in their homes.
On the other hand, the vast majority of retailers did very poorly, the phenomenon is already called the ‘Retail Apocalypse’. It’s no surprise, as we saw a large number of some of the largest brick-and-mortar retailers in the world filing for bankruptcy.
All of this further proved that some retailers were more prepared than others.
One of the main differences between retailers that did well and ones that didn’t was how well adapted they were to e-commerce.
Facing this reality, retailers saw an unprecedented urgency to adopt new trends and get creative.
A lot of new technologies were adopted at an accelerated rate, making the pandemic act as a catalyst.
Here’s the three most relevant:
1. Contactless and digital payments
Contactless payments are not new — they’ve been around for some time now, and they’re easier now to make than ever.
From your physical card to your smartphone and even your smartwatch, they’ve never been so acessible.
Nevertheless, many retailers and users were still overlooking this technology.
With the need to avoid direct contact with possible contamination surfaces, contactless payments were in the right place at the right time.
This resulted in a 150% increase in the use of contactless technology during March, in the US.
Besides contactless payments, we’ve also witnessed a surge in various fintech apps digital payments.
A trend that will definitely stay around, now that users and retailers have witnessed how convenient it truly is.
This retail technology ended up proving vital for Retailers to reduce the corona pandemic impact.
2. BOPIS / Click & Collect
With governments placing restrictions on retailers (as far as forcing them to close) they had to make changes.
One of the most common restrictions a limitation on the number of people that could be inside the retailer’s space simultaneously.
This limitation often started creating queue lines at the entrance, with customers having to wait for long periods of time to enter the space.
This limitation was especially hard for retail centers, such as shopping malls, since their stores were often forced to close.
One of the trends that was already present and growing, but saw an increase was the use of BOPIS systems.
A lot of retailers, and even shopping malls created ‘drive-in’ concepts, where the customer could buy something upfront, and quickly pick it up, avoiding queue lines and even entering the space.
Having BOPIS systems well structured and implemented proved to be a great resource.
The use of smart lockers to create fully contactless autonomous pick-up points was also one of the winning trends.
We were able to witness this use-case first-hand, providing our solution to one of the biggest shopping mall operators in Europe.
This is one of the first shared BOPIS lockers, that allows all shopping mall retailers to use this service.
Quick and effective, it’s fully running and available to all the retailers in the shopping mall.
Find more about it here.
3. e-Commerce & digital channels
One of, if not the most, decisive factors was whether retailers were already selling their products online or not.
If retail had a break, e-commerce on the other hand saw a major surge, as people saw themselves forced to buy online in order to maintain social distancing and safety.
Retailers who already had established online shops, benefited tremendously, as their client base kept buying from them.
The ones who didn’t… saw their client base buy elsewhere.
There are also lots of initiatives to simplify the process of selling online for smaller retailers and businesses.
As a result, a lot of small businesses successfully made the transition and were able to keep their business alive.
Conclusion – The future
Although we’ve already seen a lot of change in the retail space, and as the pandemic seems to slow down in some countries, there’s a wide belief that a second wave might hit.
Therefore, and after being able to witness the results of adapting to the new needs, most retailers will now prepare themselves for a second wave, trying to minimize its impact on their operations.
And there are many others innovative solutions being implemented in order to make retail safe, once again.
It’s key that retailers adapt new Retail technology to adapt and mitigate the impact of the Corona pandemic.
At Bloq.it, we’re confident that retailers will adapt, and that customers will benefit in the long term.
If you would like to know more about how to implement an automated contactless pick-up point, let’s chat!
Founder & COO @ Bloq.it