The following is an interview I had the pleasure of taking part in with Raydiant.
What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021?
Scan and Go in the grocery store – no need to visit the checkout and have the member of staff ‘touch’ groceries.
Online – specifically, anything that reduces human touchpoints along the path to purchase.
Trying on clothes, testing cosmetics, etc. are all not allowed currently, so any tech that allows shoppers to virtually interact will be welcomed.
Stores need to be really aware that shoppers are actively avoiding shopping on the one hand but enforced lockdowns (no pubs or restaurants) are making others go to shops just to be with other humans. So, any tech that creates a safer shopping environment will be welcomed.
Proof of vaccination? Shoppers who do visit bricks and mortar will want some reassurance that if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, others have too.
Pay to join loyalty cards (a la Tesco). Driving shopper loyalty by having them invest to get bigger discounts in bricks and mortar (a bit like Amazon Prime online).
One last point: sustainability is gaining traction and we know from our research that shoppers see it as the responsibility of the retailer to be sustainable. So how will they do it? Less plastic, more ‘fill your own packs’, technically advanced packaging that is less wasteful, etc.
What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?
- Find their points of difference: new products to try, multi-sensory experience, the security of having a physical building, plus more.
- Clean, clean, clean and get the message out there that they are sterile and hygienic places (more so than their competitors).
- For many, price is less important, so use other footfall drivers (hygiene, shopper personal space, etc.). Psychologically, staying alive is better than saving a few dollars.
In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what does the future of brick and mortar retail look like?
I think this splits into two:
- Some, like grocers, are thriving and will continue to do so (a needed resource);
- Others, like clothing, will struggle pastime has been decimated and won’t return in 2021
One thing is for certain: shoppers have changed and so expecting retail to revert to the way it was pre-covid is frankly naive. You need to get out there and do some NEW research as to what shoppers want now, what their needs are, how they are emotionally, why they will and won’t shop bricks and mortar, etc.
After the research, make real and tangible shopper-oriented change, then shout your actions from the rooftops!