A Post-Pandemic Mindset: Find out which retail tactics you should drop, and which are here to stay

Published August 11, 2021

Plexiglass, igloos, curbside pickup—which of the COVID-related trends are going to stick around?

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As a business owner, you may be feeling a little shell shocked after the last year. The pandemic has forever altered the retail landscape in so many ways, and this many changes in such a short amount of time can leave retail store owners feeling burnt out. Now that the dust is settling, you’re left wondering which tactics you should keep and which ones you shouldn’t waste another second on. President and General Manager of NCR’s retail division, David Wilkinson, has you covered.

The following is a summary of a recent interview he gave to share some of the trends he saw emerge during the pandemic and what the future holds for them—so you can determine which operational changes you should keep investing in and the ones you can ditch.

Which trends are here to stay:

1. Labor changes

The labor crisis and the issues that brought us to this point will not be resolved any time soon. Labor availability is down, while the demand keeps increasing as we return back to our day-to-day lives. The good news for employees is that labor wages are increasing, and workers will soon see a pay increase in their future for returning to the workforce.

If you cannot keep your store fully staffed during this time of uncertainty, make sure you give your customers plenty of options for contactless payment. Otherwise, you could be holding onto old habits that are only hurting the efficiency of your store. Remember the rule of 3: your customers should have no less than three ways to pay after the pandemic.

Make sure you have at least three of these options:

Related: Managing labor with self-checkout

2. The shift away from brand loyalty

Before the pandemic, consumers had their list of brands they were loyal to—always looking for those familiar labels on the shelf and picking it up without question. But when demand was high and supply dropped, they reached for their label only to find they were sold out! So, for the first time in a long time they picked up a different brand, did a little research, and tried something new. And then maybe they enjoyed the new brand more and switched.

Or maybe some consumers got tired of walking into the store not knowing which brands would be sold out and which ones weren’t. So, they went online—perhaps for the first time. Instead of getting in their cars and risking their safety only to find that their familiar brand was sold out, consumers decided to log onto their favorite sites and ordered all of their necessities with a few clicks from the comfort of their couch.

Ordering online and having items delivered, or even newer options like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up in Store) limited the amount of time spent in stores and has become the preferred method of shopping. Make sure your retail store has a POS system that can accommodate in store, online, and pick up options simultaneously so that you don’t miss out on potential business.

3. Use of data to optimize performance

Because so much shopping is done online now, it is easier than ever to collect data on new trends and potential customers. Make sure you choose a POS that can help you gather data on your industry, and use it to predict the coming trends. Even though a lot of shopping is done online, you can use the data from your comprehensive POS system to get to know your customers and the trends like never before.

If you can predict what your customers will be buying next, you can keep your shelves stocked and looking pristine. Remember the point David made about customer loyalty? If your shelves are fully stocked, they will be more likely to reach for the same brand that they have been shopping all of these years.

But with more online shopping, there also comes more chances for theft or even hackers to infiltrate your bottom line. Customers need to feel they have a safe shopping environment when they shop online or from their mobile device. So, make sure you choose a POS system that is secure enough to handle all of your new business, as well as protect you from online threats.

Which trends you won’t be needing:

1. Plexiglass: Well, you already spent money on it, so reevaluate the atmosphere of your store, and decide accordingly if the use of plexiglass is necessary. Customers may be tired of yelling over the clear plastic, so determine the impact of plexiglass on the customer experience in your store.

2. Social distance spacing/lanes: They have already become dingy and dirty from being walked on for over a year, time to pull those nasty stickers off the ground. Did your customers really ever follow them anyway?

3. Kneejerk reactions: Any other tactics you jumped the gun on in the first few weeks of the pandemic can go. There was a lot of confusion in the beginning, nobody is going to laugh about just how much Lysol you were using.

Instead, think of the ways you can personalize you store. If your customers are actually coming into the shop, show them you appreciate their brick-and-mortar business and treat them to a great shopping experience. That includes making them feel safe, giving them the option for contactless payment, and keeping surfaces of your point of sales kiosk spotless with antimicrobial coatings. According to David, the most important priority for every business owner right now is to “focus on the things that made life convenient.

The pandemic has changed the face of the retail industry forever, but those changes don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. You can identify which tactics were kneejerk reactions that don’t have any place in the current climate and keep anything that made life more convenient for your customers.

Watch the interview with David Wilkinson to hear exactly what he said about gaining tactics that will help you navigate the future market—including ways NCR can help you run your store and stay ahead of trends as they continue to change.

WEBINAR: Reimagine your grocery or c-store checkout experience & lower costs using your data.

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