Everything from the way we work to the way we buy uniforms has been (potentially) forever altered by this worldwide pandemic. In fact, it’s hard to envision a society where we don’t wear masks anymore and stores don’t readily supply hand sanitizer at the checkout stations. But no industry has changed as greatly as the retail landscape since this all started.
As we all know by now that an economic recession always exposes existing weakness in the industry.It accelerates emerging trends, and forces organizations to make changes faster than they planned.
In order to understand how the retail marketplace has changed, we have to look back at the 2008 recession. Because sometimes it takes going back to the past to understand the future. In the great recession of the late 2000’s, eCommerce grew and the sales of physical stores declined.
As the economic recovery took hold, that trend continued by off-price and discount. The emerging players won business and loyal customers by appealing to new consumer demands. But it didn’t hold for too long. Once the recovery had taken full effect and things had returned to normal. The shoppers returned to stores and eCommerce evened itself out, but managed to keep steady pace with physical stores in spite of this fact.
So, for this COVID-influenced recession, a similar pattern is already in progress. This is at heightened level and early signs are showing this new normal of shopping could be here to stay for good this time.
To combat the effects of COVID, many uniform stores have embraced digital and opened online store counterparts. This is reason why existing online stores are doubling up their efforts to stay ahead of the already oversaturated digital marketplace.They are becoming even more competitive as more and more traditional stores went online to subsidize the future of their own companies.
The demands for convenience and to remain safe and healthy,this is driving contact-less transactions. This is forcing physical stores to create contact-less ways to help shoppers continue to buy without having to interact with other shoppers. They’re arranging curbside pickups and offering their services online.
As stated before, as COVID accelerated so did the speed of digital retail. Retailers with strong automated platforms and smart data succeeded with connecting to customers.They started offering their customers additional services and value.
Consumers are much more willing to embrace and explore digital experiences.It is due to public health concerns including virtual payments, online uniform purchasing, digital embroidery and personalization, faster shipping methods, and so much more.
When the crisis hit, retailers had to rapidly roll out conveniences such as buy online, pick up in-store, curbside, and delivery. Those with the automated systems already in place to offer such conveniences have shown much more success than the retailers who didn’t.
There’s also been a push lately to improve direct interactions with shoppers and process returns more easily. Those without sophisticated and automated eCommerce platforms are expected to see a higher amount of uniform returns and order errors. Physical stores have turned into fulfillment centers and pickup points. Lastly, supply chains are being resurrected to fulfill specific orders to households rather than to large-format stores.
What Tech is Emerging?
Retailers are forced to find alternate ways to maintain trust and loyalty with their existing and new customers. That’s partially why the digital transformation has seen the introduction of so many new forms of technologies. They’ve investing in new software, services, tools, products, and features such as embroidery, size fit solutions, and more.It is to keep customers entertained while offering a streamlined and automated online shopping experience.
While at physical stores, people may spend up to on average 30 minutes inside a store. Recent studies have proven that shoppers have far less patience online. If your site takes too long to load or they can’t immediately locate a uniform or accessory they’re looking for.This will move the users to a less time-consuming and efficient webstore. And it’s likely you lost that customer forever.
So, retailers are investing in new products and services that they otherwise never would’ve considered offering in the first place. Some uniform retailers are offering an enhanced embroidery and personalization service online.
Other retailers are implementing new size fit solutions.It is a technology that allows customers to view only products on the site that are available in their size. This limits the time they spend and helps them reach the checkout page faster. After all, the longer it takes, the more opportunity you’re giving them to flee your site.
All in all, while COVID may eventually be eradicated and things will return to normal, the same cannot be said for the second wave of eCommerce. In 2008, the routine of searching for uniforms and other products online has come before and disappeared. In 2021, it’s here again and this time, it’s here to stay.
To decide if a trend makes sense for your business, check out our latest blog article, 4 Tips
To Help You Decide if a Uniform Trend Makes Sense For Your Business.