how brick and mortar businesses can evolve in the covid era?


The COVID-19 pandemic has shuffled the revenues and rules for many industries. Most of all, for brick and mortar retailers. According to McKinsey, with work from home still prevalent, consumers will not suddenly adapt to offline shopping. Hence, brick-and-mortar retailers will have to continue reevaluating their customer experiences along with basic requirements.

As per IBM’s annual US Retail Index study, brick and mortar businesses that have swiftly switched to e-commerce have witnessed an increase in their revenues. On the other hand, businesses with a weak online presence are seeing a decline in revenues despite an increase in demand. After comprehensively analysing the rich location-based data and shifting consumer trends, brick and mortar businesses must walk an extra mile and meet their consumers where they currently prefer to shop.

Considering that consumers have already accustomed themselves to the new normal, brick and mortar retailers must focus on the following strategies to evolve and stay relevant:

Redefine In-Person Visits

From luxury brands to grocers, retailers have consciously focussed on offering a seamless in-store experience. Before the pandemic changed our priorities, in-person events and special offers kept attracting consumers. It also inspired them to stay more loyal to the retailer and purchase more often from them.

Due to the pandemic, consumers are now swept up in concerns about their safety, well-being, and health risks. Therefore, brick and mortar retailers will have to offer an extraordinary in-person experience to their consumers now. Just like luxury theatres, retailers could offer personalised, exclusive experiences to consumers or wholly elevate customer service by employing personal shoppers, tech experts, installers, and grievance experts. To sum it up, brick and mortar businesses will have to make offline visits worth it for their consumers.

Create New Benchmarks

Health and safety regulations need to be reviewed and updated by brick and mortar businesses. From physical distancing to mask-wearing, processing contactless transactions to offering speedy service, retailers will have to truly notch up their operations. Apart from these, offline businesses will also have to provide an efficient e-commerce experience. A poor digital shopping experience will frustrate consumers more than ever before now, hence, offering superior services like ordering online and buying offline is the need of the hour.

Flagship product launches from Apple and Nike might still push consumers to wait in line for hours, but retailers can no longer take it for granted. Health concerns have convinced even the most loyal fans of retailers to check for online offers or availability. Therefore, retailers must activate their digital channels and at the same time elevate their in-person offerings.

Diversify Digital Experience

Innovation led by brick and mortar retailers must extend beyond the predictable digital experience that your consumers are already aware of. Thinking beyond e-commerce is vital to attracting consumers across generations. Gamification, social shopping, personalisation, peer support, will help offline businesses to offer more immersive and rich experiences to customers. In the retail context, AI can help provide that much-needed momentum to brick and mortar businesses through real-time support, inventory checks, and more.

Better strategies and ideas will dawn upon brick and mortar retailers once they make up their minds to ride the wave of pandemic induced transformation. To evolve, these businesses simply need a proactive and future-ready plan that is aligned with the changing expectations of consumers. An all-new trend in customer experience has stepped up, offline businesses which have recognised the same can make the most of it.

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