Future Stores Connect: Reimagining Retail in the Roaring 2020s

August 9, 2021

The roaring 20’s of retail is here- and we’re ready to reimagine what the future of omnichannel has to offer. Consumer behaviors have shifted, and it’s not clear yet what will stick. After all, retail has been redefining the role of physical stores for years (and that was before the global pandemic).

At Future Stores Connect, we joined countless conversations with industry changemakers who are focused on creating a seamless customer experience in today’s shifting retail landscape. 

These are our top takeaways from the conversations that we had at this interactive event.

Retailers are Preparing for the Return of Retail

Optimism abounds in the retail industry as consumers show with their attitudes and actions that they’re ready and excited to return to in-person shopping.

“2020 definitely was a challenging year. But it was also one of great learning and great growing.” says PJ Singh, VP-Stores Strategy & Product Management, Macy’s. “It was a year that we accomplished things that no one thought possible. And as we moved into 2021, health and safety was paramount for us.”

In order to capitalize on this opportunity, including welcoming back existing customers as well as acquiring new ones, retailers will need to ensure convenient, frictionless, and safe shopping experiences, increasingly across multiple channels. It’s more crucial than ever for retailers to reinvent physical stores for the future as part of a true omnichannel strategy.

That’s why Zipline created a Retail Recovery Guide just for brand leaders who are readying for the return of retail. Download your copy for access best practices for essential and non-essential retailers to optimize the in-store experience in a post-pandemic environment. 

Engaging Frontline Employees is Key

With more shopping options available to consumers than ever before, brick-and-mortar retailers need to master the in-person customer experience to stay competitive. And your customer’s experience is shaped by your employee experience.

Even though we are optimistic about consumer shopping habits evolving, it’s time to take a hard look at the labor shortage that we’re facing today.  After all, COVID-19 brought the struggles of part-time, frontline retail workers to light. And sure enough, up to 42% of retail workers are planning to leave the workforce.

Retail associates truly are the point of differentiation for retail brands, and your frontline workers are crucial when it comes to delivering exceptional customer experiences. And fortunately, there is a magic sauce that fosters the growth and success of retail store associates.

“I’m really excited about what type of technology will continue to empower associates, ensuring they are as knowledgeable as possible about products, services, policies, and also help them to personalize the experience,” says Danielle DiMaiolo Rendini, Head of Retail at American Girl.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide: To help our retail friends navigate the HR strategy building process and set their teams up for success in a post-Covid reality. Check out our Retail Talent Guide for statistics, trend analysis, case studies, and tactics to combat turnover and differentiate your brand in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Converging Physical and Digital Shopping Experiences

While we coax back shoppers to our brick-and-mortar stores in a shopping environment that has been forever shaped by Covid-19, we are learning how to meet customers where they are.

Retail success in this new era means making physical locations work harder than ever—in the physical and the virtual worlds… So brands today are reinventing brick-and-mortar as part of a true omnichannel strategy.

“A lot of customers that were primarily brick-and-mortar or stores-only customers felt the need to become more omnichannel,” says PJ. “Customers have evolved over the past year. That means that our stores now serve more purposes for us.”

Online and brick-and-mortar is no longer an either/or proposition. Retailers must truly connect online and in-store shopping. “Our stores are one of the best marketing vehicles that we have,” says Danielle.

As you make rapid shifts in strategy and operations, it’s important to keep the entire company in the loop and use communications to align the people throughout your organization.

Zipline was built to solve the unique challenges of communication in retail organizations. Reach out to learn more about how your stores can remain a vital part of the retail experience.

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