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How should the retail industry get prepared for the post-COVID-19 time?

The restriction of shopping centers and stores due to COVID-19 has significantly affected the retail industry. The current situation creates great difficulties especially for the non-food retail sector, which derives a significant part of their turnover from customer traffic.

Due to the restriction of stores in the non-food retail sector and social distance practices in the food retail sector, consumers have mainly directed their shopping to e-commerce channels. Although the e-commerce turnover of companies reached record levels, it does not seem possible for this channel to reach the turnover obtained from physical channels in the normal period. Therefore, preparing the store format, which has an important place in total business, for the new period with the necessary measures is critical in terms of overcoming the crisis.

Although consumer habits seem to have turned towards e-commerce in this period, it is seen that retail will rise again after the pandemic. For this reason, first of all, stores need to take some steps to attract consumers to the stores, and the first of these is to create campaigns. If we divide customers into three categories as potential, new and loyal, incentives such as discount coupons that will enable them to come to the store for potential and new customer groups can be defined by social media or traditional advertising methods. In order for the loyal customer group to come to the store more, discount campaigns for in-store shopping or store-specific products will again be useful in turning these points into attraction points.

Due to the pandemic, hygiene has become one of the most significant factors that come to the fore for customers. Although life returns to normal in the post-epidemic period, consumers may behave psychologically for a while, despite the possibility of getting a virus. In this respect, activities such as social distancing practices, keeping a limited number of customers in the store at the same time, and having disinfectants for the use of both personnel and customers in the store can be planned to relieve consumers. In addition, eliminating the traffic in the checkout, which is one of the most triggering points in the store for consumer concerns about a virus infection, can play a significant role in making store traffic pre-pandemic. For this reason, contactless payment and cashier-less checkout applications can be used.

Sudden increases in demand may occur in the post-pandemic period, as many consumers postpone their non-compulsory expenses. Such situations are more likely to occur in categories such as white goods and furniture with higher prices and other than daily necessities. In the long run, consumers will return to their pre-pandemic habits, but in the short term, changes in consumer habits may be observed with the effects of the current situation. For this reason, stores must be prepared for this situation both in operational and personnel terms, they can purchase technologies that will increase their mobility capabilities. Customer data collected during and after the pandemic period will provide important insights. It has become even more critical to analyze trends and changing habits with the help of data. With the opening of the stores, applying to data-supported decisions will facilitate both operational functioning and planning.

By collecting these data thanks to Udentify image processing and machine learning technologies, it becomes the solution partner of stores in the retail sector in terms of queue forecasting, local conversion rate, staff efficiency, people counting, dwell time, density alerts, and real-time push notification system.

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