Martin Newman — Technology Innovation Hub for Retail
RTIH: Who have been the big winners and losers in retail during the coronavirus outbreak?
MN: To borrow a football pun, it really was a two-half game.
During the first year and a half and during the long periods of lockdown, multi-channel retailers mostly struggled as they had to close their stores.
Although many have been able to pivot to offer customers curbside pickup and have found ways to leverage their stores as distribution centers. To compensate for the loss of in-store demand, as well as pureplay businesses, they have seen a huge increase in online demand.
However, not all companies were ready to take full advantage of it. Either because they didn’t have the right logistics and supply chain for it, or because they didn’t have the right skills and the right organizational structure to maximize the opportunity.
Pureplayers performed well as they did not have to worry about lost demand from closed stores and the cost of running a store business.
But when everything reopened in earnest in July 2021, multi-channel retailers began to recoup sales and profitability as consumers returned to the physical retail environment in part to enjoy the newfound freedom it afforded them.
RTIH: What is your retail forecast for 2022 and beyond?
MN: With all the turmoil in the world right now, from the conflict in Ukraine to the rising energy costs and the rising cost of living that we are experiencing, 2022 and 2023 will be tough years for retailers. , as consumers tighten their belts.
From a technology perspective, retailers will continue to join channels.
As they seek to deliver the seamless experience that consumers demand and reap the benefits of doing so, whether it’s ensuring their inventory can meet demand wherever it occurs and maximize uptime, to have a single view of the customer where they can begin to move from a focal point here and now to create lasting and meaningful customer lifetime value through a more seamless and personalized customer experience.
Of course, I would add to that the opportunity that experiential retail has to offer both online and offline. The former are driven by the metaverse, and the latter by better use of digital technology to empower and engage consumers.
As with all new tech-driven experiences, the metaverse will take time to reach its potential as we move away from where we currently are with a small number of brands creating experiences for consumers that are early adopters. the early and late majority who get involved.