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Across the global retail sector, the fusion of physical and digital commerce has long been underway. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen retailers around the world take a significant step towards a complete omnichannel offering, as they sought new opportunities to generate sales online and stay operational despite physical store closures.
Before the pandemic, retailers were already experiencing significant pressure to adapt to a growing online world. This has seen exponential growth as research reveals e-commerce sales have soared during the pandemic, with 40% of consumers ‘increasing or significantly increasing’ their online purchasing, rising to 48% for households with children and millennials . However, as many countries emerge from government restricted lockdowns, consumers are demanding the choice to shop online or in-store - with a range of browsing, purchasing, delivery and return options expected.
The importance of an omnichannel approach
Retailers who managed to turn these challenges into something positive maintained and strengthened the trust of their customers. The majority did this by switching from brick and mortar stores to an omnichannel offering , proving that e-commerce was the key to success. This is the reason why many brands continue to review their omnichannel approach and are looking for innovative technologies to help them manage new operational and inventory challenges.
Consumer behaviour in recent weeks has confirmed the importance of an omnichannel approach. Online spending has increased enormously in many European countries because of physical lockdown restrictions, with consumers naturally spending more online. However, for retailers managing a physical store and online sales, this has created new inventory management challenges.
Embracing an omnichannel future
To optimise the omnichannel, retailers require better insights, particularly when it comes to the management of stock. As a result, RFID solutions have become critical for retailers looking to bounce back and maximise their sales opportunities. Why? Because RFID-enabled merchandise can be traced and identified throughout the supply chain. This enables retailers to view, in real-time, how much stock is available for online sales and how much they have in the store. Ultimately, this helps them to improve the customer experience, as online shoppers, and in-store personnel can see if a specific product is in stock at the touch of a button.
Brands looking to the future are already deploying this technology and are seeing their sales grow, with less working capital. Many will continue to grow their online and omnichannel sales, with customers enjoying a streamlined shopping experience and improved merchandise availability.
Moreover, the convenience and tranquility RFID provides retailers, enables them to confidently offer more stock via e-commerce. They can also use stores as pick-up locations, without the need for buffer stock or the worry of cancellation rates that can negatively impact customer satisfaction.
From omnichannel to the 1.5-metre economy
While reviewing their omnichannel strategies, retailers are also facing unprecedented challenges as they look to manage social distancing requirements in-store.
To ensure safety in the shops, many retailers around Europe have restrictions on the number of people that can enter their stores. Some are implementing this by making shopping carts compulsory and reducing their supply. However, innovative technology solutions are helping retailers to efficiently manage occupancy levels in real-time. Take our latest solution, SmartOccupancy, for example. An all-new system from Checkpoint Systems that enables retailers to manage their store occupancy in real-time, maintaining a safe environment for consumers and store employees. Many European retailers have already embraced these solutions with over 1,000 installations completed. Big European retailers that have committed to these solutions include Fnac Spain, Edeka in Germany, Consum in Spain, a big German Food retailer, a railway company in Italy and much more, totaling more than 1000 installation already!