Although the pandemic has disrupted all industries, the impact on some domains has been a tad more. Travel and hospitality are perhaps the worst hit, with bookings canceled and things appearing bleak ahead. The retail and consumer goods sectors are also going through unprecedented disruption. After the initial lockdowns, foot traffic is still far from normal and there are supply chain bottlenecks to deal with. Global retail is bound to change in the new normal, and the future is going to be very different for the sellers and buyers. Here are some insights about how the new normal may look like.

Consumer expectations will never be the same

History shows that profound disruption often leads to change, just as the retail segment is witnessing the biggest evolution in consumer expectations right now. More than anything else, retail buyers are looking for assurance, whether it is about the timely availability of products, safe delivery, and pickup or in-store safety for them. If you are willing to go the extra mile on all these fronts, you can expect to thrive even during the looming recession. Business continuity and recovery for retailers is mainly going to be about fulfilling the expectations of the consumers rather than anything else.

Expect a period of fluctuations ahead

Despite the best efforts to regulate the retail operations and staying aligned with consumer expectations, you can still expect a period of fluctuations ahead. Incentivizing the customers will be the key, whether you do it with weekly specials, black Friday sales, or rewards cards. Imagine the kind of hype you can create by calling the potential buyers to win a car competition by shopping with your brand rather than from competing retailers. They will leave all other brands and stores in South Africa and jump at your offer. These offers and discounts may be a cost for your business now but they can go a long way in driving customer retention in the new normal.

Innovation is the key to survival

Another factor that retailers cannot ignore in the pandemic era is innovation. In the current crisis, shoppers are shifting to online shopping purely out of necessity but once they realize the benefits of e-commerce, they will probably never want to be back in stores again. Even those who will come to the store to buy will explore your latest catalogue online before dropping in, just to minimize the time they spend in-store and avoid contact with salespersons. This means that traditional stores that have known only the brick-and-mortar model for selling need to embrace innovation sooner rather than later. Apart from the innovation in the form of an e-commerce switch, you may also have to consider technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance the virtual shopping experiences.

Getting ready for the new normal is easy if you comprehend these changes in the retail landscape and embrace them at the earliest. Doing it sooner rather than later would give you the early adopter advantage so that you can win the customers and sustain in the long run.

Author Bio: Proficient in sales optimization and online reputation management, Tanja Khumalo is the new thinkbox head at Outreach Monks. She loves leisurely solitude to refresh her ideas.