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RTIH looks at how the Coronavirus is radically changing our shopping habits and experiences, and how retailers are responding.

In the UK things are starting to feel a bit more normal. Most of them are stores that opened for the first time in 3 months.

But the lockdown may have been mitigated, but it certainly isn’t over. Mainstream media enthusiastically covered long lines of Primmark and JD Sports. Still, last week, when I braveed the local high streets, many stores had more staff than shoppers.

It was not difficult to understand the crucial importance of coffee shops, bars, pubs and restaurants to the overall brick and mortar experience. Without them, High Street is flat (roll on July 4th!). After all, physical retail is not just about buying things. The social aspects of it are huge.

Outbreaks and lockdowns, especially of coronaviruses, are, of course, good for online spaces. Former Sainsbury boss Mike Coupe recently commented: Online groceries took 25 years to reach 8% of our business, 8 weeks to reach 15%, and that tomorrow. Is still growing so that there is no

Ten years ago, UK e-commerce sales were less than 5% of total retail sales. A record high of 22.4% was recorded in March, and 30.7% in April. May close to 35%. Then, even if you reopen the shop, you’ll be back in your early twenties for a predictable future. Retail analyst Natalie Berg told Twitter that the habits learned during the lockdown will continue.

In response to Bergs’ tweet, AO founder and CEO John Roberts said: Changes in consumer behavior over five years have accelerated to five weeks. Now we need to prove to new customers that online is a better way than just online.

Meanwhile, according to a Raydiant survey, in the US, 29% of US retailers plan to close their physical locations and connect to the Internet only, while 14% plan to downsize ..

The company surveyed 400 American brick and mortar operators. 43% claimed they were able to survive the coronavirus without expanding to e-commerce, but 26% said they saved their business by moving, and 29% were unsure if they were successful.

A new wave of customer expectations

As Berg says, the e-commerce sector will cool in the coming months as stores reopen and bars and restaurants reopen. But the return to normality is somewhat out of the way. An immersive and engaging retail experience must be combined with social distance and other safety measures.

Being a real-only retailer is more difficult than ever, and we must expect that many of them are taking an increasingly digital approach. It was interesting to see Starbucks accelerating their plans to upgrade their US store portfolio as Starbucks seemed to be recovering from the coronavirus outbreak.

Over the next 18 months, drive-thru and curbside pickup options will increase in focus and mobile orders will only be available for Starbucks pickups in dense markets such as New York City, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco.

There is a real focus on communities and regions, sustainability and circular economy. These will be huge following Covid-19

These are augmented by contracts with 19.4 million Rewards members, as well as retailer apps essential for ordering and prepayment.

Payment

Pandemics have also brought a paradigm shift to the payments industry. Different types of e-commerce and contactless payments have been blocked in some countries because cash is frequently (misleadingly claimed by many) as a potential carrier of the virus. As a result, is gaining momentum.

Comment from Ayushi Tandon, FinTech analyst at GlobalData. Pandemic accelerated adoption of digital payments, which had been sluggish due to the surge in e-commerce from existing shoppers and the influx of new consumers specifically for groceries, food delivery, health and other supplies .. It depends on the country until 2019. At the same time, consumers see contactless payment methods as the safest way to pay in stores.

Quick response (QR) codes and near field communication (NFC) have improved significantly over the last few months. While Chinas WeChat Pay and Alipay rely on QR codes only, mobile wallets such as Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay support both QR codes and NFC payments. GlobalData also anticipates that face and touch recognition biometric based payments will become routine in the future.

Even in a mix

The UK has come to value local businesses over the past few months, as shown by a recent survey from RetailEXPO.

There is a real focus on communities and regions, sustainability and circular economy. These will be huge following Covid-19, says Office Depot IT Director Mike Cadden.

Elsewhere, Radiant’s study mentioned above found that 21% of US retailers began rolling out curbside pickup services and 31% began delivering deliveries during the pandemic. .. Most people who add these services will maintain them.

The use of live video shopping and live streaming services is also increasing. And it was generally set up to take advantage of smartphones as an interface. For example, if you can verify that the code number you entered on the phone is who you are, touch a public ATM screen.

Voice commands and face IDs are more widely used. Shops without cash registers will be more attractive. That’s just the beginning, says Julie Carlyle, Head of Retail at EY UK & I.

Carlyle believes that as personal technology becomes an integral part of everyday life, new shopping experiences will be possible. Consumers may also share biometric data to try to get the perfect fit without trying it on. Tactile technology allows people to feel the product without physical contact.

The situation is never the same again. This is bad news for those who already had problems before the coronavirus, but good news for others. Adapting and thriving in the post-coronavirus world requires digital changes at an extraordinary pace, but there is a clear opportunity for companies to stay informed and thrive.

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