Greater integration between physical and digital points, contactless stores and increasingly personalized service make up the new retail experience due to transformations triggered or accelerated by the new coronavirus pandemic. In order to retain the consumers that were gained during social isolation, online channels will have to offer increasingly fluid and convenient journeys. The physical stores will have to invest in omnichannel, contactless solutions and inventory virtualization. Check out some of the strategies that will shape retail in the COVID-19 era.
Physical points of sale should increasingly become hybrid spaces, with omnichannel reinforcement and more use of digital solutions. An example in this area is the Walmart Seamless Shopping project, anchored in the use of mobile to display product information, customize orders and finalize the purchase operation.
According to a KPMG study on the transformations in consumption because of the pandemic, "the capacity to explore various devices and channels and offer a true omnichannel experience is decisive for e-commerce."
A significant change should take place in how products are displayed at physical points of sale. A panel held by Unity during LIONS Live estimated that by 2030, physical stores will work as virtual showrooms, with a large 3D inventory on display.
The use of 3D has also been growing in online shopping. Using data from partners Shopify and Rebecca Minkoff, Unity showed results that are already being obtained with the use of this technology in e-commerce and pointed out that consumers who interact with 3D models have 4.4 times more chances to add the product to the shopping cart and 2.5 times more chances to complete the purchase.
An assessment done by Harvard Business Review points out another movement that should become more intense in physical points of sale: the transformation of these spaces into leisurely experiences, giving people a break from the problems outside. The stores of the eyewear brand Gentle Monster are a great example, since they look like art galleries. The KPMG study highlights that, “Physical stores will have to offer consumers new reasons to shop offline."
By using emerging technologies such as virtual reality, brands will increasingly explore the senses and immersive content to show the unique aspects of their products – both online and offline. Data presented by Unity at LIONS Live estimates that, over the next five years, brands that embrace immersive AR and VR experiences will be positioned among the 25% of companies with better financial results in their categories.
And also, in terms of reducing human contact in physical stores, service automation should increase, as shown by a KFC project in Russia, which uses artificial intelligence to serve consumers, and robots to deliver products to customers.