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The return of retail, but not as we know it

Published: 26 May 2020 - Neil Mead

Non-essential retail stores will re-open in less than three weeks, but how will Britain's retailers fare in the post-Covid landscape? Founder of shopping app Ubamarket discusses why stores must go beyond cleanliness guidelines and offer a more convenient, modern shopping experience to succeed

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday evening that all non-essential retailers will be able to reopen stores across England from 15th June, provided that they are able to maintain social distancing measures.

By June 15th, Britain will have endured almost three months in the absence of non-essential retail, with only a select few shops open during the coronavirus lockdown. Now, Britain’s retailers are set to make a much anticipated return, but whilst this represents an opportunity for ailing retailers to enjoy much-needed custom, the new retail landscape is vastly different from the one they left some months ago. With the Coronavirus having a considerable impact across every layer of society, how can retailers best ensure that their return is successful?

Will Broome, Founder and CEO of retail tech pioneers Ubamarket, is one industry expert who believes that the most successful stores will go beyond the government mandated cleanliness and hygiene guidelines, by adapting their operations and services to offer more convenient and modern shopping experiences:

“Despite the havoc that is being caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, I believe that the crisis is bringing into focus a number of pre-existing problems with the way in which we shop. Ever-changing store layouts, outdated queues and checkouts, and the lack of communication between retailers and their customers are just some of the issues that COVID-19 has made very clear. 

Now, the question facing retailers is not ‘when will things go back to normal’ but rather ‘how can we adapt our offering to make sure we are aligned with the changing trends and new retail landscape?’. Adhering to the new guidelines established by the government in terms of cleanliness, social distancing and hygiene measures is of course essential, but that is only one piece of the puzzle.

The implementation of retail technology holds the key to building the future of retail that supports our new shopping habits whilst also helping retailers to safeguard themselves against future cases of irregular consumer behaviour. After Coronavirus, the world won’t go back to how was - people will be more hygienic and convenience-conscious, and retailers will be looking for ways to adapt to the shift in consumer behaviour and protect themselves against future shortages.

Retail tech offers an all-encompassing solution; in Ubamarket’s case in the form of a simple app; which can put consumers in control, doing away with the need for time-consuming queues, unhygienic checkouts, and confusion about where products are and whether they are in stock. It remains to be seen how the sector will fare beyond Coronavirus, but retail technology is sure to play a significant role.”

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