They say it takes only 21 days to form a new habit. Well, 12 weeks of lockdown has seen people of all ages and types move online and this is unlikely to reverse back to pre-Covid levels, meaning our shopping patterns have been changed forever.
Inditex, the parent company of Zara and one of the most successful retailers in the world, is responding fast – announcing it will close up to 1,200 stores worldwide and spend $1bn (£807m) accelerating its digital transformation.
In a statement chief executive Pablo Isla said: “The overriding goal between now and 2022 is to speed up full implementation of our integrated store concept, driven by the notion of being able to offer our customers uninterrupted service no matter where they find themselves, on any device and at any time of the day.”
Almost every retail business will need to follow suit.
Embarking on this journey can seem daunting, especially in this environment, but there are some great retailers already setting the example and incredible innovative solutions helping them to achieve it.
Those who haven’t been afraid to readjust the way they do things have been the ones to really prosper during the Covid crisis.
Going the extra mile during the pandemic
During the crisis consumer tolerance was high and people continue to be accommodating, but this will fade quickly as we get back to some sort of normality.
Shoppers will remember brands that made an effort to mitigate the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
Using innovation to reduce unnecessary visits through better online communication, and reducing queuing through appointment setting is paramount
Using innovation to reduce unnecessary visits through better online communication, and reducing queuing through appointment setting is paramount.
Furniture Village recognised this immediately and rolled out a new appointment platform in a couple of weeks.
Commercial director Charlie Harrison said he was “blown away” with the results: ”Appointments are converting to sales at between 50% and 80%. The headline for us was the May bank holiday weekend. Across three days we took 1,046 appointments, from not having a booking system in place two weeks before.”
Connecting online and store experience gives customers more ways to shop and ultimately increases their lifetime value.
With consumers demand for speed unwavering, order fulfillment from local stores is becoming increasingly appealing. Local fulfilment gives customers more options, such as same day shipping and click and collect.
Signet Jewellers is taking it one step further, using solutions to bring the store into their customers’ homes.
Using video technology Signet Jewellers launched a new selling channel that connects customers to retail staff remotely.
Digital director Matthew Gratze said he wanted to make sure customers were able to connect with sales staff for the inspiration and advice that would usually be received in a face to face conversations inside the store.
“Utlising video technology has been a big hit with our customers, and also sales colleagues, as they can have those crucial conversations to help move the customer journey along”
Matthew Gratze, Signet Jewellers
“We can now utilise video technology to have that face to face discussion, or even showcase our products. This has been a big hit with our customers, and also sales colleagues, as they can have those crucial conversations to help move the customer journey along.”
Empowering store staff to handle local customer queries and communication transforms a retailer’s relationship with its customers. It strengthens trust and in turn boosts turnover, something the retail industry is striving to do as the sector adapts to new consumer habits.
Fergal O’Mullane is chief executive and founder of Validify
Click here to read first-hand accounts of how leading retailers have adapted their business in the wake of Covid and gain 24 quick ideas to help you reopen your stores safely and successfully.