Once known for their ubiquitous yet irrelevant presence, quick response (QR) codes have made a comeback during the pandemic. The scannable tech's ease of use is now being applied to digital restaurant menus and checkout payment systems. But it's not just local businesses that are helping QR codes' popularity resurge, but also big companies like Instagram, CVS and Walmart that are investing in building their own.
As the pandemic continues, non-essentials focused on health and wellness are enjoying an upswing while riding the uncertainty wave. The already-booming CBD industry, which took off about two years ago and was already teetering on saturation, has extended its momentum thanks to the current wellness-focused consumer behaviors.
It took it nearly three decades since its humble beginnings, but the QR code is officially considered hip. Thanks to its ubiquitous presence at shops and restaurants across the country, this year the QR code's technology is making up for lost time.
Last week, Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands Group submitted a $305 million for 200-year-old bankrupt apparel retailer Brooks Brothers, through a joint LLC the two had set up called Sparc. The deal is still subject to court approval, as well as if higher bids come in. But no matter how the deal pans out, it gives some important insight into what mall owners like Simon are looking for in acquisition targets, as an unprecedented number of struggling retailers are likely to be up for sale this year.
Returns and exchanges have always been a pain point for both customers and retailers, especially online. However, factors like safety concerns and shipping delays have prompted retailers in evolving their policies to be more flexible. In theory, this strategy would result in an influx of refund requests during the e-commerce boom. Instead, the competitive perk is creating more opportunity for sales and longterm customer loyalty among brands.
Back-to-school shopping is an important time of year for retailers. Parents typically spend hundreds of dollars, on average, during back-to-school season, and it's one of the few shopping holidays where spending hasn't drastically shifted as much online. But that could change this year, thanks to the coronavirus, as shoppers remain hesitant to visit stores, and parents are unsure yet what all they will exactly need on their kids' back-to-school list.
As Gap takes another legal hit from landlords, the physical retail world and commercial real estate worlds may continue to face mounting tension before new terms are set. While some retailers face lawsuits, others are trying to ink agreements to temporarily pause rent, with the understanding things will pick back up in the future. Some players are also renegotiating leases to encompass future unprecedented crises. Put together, it points to future commercial real estate contracts having a new look.
The coffee industry has had to grapple with the future of wholesale since the pandemic hit. However, it's also opened up new revenue streams. The combination of millions of customers working from home along with cafes operating at limited capacity forced roasters and distributors to quickly pivot to DTC.
Startups catering to office-based employers are rethinking their services to fit the new workplace. Solutions for socially distant workplace designs is proving to be a major opportunity for some businesses. From health workstation partitions to individually packaged kitchen staples, here are some of the ways companies have changed their services to offer social distancing service.
As one of the early DNVBs to incorporate physical retail, menswear brand Untuckit was hit hard by the pandemic. Many items saw demand slip and all of its stores had to close down. Despite the setbacks, founder Chris Riccobono told Modern Retail he doesn't have plans to permanently close any stores.
Proof underwear's April launch could have gone many ways, but it happened to coincide with low CAC and an unexpected solution for quarantined women. "When people took their foot off the gas, we put ours on," said co-founder Lori Caden. She and her sister co-founder talked about launching their latest brands -- as well their earlier company that debuted in 2008.
Both businesses and consumers are seeking out more flexible payments options. E-commerce platforms like Shopify and Alibaba are building out their own features -- granting both consumers and merchants more flexible payments options. Shoppers utilize these services to finance purchases without the use of credit cards; small online retailers are increasingly being offered the ability to procure or produce inventory without fronting large sums of money.
Running different channels requires skills and discipline. Brand consistency is key, especially when many channels are involved internationally and across different touch points. Ask “what are the reasons to come to the site and why is the experience special?” said Ugly Drinks CEO Hugh Thomas.
Most American shoppers are still “fearful to shop at a grocery store." The lack of delivery slots combined with a rising unemployment rate and shopping-related health risks, is resulting in a decline in cross-shopping. Grocery stores, as a result, are trying to focus more on marketing as one-stop shops. And they're seeing results too: average basket sizes have dramatically increased.
"Obviously, it’s impossible to pin a garment at a six foot distance," said Suitsupply CEO Fokke de Jong. This prompted him to think outside the box by installing clear, free-standing partitions for fitting areas. But the overall strategy focuses on starting the shopper's journey before arriving at the store, including encouraging virtual co-browsing and fitting room reservations, to increase efficiency and reduce contact.
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