Given the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, public health experts around the world discouraged in-person shopping in 2020. As the vaccine rolls out, people will
begin returning to public retail spaces. Until then, in-person shopping will remain largely on hold, as consumers favor buying items online and picking them up at the
store, often curbside.
Personal shopping services will increase
One way that retail locations have dealt with the decline in foot traffic has been through the practice of personal shopping, which has store employees shopping for
the customer. Whether that means sending the business a list of items the customer needs or shopping with the employee using basic mobile video technology, this method
of shopping has been embraced by many big-name brands.
Deb Gabor, CEO of Sol Marketing and author of Irrational Loyalty: Building a Brand That Thrives in Turbulent Times, expects that small businesses will continue to
offer this sort of service after the pandemic is taken care of.
“This was a trend we were starting to see pre-COVID, and the pandemic has accelerated the process of adoption,” she said. “Local and small retailers are especially
well suited to these kinds of personalized experiences and are leading the charge in the category.”
Automation in pricing will continue to rise
An item’s price is usually determined by a number of factors, but in recent years, more and more companies have relied on automated technology to ensure their prices
are properly set.
Omri Traub, CEO and founder of Popcart, expects automation to play an even bigger part in this arena going forward, pointing to “a new wave of companies” that provide
such automation solutions as a service. Once implemented, he said, the tech will provide “low implementation costs and [reductions to] operating costs.”
“With continued shortages of workers within select domains, automation investments will continue to increase,” Traub said. “Examples for small business include online
pricing automation to balance profitability and revenue growth, as well as inventory management systems to ensure the perfect amount of inventory is on hand.”
Key takeaway: More retail technologies are being automated, and they will be offered in the cloud, making them affordable to more businesses. Retailers should consider
offering personal shopping services to consumers who aren’t yet ready to shop in person or appreciate the convenience of shopping remotely.