COVID-19 has spread around the world and millions of people have been forced to change their lifestyle habits drastically. This has caused the population to adopt new consumer behaviors and habits. Experts predict that some of these behaviors will prevail once confinement is over. It is likely that the challenges retailers face in the near future as a result of this outbreak will accelerate the use of new and existing technologies and tools, only then will they be able to deal more confidently with the inevitable uncertainty of the upcoming months. How can retailers face the abrupt change of customer behavior and habits in the post COVID-19 era?
It seems clear that a significant part of the consumer habits linked to quarantine can be consolidated once quarantine ends. It will be very important for all retailers to understand this change in their customers’ consumption habits and how this will affect their products demand, in order to adapt their offer and their stores to these new patterns. Focusing on What and How: What products and services your current customer demand, and how they expect the purchasing process to be.
But despite all the uncertainty we face, experts agree and foresee certain trends that may mark our near future.
Such an abrupt change in consumption patterns will pose a huge challenge to retailers. Having the stores properly supplied with the products that customers will demand has never been more complex. And if we predict that it will be gradual and slow to recover customer traffic to physical stores, it will be more important than ever to have stores supplied with products that customers will be looking for.
Amid all this uncertainty and change, what is completely true is that nothing lasts forever, not even the coronavirus crisis. And not all of it is bad news. Today the large volume of data available and technologies such as artificial intelligence, can help enormously on current challenges. Solutions specially designed for the sector, like a smart platform for retail merchandising as NEXTAIL can help enormously, anticipating localized demand and delivering automated, data-driven decisions, turning insights directly into action to boost operational efficiency.
All of these minor changes in the way how consumers buy are producing profound changes in the customer’s journey, and the experience they expect during the purchase process. These readjustments in the purchasing process produce notable changes in the needs and configuration of the store in terms of physical space and personnel planning and scheduling.
In order to adapt the store resources to the new needs redefined by the new consumption patterns it is important to deeply understand the current store circumstances, and customer priorities.
Again there is also good news, nowadays you can generate valuable data and monitor the store operations and performance as never before Store performance monitoring and analytics solutions such as ShopperTrak Retail Analytics suite scientifically monitors and measures shopper traffic, behavior and conversion data. This provides valuable insight into where retail organizations can improve their marketing, and operational strategies, to deliver the most profitable results.
But you can still go further improving operational efficiency with technologies such as artificial intelligence, which can help enormously to make better decisions. Solutions such as ORQUEST, a smart in-store staff planning and scheduling platform can help you to improve the workforce productivity and efficiency, avoiding cost overruns and poor customer service.
How does it do that? just discovering the insight that allows you to rightly answer the key questions that arise in the following crucial steps in the workforce management.
In short, all retailers face the reopening of stores and the search for the desired normality, with total uncertainty, where nothing previously known will make sense in the coming months or perhaps years. Everything will change, the product demand, the volume of customers who decide to visit the stores, how they will visit the store and how they will carry out the purchase process itself. The use of the latest technologies and solutions with powerful algorithms and data analysis models based on artificial intelligence, will be a crucial help to face the uncertainty of the next months with more security and confidence.
And now think, what about you? How are you going to face the uncertainty and abrupt changes in trends inherent in the post COVID-19 era? Do you think that applying previous models and/or intuition will be enough to afford the challenge we will face in the next months?
C007/20-ED. 2020 call for proposals on technological development based on artificial intelligence and other digital enabling technologies within the framework of the strategic action of digital economy and society of the state R&D&I program