Articles and papers written by some of the industries top thought-leaders on business strategy and transformation.

Post COVID-19, Reimagining Retail Part 3: Transition To Digital

It’s Now Or Never For The Digital Transformation Of Retail

The retail sector has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many famous brands closing their doors for good. But the truth is, retail was undergoing a long and sometimes painful transformation long before the pandemic hit. 

The paper I have written for Mythos Group takes a close look at what the future holds for retail, and offers practical guidance in several areas:

1. Employee and Customer Safety
2. Corporate Restructuring
3. Transition to Digital
4. Supply Chain Resiliency
5. Understanding Consumer Behavior

My focus here is on the transition to digital.

Those retailers that failed to develop a quality digital experience to complement their physical stores have been caught flat-footed by the acceleration of online shopping forced by the pandemic.   

Even before COVID-19, there was a noticeable shift to digital shopping, which offers greater convenience and time savings. COVID-19 related health concerns, social distancing, and other restrictions are dramatically accelerating the transition to e-commerce.  

The growth of e-commerce, in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, is driving significant disruption in the retail sector, but by leaning into this trend, retailers stand to create a powerful omnichannel business operating model.

As retailers attempt to capitalize on e-commerce, we suggest four key focus areas:

  • Digital Technology Investments: Retailers need to create reserve capital for technology investments by reducing spending on store openings and remodels to fund their digital transformation efforts. Some of the technologies needed for creating a powerful digital platform include: AI-enabled personalized marketing and content management; contactless payments; cloud-based workforce enablement; distributed order management fulfillment; and supply chain collaboration and automation. 
  • Omnichannel Customer Touchpoints: The move to digital shopping provides retailers with additional touch points to stay connected with their customers across a wide array of platforms and services.  Having unprecedented access to interact with their customers, retailers should work to build closer relationships with them.  
  • Personalizing The Customer Experience: Retailers need to focus on creating an innovative and personalized online customer experience. As digital channels increase device interaction and customer touchpoints, large amounts of data are made available on how, when, what, and why consumers shop. By analyzing this data and using AI, retailers can anticipate the changing preferences of their customers and deliver an experience consistent with their wants and needs.   
  • Visual Search: Visual search is “the ability to use an image to search for identical or related visual assets”. Retailers should incorporate visual search as a key element of their digital strategy. It is estimated that by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search (think Google Home and Amazon Alexa) will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.

The Future Of Retail Is Digital

While nothing can replace the real-world experience of shopping for some items, especially clothing, the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards online shopping, and retailers who are slow to respond will find it tough to survive in a post-COVID-19 era.

Mythos Group’s white paper, Post-COVID-19, Reimagining The Retail Sector, contains more detail on this and other recommendations, and is available to download for free from Papers.