2020 has been a roller coaster year for the retail industry as a whole. While malls and large retail outlets were forced to shut down for months due to the coronavirus, consumers flocked to supermarkets to stock up on essential supplies, cleaning products, and canned goods. In fact, supermarkets and the CPG industry have been some of the few industries to remain pandemic-proof.     

COVID-19 has brought about a sudden change in our behavior and attitudes as large-scale health crises tend to do. Spending on essential supplies skyrocketed while spending on luxury almost became zero. Even when the vaccine is found and this invisible enemy is defeated, the ghost of COVID-19 will loom large in our lives. Global consumption patterns of the retail industry are not likely to bounce back to the pre-covid days in the foreseeable future.

Apart from changing consumer behavior, consumer safety is also a big challenge for retailers as they open their stores once more. How does one keep the clients and staff safe? When is the best time for consumers of the at-risk demographic to shop? How to store merchandise so as to reduce congestion at different counters?

Let’s look at some of the ways technology can be leveraged to make the transition to a post-covid world easier for retailers worldwide. 

Footfall Analytics

Contact tracing has been an important tool in the fight against COVID-19. Depending on the location, people use govt-issued contact tracing apps or third party applications available online. But what about the people who visit the stores – how can customers be traced to mitigate risk without spending a fortune on a custom analytics solution that might impede their privacy? A footfall analytics solution could be the answer to this problem.

Footfall analytics have been used in retail to identify customers and their consumer-journeys at stores. This system can provide anonymous aggregate footfall analytics to help companies see where customers or employees spent the most (or least) amount of time, and in turn, helps improve merchandising decisions. This data can also be used to identify peak and non-peak hours accurately and promote social distancing to control the occupancy rate of each individual store. 

Demand forecasting

Traditional forecasting models of retail analytics solutions that use historical data such as buying behavior, seasonality, etc. have been particularly hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Demand forecasting needs to replace its legacy algorithms with short-term forecasting models. These retail analytics solutions use models that take in real-time sales data from a Point of Sale (POS) system and analyze key demands, shortages and forecast necessary adjustments at the store level. 

Customer-facing applications

Many large retail chains have adopted customer-facing applications with varying degrees of success. But in 2020, these technologies have started getting customer acceptance like never before. Applications such as virtual queuing, contactless payment, self-checkout, and retail chatbots have been increasingly used by retailers and their customers. Retailers are leveraging technology such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) to offer hygiene centric shopping experiences. 

In the future, people will remember the times we live in as “The Pandemic Reality”. A time when every industry had to innovate rapidly to keep itself afloat. The retail industry is no different – the industry has to focus on how to safely open its doors to customers while also maintaining its supply chain. 

Experion Technologies has worked with retail giants around the world, helping them create footfall analytics solutions and sales forecasting solutions that have helped them tide through these unprecedented times. If you need a reliable and experienced IT partner to help your business meet future market conditions, drop a mail to sales@experionglobal.com