Retail industry key trends and challenges amidst COVID-19


Are you curious about the biggest retail trends taking place in traditional retailing and the ongoing challenges the industry is facing during Covid-19? This outlook will explore the key trends and challenges, along with the “how-to” question regarding implementing solutions.

The retail market has gone down since the COVID-19 restricted the going out of the public from their houses. Only the essential products are allowed to be purchased, like groceries, medicines, etc., but what about other leisure shopping?

Today, we will look at the main challenges that retailers face, as well as specific trends that must be implemented as they continue to dominate the market. 

Retail Industry Overview

Numerous variations in the retail sector occurred during the research period as a result of changing economic conditions around the world. The world economy, which had decelerated in the year 2019, has collapsed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 eruption, resulting in a difficult forecast timeframe for the retail industry.

Since the large percentage of goods in the industry are susceptible to economic swings, the retail economy is anticipated to rebound slowly during the first forecast phase, but once the situation calms down, consumer demand for the majority of products is expected to drive the market.

Let’s deep dive into the major challenges and the fresh-from-the-oven solutions that are going to be the deep foundation for other future opportunities.

Challenges and Solutions

Challenge #1: Customers’ inclination to online shopping and implementation of POS Solution

Due to the rise of the pandemic, Covid-19, and restrictions here and there, it is next to impossible to go out and buy in person from the store. This has crippled the large section of eCommerce to see its revenue increase. Struggling to keep their business go on, many small-to-large retailers are now shifting their focus towards owing their e-commerce sites to increase online sales.

It’s possible that getting an online and in-person alternative isn’t enough. With e-commerce and POS convergence, businesses would finally need to sync up these two domains. During and after the contagion, they will be able to better coordinate online and offline purchases, stocks, and promotions through both in-person outlets and online shops.

Challenge #2: Fear of disease transmission and no employee and no Cashier store solution

Having social distancing still a norm, many large stores across developed and developing countries are stepping up to the plate to execute employee and cashier-free stores plan. This way, customers will be free to do self-checkout.

RFID tags, computer vision applications, quantum computing, Internet of Things applications, and facial recognition can all be used to accomplish this task.  

Taking advantage of the same technologies used in self-driving cars viz., computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, Amazon’s Just Walk Out system allows customers to enter the store using their credit cards, shop, and walk out. The Store keeps track of the products purchased into the virtual cart through the IoT network. When a customer exits a shop, the credit card on file is automatically charged and if receipts are needed by a customer, it is emailed to the recipient’s email address. Moreover, if more details about an item are required by shoppers without touching it, they can scan the QR code and barcodes through smartphones.

Challenge #3: Restrictions on Try and Buy system and virtual fitting room solution

Although the virtual fitting room concept is running in the market since the year 2011, it was not that much in-trend until now. Now that the Covid-19 is prevailing as quickly as a flash, this concept is now becoming popular day by day. 

Gartner estimated that augmented reality would reach 100 million users by 2020, and they were right. In 2021, the purview of augmented reality in the retail sector cannot be underestimated.

Through the virtual fitting room concept, customers can try the products on themselves via their smartphones. Retail companies like Gap have released an AR app called “DressingRoom,” which enables shoppers to try on clothes remotely using any Google Tango-enabled gadget.

Californian e-commerce company Tenth Street Hats has implemented an AR-enabled “Try it on” button on its page for customer’s convenience and satisfaction.

Challenge #4: Supply Chain management issues and mobility & IoT management solutions

Many retail companies have realized the worthiness of vital supply chains and customer service management lately due to an unexpected surge in the Covid outbreak. Many companies have launched their own robots and autonomous vehicles for driverless products’ delivery for faster delivery.

With the rise of online shopping and the need for quicker delivery, distributors must conduct inventory reviews, automate orders for elevated stock, and monitor orders in real-time. For this reason, the right IoT and mobility solutions are required to assist them in remaining compliant, streamlining processes, and reducing system downtime, all whilst also providing excellent customer support. Many companies have launched their own robots and autonomous vehicles for faster driverless product delivery.

Challenge #5: Customers’ ceaseless changing behavior and personalized shopping experience

Customers’ changing behavior can only be dealt with personalization techniques, which can be driven by ML and data science. With the help of ML, e-retailers craft tailored suggestions to make customers’ experiences extraordinarily wonderful.

Even brick-and-mortar stores are also using the RFID and Bluetooth low energy to improve retail personalization experiences.  Many companies have implemented NLP-powered chatbots to communicate with customers to offer deals, promotions, recommendations, etc. 

ML has enabled companies to forecast customer demand. These technologies help with automated demand forecasting, inventory planning, customer and supplier relationship management, logistics, production, and branding.

Demand forecasting will be important even after the pandemic is over.

Hi-tech solutions for Retail sector in new normal

All credit for the implementation and execution of these hi-fi technologies goes to the Covid-19, as it brought a lifetime of opportunity for the retail sector. Even after the end of this pandemic, these techs will work ceaselessly and unfailingly to generate many newer opportunities and will let retailers ride the gravy train.

Guest article written by: Shaw is the full-time technical content writer for Apptread and been in the domain for around 3 years. She is an avid reader and tech-savvy who loves to write about new and innovative cutting-edge technologies. She is an enthusiastic, dedicated and passionate writer who aims to make aware individuals and businesses about the latest and sophisticated technologies

3 thoughts on “Retail industry key trends and challenges amidst COVID-19”

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