In 2020, in-store foot traffic dropped precipitously due to pandemic stay-at-home orders and social distancing regulations. While large retailers like Kohl’s discussed the return-to-store in their 2021 first quarter earnings calls, many brands report that foot traffic still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. To draw consumers back to store after a year spent at home, brands are returning to events, offering in-store-exclusives and courting a vaccinated consumer.
Late last year, the use of virtual assistants in physical stores received a major boost when Amazon started integrating Alexa into its growing physical retail network -- most prominently in its Amazon Fresh grocery stores. Around the same time, other retailers, like McDonald's, also began offering voice assistants at stores -- suggesting that a concept long relegated to novelty status might be catching on in the wake of the pandemic.
The future of samples is pre-packed, according to brands experimenting with handing out free products in the coming months. As CPG brands attempt to find and retain customers, some companies are looking to digital and outdoor pop-ups to distribute samples.
Throughout the pandemic, retail workers found their to-do-lists growing by the day. At the beginning of the pandemic, they were tasked with cleaning down highly-trafficked areas and working quickly to restock the items that were flying off the shelves, like toilet paper. Then, during the first round of stay-at-home orders, many of them were transferred over to fulfill curbside and buy online pickup in-store orders, services that became more popular during the pandemic. As a result, many retail workers are feeling burnt out after a year of being pulled in multiple directions.
Fast food and fast casual chains are betting on drive-thrus to remain popular, even as the pandemic subsides. Particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, restaurants struggled as indoor dining shuttered in most states. But, drive-thru visits soared, up 26% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020 according to NPD Group. In response, experienced drive-thru players like McDonald’s as well as other newer players announced new investments in the feature.
Last month, the CDC announced the loosening of its mask guidance, saying people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are not required to wear a mask “in any setting” unless local laws and regulations demanded it. Since then, retailers have been left to their own devices to come up with new mask guidelines for employees and customers. Modern Retail spoke to four people currently working in retail about how they feel about these new guidelines.
After a year and a half of unevenly applied US Covid-19 regulations as well as various city exoduses, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago’s retail scenes fare differently. While many hope for a return to store in 2021, retailers' fates rest somewhat on location. Here's our look into how the three cities are faring.
As store workers at many big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy are now expected to deal with both online and in-store orders, retailers are increasingly thinking about creating new tech tools to help workers manage the growing list of tasks they're responsible for. Walmart, for example announced last week that it was creating a new mobile app called [email protected] Through the app, store employees can manage their shifts and view their schedules, use a voice-activated personal assistant to answer common questions, such as where certain items are located throughout the store, and eventually, use the app to scan merchandise in the backroom.
As the United States begins to reopen, small fashion startups navigate new consumer interest in dressing up, bright colors, and in-store experiences. The fashion industry struggled in the pandemic, with economic uncertainty slowing discretionary spending and leading to store closures. Small fashion brands, with limited assortments and nimble business teams, pivoted to e-commerce and comfort. Now, small fashion start-ups are offering bright colors, dressed up silhouettes and in-store experiences that consumers are flocking to.
Over the last few days, major retail businesses released a flurry of statements over the weekend updating to a no-mask-policy or doubling down on continued mask usage for customers and employees alike. However, most of these businesses didn’t address their plans to support their sales associates amongst the confusion, and some employees are concerned about enforcement, health, and safety moving forward.
Nordstrom, Amazon, Mall of America, TikTok, Walmart and hundreds of other brands are trying to popularize the medium to the United States. That has, in turn, giving rise to a new category of retail professional: livestream shopping host.
E-commerce brands are getting ready to test the waters of physical retail again. The increase in vaccinations over the spring has coincided with an uptick in pop-ups from e-commerce companies like Misfits Market and Cuts Clothing. The interest in pop-ups is being spurred by a combination of factors, including the fact that rent is still low in many places right now. But not all e-commerce companies are fully ready to commit to retail again.
Despite the record number of closures of brick and mortar stores over the past year, some retailers are finding an expansion opportunity. Several brands -- especially in booming categories like athleisure and discount stores -- are taking advantage of real estate deals to increase their footprint. Among them are Gap Inc., Lululemon and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The installment payment space is infiltrating local businesses. After a year of customers seeking the financing options from tech startups like Klarna and Affirm, buy now pay later startup Sunbit is hoping to ride that wave by attracting small merchants.
A year into the pandemic, digital and mobile have become retailer must haves. Warehouse clubs have typically been behind the times when it comes to those types of services. However, as the success of the Sam's Club shows, Walmart's investment in mobile shopping features has paid off for the subsidiary.
At the Modern Retail Summit, retail marketers will discuss everything from the Amazon effect to new infrastructure to the shift in the direct-to-consumer world.Book Passes