How the Covid-19 pandemic has redefined the retail sector
Achal Chaurasia-Retail Business After Covid
The pandemic of 2020 changed the world as we knew it. It triggered such dramatic shifts in consumer behavior in one year that businesses had to completely re imagine how they served consumers as they shopped, ate, and lived in the new normal. The new normal is the new normal; it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
As a result, there is an urgent need to reassess priorities across the board, redefine business goals, and re strategize operations to suit changing personal and professional values. Fortunately, we have some good news. The Indian retail sector is expected to grow from $ 1200 billion in 2021 to $ 1750 billion in 2026, despite a slight dip in 2020, according to this report. The world isn’t looking back; it’s trudging onward towards higher potential. New opportunities, new business ideas, unique professional lifestyles are all emerging around every corner.
What are the action points that retail businesses should focus on to ensure that they grow?
Here is what I think –
Building a culture around digital transformation
Nationwide lock downs nudged brick and mortar businesses, from fashion retail giants to fast-food chains, to digitize and leverage online selling and delivery. While companies invested in the tech and platforms to reach customers, discover new markets, and fulfill customer needs, many forgot to prepare their teams for this acceleration.
This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest follies they could have committed. The gap between the entrenched attitudes that people hold about professional lifestyles and the rapidly transforming business landscape has swallowed many promising young entrepreneurs. Both digital skills and digital mindset need to be cultivated in workers at all levels in a not overwhelming way.
Being mindful of the risks of burnout due to extended hours and increased screen time will result in lower attrition and ultimately encourage more investments in hiring and training. This is especially important when businesses are looking to regain ground when it comes to lost revenue.
Don’t underestimate the competition
The adaption to online buying and digital payments has made retail a fair game for a slew of businesses, from homegrown brands and SMEs, to boutique and D2C businesses. Gone are the days when a single brick-and-mortar retailer would claim an entire area.
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The pandemic has spawned new enterprises, especially as job displacement nudges millions of people to turn entrepreneurs. Small business owners sell everything from cakes to handmade jewelry and baby clothing and grow their national and international footprints. Businesses must acknowledge that even a tiny fish in a big pond can emerge as a significant player tomorrow. From core offerings to streamlining operations, businesses must innovate to stay ahead.
Listen to what your consumers are telling you
The last five years have seen a shift in consumer narratives across a host of sectors. For instance, consumer demand for natural and organic beauty products and services, gluten-free, lactose-free, high-value nutrition, safer, gender-neutral, educational toys, and sustainable fashion has increased. While several D2C businesses have built innovative products around these needs, some FMCGs have begun redefining their offering around these needs. Listening to what consumers are telling you is of high value. Social listening can happen through social media, emails, customer service, and other touch points. Those companies that recognize the importance of deep listening, and make early investments in the R&D required to innovate, will continue to grow their market cap.
Reduce the room for error
While digitization has brought with it several advantages, it has also made consumers spoilt for choice. Hence, improved customer support and accountability towards consumers deserve much more attention than in the pre-COVID-19 era. Consumers, these days, are less tolerant of delayed deliveries and incorrect deliveries, especially with the risk of increased exposure with every error.
Streamline and simplify
Streamlining all operations and processes has become even more critical in a post-pandemic world. For example, streamlining sales operations and tech stacks are almost non-negotiable for any digitized business. Data leakages and inadequate lead generation are the precursors of lost opportunities and wasted time. This is also a time to accept that less is more. Fewer meetings, fewer tech interfaces, streamlined communication, and better impact and business outcomes propel the way forward.
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Covid-19 may recede into a memory in the future, but its effects will likely revolutionize the way we look at business forever. Retailers need to realize that the new normal is here to stay. It’s crucial to evaluate every little aspect of your business to ensure that it keeps up with the rapidly changing circumstances. The devil lies in the details, and businesses must optimize all processes and maximize efficiency, to sustain, survive and thrive in these unprecedented times.
A young businessman who has been in the line of entrepreneurship for quite a few years. He is an active learner and loves to know more about new technological developments coming up as well as how they can be put to great use to yield better results for society.