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Life after lockdown - what does the future of retail look like?

IT software solutions provider, KFA Connect, has been reflecting on what life after lockdown will look like for many businesses, as conversations turn towards a gradual lifting of restrictions in the weeks and months to come.

In particular, the way people will shop in the future is likely to change dramatically as retail companies face a huge challenge across the industry to adapt to the latest threat of a country-wide lockdown. Could this be the end for some bricks and mortar stores? New Business Director at KFA Connect, Richard Austin says that this does not have to be the case, but retail businesses will need to sell and increase their range across as many sales channels as possible in order to improve chances of survival.

Richard comments: “With lockdown in place and the likelihood of a gradual return to work, many retail stores will remain closed or sadly go out of business altogether. In addition, the average consumer is unlikely to go to the shops unless they need to. With social distancing remaining in place indefinitely and shoppers not wishing to join long queues for clothing stores, it’s time to consider the long-term effects.”

“The likelihood is, that people will continue to buy online from the security of their homes for a long time to come. Online sales are on an upward trajectory with no sign of slowing down and lockdown has changed the behaviour of the population with little chance of it reversing. It is imperative that businesses look to sell and increase their range online as soon as possible, as a surge in sales post-lockdown is too risky to rely on. The change in behaviour is evident in the noticeable increase in online ordering for our e-commerce customers since lockdown, with some seeing a 60% increase in online sales since lockdown.

Richard adds: “Another challenge retailer’s face is a sudden increase in pressure on deliveries. Additional online ordering means companies must be able to switch between couriers easily, and to mitigate this we strongly suggest the use of software systems that integrate with multiple couriers. This will ultimately offer more flexibility to enable a business to run efficiently and eliminate any internal process issues.”

There has been a huge variant in the way retail companies have been able to respond to online ordering, from some small businesses opening only 1-2 days per week, to large high street chains capping daily order numbers, to the likes of Amazon reportedly reaping a $11,000-a-second during lockdown. Whichever way you look at it, it is a sink or swim situation and while online order numbers remain high for those with e-commerce options in place, businesses still need to understand the best way to manage them.

KFA Connect is advising these businesses not to lose sight of the long-term, and embrace technology more than ever, as you truly never know what is around the corner.

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