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  • Heather Petrone

What Retail Will Look Like in a Post Pandemic World

Contactless shopping and curbside pick-ups – these are just a couple of ways retail managed to operate during Covid-19. As more and more people get vaccinated, will some of these pandemic-related habits last? Society is opening back up, so what will retail look like next?


There’s a lot of talk in the industry about unique partnerships and disruptive experiences spawned by the pandemic. Let’s take a look at what may be trending next.


HYBRID EXPERIENCES


One word we keep hearing is “Hybrid.” People were forced to move out of their comfort zone and leverage technology. Let’s face it, how many companies finally used Microsoft Teams and Zoom more than ever before? It’s the same with shoppers. My mom never knew what Instacart was before the pandemic, now most of her grocery shopping is done with the app. People are going to go hybrid. They’ll work from home and go to an office, just like they will shop at home and in a store. Amazon, Shipt, and Instacart saw growth during the pandemic out of customer necessity. Now that more Americans know how to use these technologies, expect shoppers to buy both online and in the store.



UNIQUE PARTNERSHIPS


Our Space-Planning expert, Shawn Gaddy said it best, “Retailers are going to need to change their footprint and lease out space. Best Buy survived the Amazon challenge by leasing out some of their prime real estate. The store within a store concept is growing.” Walgreens currently has a partnership with Village Medical and is utilizing its retail footprint to offer full-service primary care clinics on site. 500-700 of these clinics will open across the US in the next five years.


While the store within a store concept is growing among retailers, it’s not the only way companies are forming partnerships. Albertson’s is partnering with Google to make products easier to find through Google maps, utilizing the Google Cloud and artificial intelligence, and also streamlining check outs with Google Pay.



EXPERIENTIAL ENVIRONMENTS


Although sales for both deodorants and make-up dropped considerably in 2020, beauty products are on the rise. People are showing they want to get out and be seen (and hopefully smell good again, too!) Our Experiential marketing company MAG in New York has seen a demand for experiential events. Making memories out of shopping experiences can create a stronger bond between the brand and the consumer. Expect to see more fun experiential events and pop-ups in localized areas.


FULFILLMENT CENTERS


Target, Walmart, Amazon, these are retailers who are currently opening more and more fulfillment centers to get products faster to both retail and online shoppers. Target is still undergoing construction on its new fulfillment center in Logan Township, NJ that’s set to open later this year. Walmart is evening converting some of its brick-and-mortar stores into distribution centers to keep up with the e-commerce demand. Expect to see more of this from these retail giants.



OTHER TECHNOLOGIES


Besides just shopping online now, did you know you can try on make-up without ever stepping into a store or without actually putting on products? Augmented Reality is becoming increasingly popular among brands. Sephora, Sally beauty, even Ikea offers augmented experiences to help shoppers experience before they buy.


Customer service is changing, too. Did you know our sister company BDSmktg offers a solution called Tap-a-tech? Your brand can have its own brand ambassador available to chat with customers via video. Customers can video chat with a sales rep without stepping foot in the store. And with BDSmktg’s BrightShop solution, customers can chat with brand ambassador and product experts in a virtual and branded shopping environment. BrightShops can be installed just about anywhere – even a home office!


These are just some of the ways we see retail changing in this post-pandemic world.

The future is never what it used to be. Retailers are being forced yet again to listen to customers and figure out what they value in this ever-evolving landscape.

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