How Retail Stores Can Make Use of Technology To Overcome The Effects Of The Covid-19 Pandemic

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This was how 2019 ended for most business owners out there. After going through ups and down in their businesses, owners finally decided to make some strategic changes in their organizations, invest in disruptive technologies like blockchain development, data science, artificial intelligence and more, recruit niche specialists, make way for boosted employee morale, optimize workflows, revamp their websites and what not.

The plans had been charted by the end of 2019 and for millions of business people out there, 2020 was all about hope. Right from the earlier start of the century, we’ve all been looking forward to 2020 not just because it sounded fancy or has had pop-culture mentioning but because it was seen as a significant milestone in a lot of ways.

For businesses, especially, 2020 was for business growth.

But somehow an intangible virus originated from one of the least expected places in the world and has been causing havoc ever since.

While we braced ourselves for another world war, changed our lifestyles to curb the impact of climate change and global warming, a small virus seeped in rattled things up badly.

This outbreak of the pandemic is nothing less than a wakeup call – specifically for business owners as this marks the paradigm shift in the way consumers think and function.

The Covid-19 situation challenges our understanding of the market as we know exists now and brings in a sea of topsy-turvy changes we never foresaw.

This post is all about shedding light on how the pandemic is affecting the retail sectors. If you’re a retail store owner, you would also find insights on how you could go about setting up your store for business post the pandemic and how you could avoid losses due to similar situations in the future.

Threats Covid-19 Has Brought In To The Retail Sector

We’ve all been reading about the impact of corona virus in the world. We’ve been exposed to so much news and reports that we’re all familiar with the numbers.

So, let’s not get into the specifics on the situation here but the sentiment of it.

The outbreak firstly disrupted normalcy in the retail sector. Before the pandemic, we had no hesitation in walking into a retail store to make our purchases. Casual visits to malls and shopping complexes were normal. The retail sector too had regular business and incoming cash flow if not flourishing.

But post Covid-19, these are the changes evident.

Decreased Footfalls

With an intention to curb the spreading of the virus and keep community transmission at bay, several governments across the globe brought in strict regulations into practice. From strict complete lock downs to shelter-in-places, actions were taken to prevent people from gathering at places.

This had a direct influence on the retail sector as it led to a decreased footfall. There are two aspects to this –
● People are too sceptical to step outside to purchase something due to the fear of contracting the virus
● They don’t have a purpose to buy things because of the pandemic and the lockdown

However, this isn’t the trend with some retail stores like supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies. These are the outlets that are seeing an increased influx in footfall mainly because of panic buying and hoarding essentials. For instance, supermarkets in the UK witnessed a 20.6% hike in sales during the month of March because of panic hoarding.

Business Sustenance

Decreased footfall translates to decreased business. This in turn results in the shops being unable to pay their bills such as space rents, electricity, salaries and more. This situation is taking a heavy toll on small to medium sized business, where the hardship to run the business is heavy, especially when there are countries with lockdown periods extending to several months. A business with minimal to zero revenue is bound to crumble.

Safety and Hygiene Standards

In the stores that have been relaxed from strict rules and regulations, the necessity to maintain hygiene protocols have become critical. Despite the need for a few essentials becoming inevitable, consumers are still hesitant to step into a retail store because of the uncertainty it poses. With migrants leaving to their homes and with the additional burden of working with temporary staff, they have to ensure social distancing is maintained, masks and protective gears are always on and most importantly, the staff know the dire consequences of being lethargic to safety measures.

Besides these, concerns on maintaining supply-chain of goods and products is also difficult with several places closing boundaries.

Technology To The Rescue Of Retail Stores

There’s a lot retail owners are dealing with right now. While we’ve been covering the effects of the pandemic on retail stores and owners, there is hope.

Hope in what we call technology.

Technology has always been a beacon light guiding us towards progress and during times like these, that’s the only entity that could resurrect our lost hope, businesses and everything in between.

So, for all the shattered owners out there, let’s find out how we could incorporate technology into our businesses and make way for revenue during and after the pandemic.

On-demand Services

What the pandemic has caused is a significant shift in the mindset of consumers. Gen Z and millennials aside, even generation x and their previous generations have now gotten a taste of on-demand services.

The convenience of E-commerce has been well experienced by people across the world so much to the extent that this could be the norm after the outbreak subsides.

If you didn’t know, Amazon experienced a hike in its online orders that was equivalent to the numbers it witnessed during Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals. Considering the surge in numbers, Amazon had to employ an additional 100,000 employees in its warehouse to keep up with the demand.

Technically, social distancing is the future until a vaccine is created and supplied. Until then, responsibility is on us to prevent another wave of outbreak. In such cases, business owners cannot expect footfalls to increase once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Instead, they should foresee the future and adapt to emerging trends. That’s why the wisest choice would be to take your business online. Setting up an online portal for your products and services is inevitable if you intend to sustain your business.

Local and targeted marketing with optimized supply-chain management will ensure your business never runs out of consumers.

To get started, you could think about getting a website or mobile app development depending on the niche and requirements of your business.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality has always been an underutilized technology. But now this could define the future of your business. If you’re an owner of an apparel or a jewellery store, it would be complementary to incorporate augmented reality into your business.

This will remove clouds of scepticism involved in buying from your store because your customers would be able to virtually try out your collection and proceed to buy. Companies like Lenskart are already implementing this and this would prove beneficial to your business.

Marketing Collaterals For Your Business

When a potential customer walks into your store, they are greeted by a salesperson who understands the customer’s concerns and offers a personalized service. Now, you could feel this is impossible in the digital medium.

That’s where educational content comes into action. Your visitors only have their problem in mind and they visit your website to look for a probable solution. It is now that you offer your useful content such as brochures, ebooks, videos or other resources to help your customer get a comprehensive idea of the solution you intend to offer.

Once the customer is enlightened, you push sales, which translates to conversion. The more creative you get, the more captivating your customers are.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has been around for close to a decade now but it is now that it is inevitable. With limited places to go, all your customers are online on their preferred blogs, websites, video streaming websites, games, productivity places and more.

It is on you to reach out where they are. That’s why digital marketing is important. From paid advertisements and organic rankings to influencer marketing, your strategy should revolve around bringing traffic to your Ecommerce store. If a neat website is in place, you don’t have to do anything else to push sales.

One of the other reasons why getting started with digital market right now is essential because experts are anticipating the onset of what is called revenge shopping. Due to the lockdown and restrictions in place, consumers are anxiously waiting to break out and shot to their heart’s content.

This overindulgence is termed as revenge shopping and it has already begun in China, where close to $2.7mn was made by a single store in a day. In countries like India, this is anticipated to happen soon post lockdown, where millennials are expected to go on a shopping rage.

So, your job right now is to build an amazing E-commerce website Development, set up all the required marketing channels, get the messaging right and start targeting your audience as early as next week. The sooner you start, the better advantage you have.

Wrapping Up

Now would be the best time to go Glocal. For a lot of business owners, this could seem daunting as it appears like a lot of work. What is not? You put in an equal amount of effort in building your retail store from scratch offline remember?

This is possible and that’s why we recommend starting now. With lockdowns extensions on the card and with the minds of consumers changing, you could define your future today.

And if this is too difficult for you, we recommend getting in touch with us. We are digital business pioneers who would help you not only take your business online but generate revenue from it. From getting a website or an app developed to marketing it, make use of our services during the pandemic and create a better tomorrow for everyone.

Bhavesh Parekh
Bhavesh Parekh is a Chief Technology Officer of X-Byte Enterprise Solutions, an ever-emerging Top Web and Mobile App Development Company with a motto of turning clients into successful businesses. He believes that client's success is company's success and so that he always makes sure that X-Byte helps their client's business to reach to its true potential with the help of his best team with the standard development process he set up for the company.

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