Sophie Biggerstaff is founder at BYRCOLLECTIVE. She thinks «the way people are shopping and consuming has changed and retailers are going to have to make some tough decisions».
What do you think the post-COVID retail landscape will look like?
I think post-COVID retail will continue to see the rise of online shopping. A lot of the larger retailers and department stores are likely to continue to struggle with sales as buyers have become more mindful of shopping with smaller local businesses. If you walk down Oxford Street right now every other shop is vacant, the way people are shopping and consuming has changed and retailers are going to have to make some tough decisions about locations of their stores, I imagine a lot of out of town/low traffic locations will continue to close, and more experiential/concept stores will pop up in cities to keep shoppers engaged, but most of their sales will come from online.
What will be the biggest problem or weakness that the physical store have to deal with?
Lack of traffic will likely cause a lot of issues for physical stores whilst shoppers are still cautious of venturing out into public spaces. The ease of online shopping has definitely contributed to this, shoppers can now get the product on their doorstep the next day at the click of a button, without having to risk going to their local mall or highstreet. For people to return to physical stores the retailers are going to have to really change the way they interact with their customers, the services they offer and try to replicate the ease of online shopping in their physical locations.
I think post-COVID retail will continue to see the rise of online shopping
What role will technology play?
Technology will play a huge role in this, especially POS technology, shoppers are now so used to the instant buy now at the tap of a button, no queuing, easy and free returns so stores will need to invest in a POS system that can replicate the ease of an online shopping experience in their physical locations.
How will customer loyalty be achieved?
Customer service is going to be a huge factor for this, we’re over crappy returns policies, queuing for hours to make a purchase, not getting information we need instantly – retailers are going to have to invest a lot in to improving their customer service to make customers want to keep coming back. A lot of brands have also started rewarding customers for their loyalty with referral discounts, points cards etc and this will also help to build a stronger community and get shoppers returning.
Retailers are going to have to invest a lot in to improving their customer service to make customers want to keep coming back
Are you optimistic about the future of retail?
Yes – I think we will definitely start to see a lot more smaller/independent/up and coming brands dominate the retail industry, which I think will be quite refreshing. A lot of the retailers we know and love sadly are just not versatile enough to keep up with the changes in the industry, and naturally because of this they will struggle to retain customers’ attention and get back to their pre-COVID sales. I think the future for retail is going to look pretty different, but actually I think it will be a welcome change and only the best of the best brands will step up to the game making way for some of the newer forward thinking brands to have their moment instead.
What do you think about our Flame analytics tool?
Data is key in retail and having a tool like Flame analytics will be really beneficial to a lot of retailers. It will allow them to truly get their head in the data (the facts) and make changes necessary to capitalize on the opportunities the data may present.