As shoppers slowly head back to brick-and-mortar stores, new habits and new expectations for what true omnichannel is all about are taking centre stage. Retailers that survived a year of baptism by fire are gearing up for commerce in 2021 and beyond by altering physical store layouts, providing customer-centric convenience and reimagining experience centres.

During the pandemic, retailers had a chance to accelerate tech initiatives and experiment with new ways of serving customers. From pop-up shops to live streaming events to using stores as fulfilment centres, the barriers across physical and e-commerce blurred, and it became clear that the shift to digital was underway.

Flexible Omnichannel Fulfilment

In 2021, retailers must make omnichannel profitable and vastly improve the in-store order fulfilment experience. This will lead to reimagining the store front end to include dedicated areas with well-trained customer service reps, making it fast and convenient to pick up orders. For grocers, this might mean removing outdated POS terminals and building out new service areas right inside the door. Other retailers will expand drive-through areas for order collection, making it easy and contactless for customers.

Customer-Centric Convenience

The definition of convenience is constantly evolving. We’ve moved from “frictionless” scan-and-go experiences to “contactless” transactions designed to eliminate physical interactions with people or store-owned technology. As we shift back toward closer to normal, convenience will mean blending the ease of digital shopping with the superior service of in-store experiences and consideration for the safety and cleanliness of the physical space. And since it’s clear product returns are just as important to the overall customer experience as purchases, these processes must be reinvented to be easier and more accessible while managing costs.

Retailers will look to deploy a variety of new technologies, since every shopper has different preferences, and often these preferences vary by shopping occasion. This will include expanding mobile payment options and contactless checkouts, offering wayfinding and ship-to-home orders through QR codes or voice, and expanding the use of digital identities to streamline loyalty registration and age verification, manage risk and more.

Snippet from an article written by BlueYonder, April 2021