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Happy 2021! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be exploring some key predictions for the coming year – but first, I wanted to take a quick look back at some of the lessons we’ve learned from the past nine months of the pandemic.

Perhaps the most obvious is that there’s no strategy that can completely overcome the challenges of a shutdown. No matter how stellar your business is, being unable to open your store is always going to be crippling.

Still, there are some differentiators.

Companies that already had a strong digital relationship with their customers were much more able to adapt to the new normal, while those that were overly dependent on walk-in traffic suffered.

The nimblest retailers, those that were able to pivot quickly and offer the same or similar products and services in a new and different way, were best able to survive.

Birds of prey won, and ostriches lost. If your response to the pandemic was to bury your head in the sand, you were in trouble from the start – but retailers that seized opportunity, took risks and made bold changes were rewarded.

Assessing what’s happening in retail and actively responding to it has never been more crucial than it is today. Investing in your in-store experience, improving your customer service, giving people a real sense of reward for having come to visit your store, will pay real dividends.

And looking ahead, there is real reason to believe the retailers that do so will continue to be rewarded. Anywhere retail has been able to open up, even for a brief moment, crowds have flooded in. There’s a real sense of affection for retail, and people are bursting for the chance to experience it again.

The end of the pandemic is finally on the horizon, and when people finally feel safe shopping again, we can look forward to a retail surge like we’ve never seen before. At some point this year, there’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to begin not just the healing process for society, but the healing process for your brand.

People will be truly delighted to be out and about, and they are likely to visit your store once – so what plans do you have to introduce yourself to them, really welcome them, learn who they are, and invite them to come back? Now is the time to pin down a clear and tangible strategy for when you’re able to fully reopen.

Over the next five weeks, I’ll be looking at five key predictions for 2021, and discussing in detail how you can prepare for the changes ahead over the coming year.

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me directly here with any questions or thoughts, or click here to download our white paper on responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.