The retail industry or what we call the brick and mortar stores were already at an inflection point with at least 15% customer base shifting towards buying on e-commerce platforms. During and post Covid-19, the trend is expected to continue due to store closures and the decline in spending on non-essential products.
However, every setback throws a great opportunity at us to re-invent ourselves for this era post-Covid-19. According to an article on McKinsey, sectors in the bounce-back category – mostly consumer goods such as apparel and furniture are likely to see customer demand return relatively quickly. Retail stores must make the maximum of this opportunity and leverage the advantages of technology and sourcing/selling unique products to compete with e-commerce platforms.
Here are some of the options that can be explored.
Review of Inventory and Supply Chain
In accordance with an article on Hubspot, (Internet of Things) IoT can reduce inventory error, optimize your supply chain management, and decrease labor costs and help retailer stores compete with e-commerce by exponentially improving customer experience and reducing expenses. One can introduce technology solutions such as Customer Relationship Management Tools and Inventory Management Systems to identify new customer behaviour and preferences, source, and stock up the right products for the consumer and improve item management in warehouses and stores.
Ensure Health of Customers and Workers
A challenge retailers need to tackle is the need to protect customers and employees from contracting or spreading COVID-19. Technology Companies offer app-based solutions to regulate the traffic of customers at the store at a time. It will help the store workers to manage the customers in a hassle-free way. Another option that needs to be made mandatory by retailers is contact-less automated payment options thereby protecting both your employees and customers.
Conclusion: Sell a Story not Product
Consumer behaviour is expected to change further post-Covid-19 and consumers will prefer to buy eco-friendly sustainably produced goods. Batch produced handmade goods that cater to these values will be a wonderful addition to your range of products. Every handmade product conveys a beautiful story of a maker community and every purchase encourages them to stick to their skills, ensures their livelihood, and contributes to revive the circular economy.
We are headed for a tough 2020 due to the pandemic but with out-of-the-box thinking and bold and mature decisions, we will emerge out of this stronger,
More on the subject in Part-2 of our series
PS: Rural Handmade essentially is “Alibaba for Handmade” a B2B platform that connects over 15000 maker communities who create sustainable handmade products for the most vibrant SME brands and retailers across the world.