No Normalcy – How The Pandemic Effectively Evolved Retail

2021-05-12 18:09:19 admin

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has caused a detrimental impact on all retail businesses worldwide. The daily routine of going out to shop, browsing along store aisles, and chatting up the checkout counter has been shelved.

For the clothing industry, this hit has been catastrophic.

As of March 24, 2020, over 47,000 well-known store names across the U.S. have had to temporarily close the doors of their brick-and-mortar storefronts.

For as many as 15,000 stores, this move could become permanent.

Businesses are scrambling to reach their clientele while stores remain closed to the public. Companies are forced to adopt new shopping standards as a means to ensure public safety, but some shoppers may be hesitant to ever again venture out into public stores.

This chaos has never been seen before in our lifetime, and the ramifications happening now will create aftershocks that will be felt for decades to come.

A solution is desperately needed.

Enter in e-commerce and curbside.

These options came to the rescue and can be viewed as the industry’s saving grace while COVID-19 persists.

Even more, they may be seen as the new wave of the future.

How Did it Come to This?

Starting in mid-March, the United States was rocked by the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governors and state officials began authorizing stay-at-home orders, causing thousands of store-front businesses to temporarily close their doors to the public.

Because of this, the retail industry took a massive hit.

Many Americans were mandated to work from home and the allure of a new wardrobe took a back seat. People just weren’t making apparel purchases during a global crisis.

According to the New York Times, apparel stores saw a 50.5% loss in March sales compared to February, and retail overall dropped 8.7%, a devastating blow never before seen in its history.

Major and small businesses began laying off employees as doors were locked, leading to a massive loss in jobs rivaling the 2008 recession.

The thrill of clothes shopping ground sales to a halt for brick-and-mortar stores, adding to an already substantial dent in retail sales.

An E-commerce Overload

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With the opportunity of a physical shopping experience hindered, consumers stuck at home desired a way to still spend money and acquire goods.

E-commerce purchases became the quick solution to the problem.

Online ordering began climbing from mid-to-late March as pandemic stay-at-home regulations were put into place, skyrocketing to a 49% growth by April.

Warehouse giant Amazon, who regularly dominated the e-commerce competition, refocused their efforts and began prioritizing the shipments of essential goods, like medical supplies and household staples.

This move resulted in the slow of non-essential goods that customers still desired from them.

Retailers saw an opening to meet their customers’ needs and took it upon themselves to fulfill online orders.

However, as a result of the exponential rise in online purchases, retailers soon began to struggle.

Shipping delays began increasing up to 1.5 days longer than normal, partly due to an increase in numbers but also due to a limited number of warehouse workers and distancing guidelines, making it difficult for employees to work while maintaining six feet among themselves.

These delays were beginning to come at the cost of customer satisfaction as emails of order delays increased eight-fold.

John Landsman, a manager of research analytics stated, “[r]etailers badly want and need the business and appear willing to take orders and then apologize for not being able to deliver these orders within their normal service standards.”

Something had to change if this was going to work

The “Amazon Effect” completely redesigned the market when they began offering faster shipping and delivery to consumers. The luxury of placing an order while lounging in bed or on the couch and expecting that same order within 24-hours completely reconstructed customer expectations.

Shoppers were now looking for other retailers to follow that same system.

With demands for faster satisfaction, delays in shipping weren’t acceptable and retailers needed to meet these requests if they had any hope of retaining some of their pre-pandemic business.

A new source of omnichannel was necessary to meet these current escalations.