Hi. I’m Andy. I’m a retailer who also happens to have a technology background — as an executive director at AT&T stores nationwide, I led the retail roll out of the original iPhone — and if there’s an opportunity to move the language of retail forward into the digital age, I’m doing it. I love taking the old-fashioned things that some people might overlook, and putting them together with emerging technology to build experiences that delight shoppers and brands alike.
The first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a punch in the jaw for many of us in retail — and recent research from McKinsey & Company suggests that many of these changes will be long-lasting. “The next normal has started to emerge, with consumers indicating they will adopt long-term behavioral changes that will last beyond COVID-19,” McKinsey researchers wrote in a recent blog post.
So, change is here.
I have some thoughts I want to share about a proactive way we can respond.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to look at five keys ways that retail — and high-touch retail in particular — has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m going to offer some suggestions about what you can and should do not only to respond to those changes, but to get ahead of them — and to transform your customers’ experience for the better.
You see, over the last few decades, while we’ve been chasing profitability with declining margins, much of the care and fun and entertainment has been taken out of retail and replaced with discount racks — all while Amazon has been curating a personalized range of products for each shopper and bringing the product to them.
But we as retailers have an ace in the hole.
Shopping online is just fulfillment of product. Customers want to come into your store and interact. They want to feel like they’ve touched the product, but they also want to feel like your brand touched them, that they’ve been recognized and acknowledged, even celebrated.
If retail is to survive, we have to combine the lessons of the old and brains from the new and synthesize them into a better offering that exceeds shoppers’ expectations. And the most expedient and effective way to do that is through digital technology. We are going to solve social distancing with digital distancing. And your customers already feel comfortable with it.
I’ll be back next week to look at the first of the new rules of retail, and to take a closer look at the ways you can respond.