To what extent will the post-Covid store of the future be like the store of the past? And how has the global pandemic accelerated or arrested changes to the store estate? We look at some possible versions of the future.
When Coronavirus lockdowns were in place, all but essential shops were shuttered, supply chains under stress, and retailers looking for new ways to reach customers. This helped accelerate conversations around using the store estate differently.
Retailers experimented with dark stores during lockdown. These were closed to walk-ins but acted as fulfilment or distribution hubs for online orders or other stores. Retailers that remained open during lockdown found their stores doing double, if not treble, duty.
Stores served in-person customers and those collecting online orders. Some retailers continued to offer an endless aisles proposition, allowing customers to order out-of-stock items in-store. And others offered combinations of the above.
Stores and Generation Z
There’ll always be a place for brick and mortar in the retail mix. Shopping is an inherently human and social activity. Stores are about people. They’re where customers and staff come together. Where customers experience service, stock and the retailer’s brand.
It may come as a surprise but the most enthusiastic in-store shoppers are Generation Z. Born after 1995, these true digital natives are always-on, always connected and have never known a time before the internet. Yet according to PXP Financial research, 98% of Generation Zers prefer the experience of shopping in-store.
They are the cohort most likely to say that going to the shops is enjoyable (76%). The main reasons are trying items out before buying (73%) and making an immediate purchase (62%). For a generation conditioned to expect instant gratification, not even one-hour delivery can compete with leaving the store with a purchase.
So encouragingly, stores speak to a core, durable human need. And they’re particularly popular among younger customers. The need for them as part of the retail mix won’t change. It’s just that stores may be and look different post-Covid-19 and beyond.
Retailers were already grappling with how to utilise various sales channels interchangeably to serve customers. They may have called it different names: cross-channel, multi-channel, omni-channel. They may have been moving at different speeds.
They were certainly on different paths towards their own futures of joined-up retail before Coronavirus. This depended on their strategy, sector, customer base and geography. So, ultimately, everything and nothing has changed as a result of Covid-19.
Everything because the landscape is different, trading conditions are different and consumer confidence is different. Nothing because joined-up retail to give customers a seamless, consistent brand experience is still a requirement.
To find out more
Joined-up retail requires strong back-office payment support. Retailers need a payments partner who can help them process payments through any sales channel. And in any currency and any country in a secure and simple way.
Yet getting paid is only the start. Retailers also need a partner who can deliver a many-into-one proposition. That means a single statement, settlement date and set of rates, all on a single contract.
For more information on how one global payments partner can help maximise time, cost and efficient savings, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete your details on the contact form below.