Though we routinely hope for the world to “go back to normal”, it seems that the pandemic has irreversibly changed certain things about our life. The retail industry is a huge part of what shapes our every day and it seems like the features of the retail industry have seen some real change over the past couple of years. With the rise of BOPIS (Buy Online Pick-up in Store) and BOSS (Buy Online Ship to Store) methods of consumption. Along with other methods of consumption, it is easy to see how the pandemic has made some irreversible long-term changes to the functioning of the retail industry.
The trend towards online retail has been slow and consistent spanning over half a decade. This trend has been massively accelerated by the needs and necessities of the pandemic. Let us see why these changes are taking place and why the pandemic has changed the future of retail.
The generation of jobs and the expansion of the gig economy during this recession is an important reason for the non-reflexivity of the retail industry. With online payments and methods of shopping, consumers are finding a newfound reliance/convenience that many had not discovered before. The supplemented labour by various expansions in the delivery and logistical service space as it expands along with the gig economy means that the online trend is here to stay. These much-needed jobs are expanding and adapting to the needs of the recession and keeping us all afloat.
The new systems of purchase have simplified many lives during these trying times. According to Adobe Analytics data , there has been a 20% increase in digital purchasing power since 2014, and an increase of 3% year-over-year and BOPIS consumers have increased by a staggering 62% year-over-year. As more and more people flock to the convenience of the online shopping experience, they are often wowed by innovations in the AR/VR space.
Many companies and online services use AR (Augmented Reality) often powered by new neural network/ machine learning based AI (Artificial Intelligence) in order to find different methods of making the online shopping experience even more immersive. Whether it is trying on glasses and frames on lenskart or placing furniture inside your house to see what it feels like on the Ikea website, AR software has really changed the way we shop.
Finally, many businesses and restaurants/kitchens are finding pivots and making changes to their business model such that they use these fertile online channels to disseminate their products directly to the consumers. Quite a few Business to Business (B2B) companies have begun to pivot with a new Business to Consumer (B2C) angle due to the newfound relevance as well as convenience of selling their products directly to consumers through various online channels.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that your local supermarket or small-time grocery store is going to shut down. People have found that the pandemic has moved the needle towards local stores as well. Especially for one’s day to day needs. There are many who shop local in order to contribute to the community and the local economy as well. The personal touch of the local store as well as its various perks such as bargaining capacity (which is sorely missing in online stores), service-oriented shopping experience and low prices etc. mean that people are likely to continue to go to their local stores for various goods and services.
In fact, various local stores have seen a resurgence of their consumer base at the end of various lockdowns around the world. While they too were quite badly hit during the pandemic, it seems that their side of the retail industry is in steady recovery.
Though the consumer base of the online retail market has increased significantly, it is important to note that these small businesses are making a comeback over the past few months. Though the pandemic has irreversibly changed the future of retail, it doesn’t seem to be putting the small-time business owner in any kind of long-term risk.