What You Can Expect from Retail After Covid-19

Retail has always had to adapt to meet consumer demand. Now, however, retailers find themselves having to change the way they operate and even the way stores and restaurants look in order to accommodate Covid-19.  A shopping or dining experience today is nothing like that of just a few months ago. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has likely changed retail for years to come. Read on to learn more about the future of retail in America.

Brick and Mortar Will Live On

Because of the pandemic, people who never shopped online are doing so now. Nevertheless, the experience of in-person shopping will always be desirable. The Dallas Business Journal recently asked its 2020 Women in Business Award honorees if they prefer to shop online or in-person, and 61 percent of these busy executives favored in-person shopping.
No question—online shopping is here to stay. But the pleasure of walking into a store and browsing through merchandise will still be a favorite American activity when the pandemic ends.

BOPIS and Curbside Pick Up

Post-Covid, integrating the store and the website will be even more important for success in retail. Even before coronavirus, some retailers offered shoppers the option to buy online, pick up in store, or BOPIS. This practice has grown considerably over the last several months along with curbside pick up.  Also called contactless shopping, both of these will need accommodations. For example, a drive-through and designated parking spots are two modifications stores are offering to deliver merchandise without customers leaving their vehicles.

Store Layout and Appearance

If you’ve been in a store lately, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed some changes. Starting on the floor, the arrows keep traffic flowing in one direction, and the X’s encourage social distancing, especially at checkout lines. And that plexiglass separating cashier and customer at the register will become a ubiquitous way of helping people feel safe while they shop. Similarly, aisles may be widened and merchandise placed to facilitate faster shopping. This is a marked difference in product placement, which was always designed to encourage shoppers to walk further into a store and browse. Behind the scene, retailers may need to expand their backrooms in order to stock merchandise for fulfilling online orders.

When it comes to the appearance of a store, the most important factor is now cleanliness. A store that looks clean—and is actually clean—will calm anxious customers. And speaking of calm, have you ever heard of the psychology of color? There are colors that excite—red increases pulse, heart rate, blood pressure and appetite—while blues and greens are soothing. Expect to see more cool colors in store décor as retailers strive to create calming atmospheres.

Windows and Outdoor Space

Windows won’t be just for holidays anymore. For customers waiting in line outside to allow for proper social distancing inside, shop windows can tell a story. And as always, large posters and product displays might also entice passersby to come in and have a look.

Like interiors, outdoor spaces will need to convey a retailer’s commitment to customers’ health and safety. A visibly clean environment that is spruced up will reassure people and create loyalty.

Customer Service

More than ever, consumers will be looking for retailers that provide exceptional customer service. Aside from complying with health and safety regulations—masks, social distancing, barriers, and contactless transactions—retailers will have to think creatively about service. Stores must offer customers a reason to leave the comfort, convenience and safety of shopping online from the living room couch.

That kind of service will likely be different from one type of retailer to another. Nevertheless, the objective will always be the same—facilitate long-term customer relationships. Then, when the pandemic is nothing but a memory, consumers will also remember the retailers that went out of their way for them.