Technology will drive revolution going forward and retailers must invest in tech infrastructure and work towards improving their facilities. From check-out free to touch-free shopping, merchandising to transactions, technology will accelerate the industry reducing physical interaction.
sector has exponentially evolved in the last few years marked by growing awareness among consumers, rise in disposable incomes, changing behavior and growing integration of online and offline retail formats. As shoppers become more demanding, retailers have had to innovate by transforming merchandise, marketing techniques, presence and appeal in order to remain relevant for its customers.
With COVID-19 changing the consumer sentiment and lifestyle, it has also hastened the adaptation of technology in this industry. Being online and having a robust backend isn’t optional anymore for any retailer. Every retailer is adopting digital ways at a much faster pace and is investing into technology to improve quality of service. We expect this fast-paced digitalisation to open new opportunities and drive change in the sector.
Omni channel retailing
COVID 19 has made buying virtually more real than it has ever been and retailers have started looking at innovative ways of improving sales, such as providing virtual trial rooms and video-based sales calling. With this the integration between offline and online retail is likely to grow further. Businesses are exploring integration strategies to enrich the customer value proposition and/or reduce costs. The focus is now on creating a unified shopping experience for customers across different marketing / sales channels.
Technology will revolutionise retail spaces
Technology will drive revolution going forward and retailers must invest in tech infrastructure and work towards improving their facilities. From check-out free to touch-free shopping, merchandising to transactions, technology will accelerate the industry reducing physical interaction. Retailers should look at permanent technological innovation in the form of apps, automated replenishments, electronic rewards programs, crowd control measures, contactless shopping and touchless technology
‘Phygital’ spaces, a merger of physical and digital retail with the help of virtual reality and artificial intelligence is slowly entering the retail space in India and the trend is expected to grow further. Both online & physical stores are likely to embrace immersive technologies and intelligence to understand consumer psychology and requirement. We expect better collaboration between landlords and tenants on data analytics as well, considering it’s the need of the hour.
Shopping Spaces are changing with the times
The retail stores are here to stay, and apart from being just a point of sale for the brands, they will also serve as a platform to attract, engage and retain consumers. Retailers are looking at creating unique experiences for their customers and are looking for high quality spaces, which are unfortunately low in supply.
At CBRE, we expect changes and improvements in store design and inventory management, with reduction of POS counters and utilization of mobile systems. Improving product displays and store designs are going to increase in focus on the experiential aspect. To help enable omni channel retailing, there could be areas dedicated to for pickup/exchange/return. The F&B sector could also offer a dedicated area for pick-ups of online orders. Last-mile stores are also expected to gain further traction in the coming year, as newer business formats emerge that allow people to order everything online.
Brands could also differentiate their retail offering with flagship stores, regular showrooms, specialty stores & pop-ups, thereby giving flexibility to interact with the specific customers when the demand arises and how they would like to interact.
Though contact-less shopping and home deliveries will become a norm, it is expected that malls and store design may shift away from the standard enclosed big box layout towards the inclusion of more green and outdoor areas to provide an experience with better light and ventilation. Going forward, these developments are expected to shape the way people have been shopping in malls or high streets.
Impact of changes in the entertainment sector
Multiplex companies have faced the brunt of COVID-19 pandemic, with approx. 8 months of complete closure. Even after becoming operational, they are coping with a shortage of content, as many producers have released their films on OTT platforms or have delayed releases. Shopping center industry relies on the multiplexes for sustained footfalls and repeat visitation of customers and therefore, new content will eventually bring back customers to malls. Additionally, active engagement is required to bring back kids and teens into the arcade centers following complete safety norms.
Safety and health will play a pivotal role
Going forward, keeping in mind the health and safety of employees and customers should be the utmost priority among retailers and developers alike. Improving the hygiene and safety precautions along with stringent adoption of sanitization and social distancing guidelines will be key in winning back customers’ confidence.
As per a recent global survey by CBRE, 48% of the retailers expected demand to improve in 2021 with consumers to drive sales upwards and India will see a similar trend as the retailer activity is picking up. With rapidly evolving consumer preferences and attitudes, retailers and businesses must embrace the change and prepare for transformation in order to provide a seamless shopping experience to consumers. With the emerging technology, and rise of omni-channel retailing, retailers need to revamp and recalibrate their business strategies and integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning to create new experiences and gain consumer trust in a post-Covid world.
Published By ET Retail