Q&A: What Kind Of Retail Innovation Will Emerge From The Pandemic?

Retailers have had to make a lot of big changes this past year. And while some stores have viewed the new protocols and restrictions as temporary hurdles, others have really embraced the idea of retail innovation and ingenuity during this time.

We have seen a lot of great strides being taken to make the retail shopping experience more accessible, with more omni-channel buying opportunities and a wider variety of fulfillment options. The pandemic has also pushed manufacturers and retailers to think more creatively about their showroom design and digital infrastructure in order to better engage with their customers wherever they are shopping.

As we look ahead to the future, we’re curious to explore how this experience may continue to impact the retail industry for years to come—from product development to store design and sales platforms. What new strategies that have been adopted this year are expected to stick around? How might consumer behavior continue to evolve—and how will retailers and manufacturers address their new demands?

What kind of retail innovation do you expect to emerge from the pandemic?

QA_PurpleTres White
Chief Retail Officer | Purple

"In general I believe innovations revolve around better meeting basic human needs, both physical and psychological. Specific to the pandemic and at the lowest level, people have strong survival instincts and want to be safe, and in this case not contract a virus. I see innovation trends continuing around germ-free shopping, pick-up and delivery experiences. Online innovations certainly will continue to accelerate, and I see online retailers innovating to capture even more share from brick-and-mortar retailers by better replicating real-world shopping experiences. For bedding, I think continued omni-channel innovation and capabilities are a necessity for survival. Brands that fall behind on these trends will continue to lose share to their more omni-competent rivals."

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QA_Retail In The City high-res (1)Jennifer Magee
Owner & Creative DirectorRetail In The City

"We’ve learned that online shopping is here to stay. People have discovered the convenience of ordering on the web, and they will adopt a hybrid approach to online-offline shopping post-pandemic. The in-store shopping experience will need to provide a level of comfort, ease, technological advancement, and expertise that can rival the online experience. And so the real innovation will come from creating a completely seamless online-offline experience. Many of the technological advances of ecommerce shopping will be integrated into the physical store experience. Same-day delivery & pickup as well as an easy-check out and return process will be critical. Augmented reality (A/R) will gain more popularity and help customers visualize actual products within their own home. A customer profile created online will follow a shopper into the store, providing a salesperson with more detailed buying information and what products that person has already added to their ‘wish list’ or ‘shopping cart’. Within the store environment, contactless payments, spaced-out customer interactions, new air-filtration systems and clean surfaces will continue to be important, and innovation in these areas will continually advance. These things, along with connecting to the customer on a more meaningful level, both digitally & in-person, will help the shopper feel welcome, build trust and encourage engagement. Customers will simply continue to expect this, even once the virus is no longer a risk."

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QA_reverieDeena Gardner
VP of Marketing & Communication | Reverie

"A major lesson from this pandemic as a retailer is that a digital presence is no longer an option. You’ll begin to see more retailers adopt a more multi-experience model. Focusing on the personalized customer journey versus just the destination will be a crucial part of winning the customer and providing lifelong value."

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