Last Updated: 08 Sep 2021 | 8 min read
Within a short time after the first reports of folks falling ill and succumbing to the SARS-CoV-2 viral outbreak started coming in, the economic, social, and health parameters across the globe started dropping as if they were in freefall. The pandemic brought nothing but death, destruction, and uncertainty for everyone. Businesses, in particular, regardless of size or scale, had to deal with the fallout. As time passed, it became clear that digital solutions and associated innovations were the only things that could help the commercial sphere to survive, particularly the retail sector.
There was a time when the world didn’t bother much about digitization. Of course, people were using smartphones and other similar gadgets, but they resorted to these digital systems mostly for entertainment purposes. Then, between the final days of 2019 and the initial days of 2020, something happened that changed the face of the globe forever.
An accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China led to the outbreak of a virus, scientifically called SARS-CoV-2. Within a few weeks of this event, China declared a national emergency because people all over the country started falling ill and even succumbing entirely to this virus. It didn’t take long for people to carry the virus in their bodies outside China, and sooner rather than later, it turned into a worldwide pandemic.
Commonly called the coronavirus, it ceased to remain a microbial entity that affected only humans. It brought social and economic parameters, apart from health, to their knees. Uncertainty was the only thing that became certain. The retail sector was probably the worst sufferer as the only measure of safety available to humanity was to wear masks and maintain physical distancing from each other. These two requirements became a norm for the entire world.
As time passed, medical scientists, researchers, and doctors worked as hard as humanly possible and synthesized vaccines. While the danger hasn’t fully passed, it’s safe to say right now that the pandemic has become relatively controllable. After this event, it became clear that for a business to survive, digital transformation is mandatory. All lingering doubts about the necessity of the providers of customize IT services and solutions vanished like a breath exhaled in the wind.
In a world where physical contact or even standing or sitting close to each other became impossible, clients and workers of business companies had to take place virtually. With only a handful of exceptions, operating digitally ended up being the only way to remain in business. Business owners had to do it while adhering to government-enforced shutdowns and activity restrictions. Today, it’s all about going digital or risk shutting down the front door forever.
As already mentioned earlier, there isn’t anything new about digitization or relying on customize IT services and solutions. These things simply occupied the limelight. Before the pandemic, humanity had already started shifting towards economic servitization and digitization. The pandemic just accelerated the rate at which everyone adopted digitization, and it’s worth mentioning here that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The pandemic gave business owners a chance to look at reality from a different lens, particularly those who were reluctant towards digital transformation. When they realized it was their only lifeline, they didn’t have anywhere to go or anything to do as there weren’t ready. Other than the stresses of compromising the health of employees, there was a sudden and surprisingly scary drop in demand combined with full-fledged economic uncertainty. At the moment, all these slowpokes are scrambling to move their workforce and operations to a digitized environment.
Here are a few instances of digital transformation in the retail industry right after the pandemic.
As the nations started opening their doors, business establishments, such as malls and stores began traversing the same road. However, the most noteworthy thing is the number of customers that’ll come back and the amount of time they’ll want to spend within the store. Naturally, it’s of the utmost importance for retail establishments to resort to customize IT services company in India to become digital-friendly and share product info, real-time inventory info, and customer loyalty management over electronic systems. These stores won’t need as many on-premise associates if they adopt digitization.
Since the pandemic began, e-commerce sales increased by 49% compared to the previous year. Customers started ditching in-store shopping and embraced e-commerce establishments. Apart from enjoying the convenience of shopping from home, they kept themselves and others safe from the coronavirus. It goes without saying that this trend will continue long after COVID-19 vanishes completely because customers are already aware of the perks of online shopping.
One article published by the World Economic Forum claimed that the sales of department stores will drop down more than 60% and e-commerce sales will increase by almost 20% in 2020. It’s precisely what happened. The most recognized names in the field of retail, such as CVS, Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s, grabbed onto their omnichannel fulfilment strategies to address this matter successfully. Soon after that, other establishments began bolstering their e-commerce strategy as an instantaneous failsafe measure.
Before the vaccines arrived, people had only masks, social distancing, and sanitizers. Apart from that, they had to wash their hands with soap after touching surfaces that came into human contact. Doctors say that you have to follow these norms even after taking both vaccine doses. That’s why everyone is after touch-less interaction these days. They want the same thing when they have to buy something from within a store. This demand led to an increase in curbside orders by 208% during the pandemic, and this trend will continue in the future. Just as using masks and sanitizers became a necessity, so will touch-less payments, curbside pickups, and online appointments.
One report published in 2020 estimated that the market of AR/VR will hit the $18.8 billion mark in the same year. This report cited the pre-pandemic projections made by another world-renowned market research organization. AR/VR solutions designed by the best customize IT services company in India allow customers to experience the appearance and feel of products and services through AR/VR systems. They have virtual malls, virtual try-on, product information accessibility, and product visualization features at their disposal right now. Both AR and VR offer customers the options they have been seeking after the pandemic to engage with products and services before paying for them. There’s a high possibility that almost every business organization, regardless of the industry it belongs to, will prioritize and invest in these two technologies.
Retailers often have to face this major concern, and it went off the charts when the pandemic was raging through the world at full pace. Even a few months ago, some retailers were putting up with the lack of essential supplies while others had to deal with non-essential merchandise wasting away in their warehouses. Digitization came to the rescue of these retailers and helped them address inventory fulfilment and automation. Retailers began embracing inventory digitization systems and solutions to reduce human intervention as much as possible. Closed stores started turning into dark fulfilment establishments for inventory consolidation and delivery. With these measures, retailers reestablished their supply chains.
The most recognized and reputable offshore IT solutions company works with several leading retailers to design and create new and innovative digital platforms and products. In reality, such IT agencies have been designing the building blocks for well-architected systems powered by storehouses of scalability for several years. They have industrial and technological expertise in the sphere of retail. By leveraging the knowledge they possess, these IT specialists believe that the following themes will prove to be indispensable for retailers once humanity beats the pandemic fully.
Customers want to pay for the goods and services they want without touching surfaces that may spread the virus even further. As smartphones have become as common as a nose on the face, consumers want to use them to make in-store payments by scanning QR codes or using NFC. Methods like these make payments faster, safer, efficient, and seamless that’ll further result in an improved customer experience.
There’s a new-age term called BOPIS that stands for “buy online, pickup in-store.” Combined with curbside pickup, BOPIS will be the most in-demand feature among customers in the future. BOPIS is already quite popular as it lets customers order products over the web and pick the merchandise from inside the store. The amalgam of BOPIS with curbside pickups will ensure buyers won’t have to enter enclosed spaces and increase the risk of contracting the virus.
Today, customers expect to have the ability to seek out and purchase products over the internet via voice commands. They can do it if they use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. These systems make it simple for them to include products in their virtual shopping carts, purchase the same, and verify the order status.
From everything mentioned above, as well as the events that came to pass with the outbreak of the coronavirus, it’s clear that there’s no way to return to the ways of the past. If you hope to survive, you’ll need to contact an offshore IT solutions company to design digital interventions for your business.
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