How will retailing and the shopping environment change post Covid?

18 May 2020

The future of the shopping environments we’re all used to have been impacted forever by Covid-19, we look at how they are likely to change in the post Covid environment.

Consumers in the UK and Ireland love to shop, but Covid-19 has forced them to reshape their shopping behaviours and this will continue in the post-Covid environment. This will alter retail and the shopping environment as we used to know it. Following our exploration of the post Covid environment through the lenses of consumers and cities, this week we look at how the retail and the shopping environment will change across different sectors.

We start the week with a view on the macro changes we can expect to see with our Group Strategy and Marketing Director, Gordon Neil.

"Every consumer is now used to online playing a major role in the shopping journey, whatever the sector. Combine this with a consumer who’ll be mindful of health, money and personal impact on the world, and you have a recipe for a significantly different shopping environment. I’ve picked out 6 macro trends that I expect to see across all sectors.

1. The acceleration of mixed-use space, blending retail and services in one space

Offering services and retail in one space will be a key driver for bringing the new consumer back to bricks and mortar. Malls and large retail spaces can win if they blend shopping with space to relax, socialise safely, and work. Consumers will be working differently with agile working and homeworking defining their future. With that in mind, shopping environments should be considering how they draw people in and drive dwell time, the answer undoubtedly lies in mixed use space.

2. Harmonised retail will become the new trend over omnichannel

I was struck when re-reading an article from Forbes last year, which argued that brands should be thinking about harmonised retail rather than omnichannel. In a post covid environment, that makes more sense than ever. At the end of the day, the consumer is the channel, brands and retailers that realise that will win. Providing consumers with a consistent experience will be key, irrespective of where and which channel their shopping journey starts and ends.

3. The conscientious consumer drives the rise of ethical retailing

For some time, we’ve lived in a society where products are largely seen as disposable. Access to low cost products across all sectors has driven this thinking, but all that could be about to change. Covid-19 has made consumers more conscious from both an ethical and financial perspective. Brands and retailers that can demonstrate their ethics and minimal environmental impact are most likely to win. This doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the end of value retailing, but that will need to come with more clarity on product provenance, ethical production and environmental friendliness.   

4. Mature digital consumers change the face of online

Covid-19 has ensured that every consumer now has online as part of their journey. Brands and retailers will need to rethink their online strategy as they communicate with a wider group of consumers than they ever have. A wider group means wider needs and one size will not fit all! Thought will need to go into the entry point for each consumer, how to provide rich experiences for one group and simplicity for another. It’s the only way to win in a world where the online consumer is every consumer for some brands.

5. Efficiency and experience delivered by technology

Not only will technology be key to delivering amazing consumer experiences, it’ll also be key for delivering an efficient shopping experience. Expect to see an explosion of AR and VR to help deliver safe personal experiences and the rise of virtual experiences to connect the online shopper with the physical environment to get the advice they seek before making purchasing decisions. On the efficiency side, expect even more self-service technology, including the use of tech to navigate the outlet, product ordering and payment.

6. Smaller is better, enabling the rise of mircrobrands and boutiques

As consumers go hyperlocal in their shopping habits, the opportunity is created for microbrands and boutiques to accelerate. Post Covid will be a renters market, enabling new entrants to open up physical locations in local neighbourhoods. The warning on this one is that consumers will need to trust what they’re buying, meaning microbrands and boutiques will need to work hard in the early days to build that trust, but once it’s established, loyalty will prevail."

Join us through the rest of this week when we look at the impact of the changing face of the shopping environment through the lenses of ecommerce, shopping malls, fashion, and luxury retail. Follow our LinkedIn page to keep up to date with our latest views.




For more information on Gordon Neil, Strategy & Marketing Director, visit his LinkedIn page