Death of Physical Retail Due to COVID-19?
Just this morning, a well-known financial expert expressed on the radio that now is a poor time to invest in the retail sector. Some of his main reasoning is that big box retail customers have made the switch from physical shopping to online due to the virus outbreak. He says customers who never before would shop at a big-box retailer like Walmart and preferred smaller, specialty boutiques have now changed their habits and going forward, will do all of their shopping from the comforts and germ-free safety of their homes.
This same financial expert believes that in-store retail is going to be crushed or will die from this new “normal” meaning all customers who used to prefer to shop in physical retail will shop only online. Hence he thinks it’s a poor time to invest in our industry.
The new “normal” or death of brick and mortar retail and the rise of online shopping is exactly what the “experts” forecasted when the internet started and e-commerce became a large part of the sales channel.
Now, looking back a decade or so, and pre-Covid-19, did e-commerce really take away from the brand’s ability to serve its customers in physical retail?
E-commerce has made it more convenient for our customers to be reached and delighted. It has added value to the physical retail experience. (Think buy online, pick up in-store.)
Digitally native retailers (e-commerce only brands) or D2C, (direct to consumer brands) have found the value that physical retail offers to drive both positive brand awareness and revenue so they changed their business model from online-only and opened pop-ups and retail stores.
Bottom line, stop worrying. Please.
Physical retail will never be fully replaced by e-commerce. You know why? Because humans are relational creatures. We need eye contact, personal interaction that engaging with another provides.
Yes, online shopping will continue to get way more personal and humanized as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but I promise physical retail isn’t going anywhere once we get back to “normal.” Yes, we will have to adjust sanitary standards to be sure, and other things, but please, please, please, don’t believe all the doom and gloom that’s in the news right now.
Physical retail isn’t going to die. It will shift and the smart retailers, the ones who will succeed in the post-Covid-19 world, will re-enter the retail market with a super focused, hyper-personalized, in-store experience.
If I had money to invest, I would invest in the retail brands that are solving problems and helping the world. Think Target, grocery stores, Costco they are the retail heroes right now.
To my fellow retailers reading this, I beg you to:
1) Push aside the negative ideas you see in the news regarding our industry.
2) Stay focused on the magic that you create through your physical and digital retail store. Dwell on that during this time.
3) Use this time to rest, spend time with your family and improve your clienteling and marketing for your business.
4) Get uber focused on who you are serving and why you serve them through the goods that you sell.
5) If you need some help to get started reach out to me directly. We are here to help you through this.
And remember, physical retail will never die. E-commerce only makes it stronger.