We are experiencing an unprecedented disruption in consumer goods and retail sectors. Stores have closed or are significantly limiting the number of patrons, people are staying home, and global supply chains have disconnected and been overwhelmed. Companies must plan for the future while focusing on meeting present challenges. Consumer goods and retail organizations are facing new challenges, so let’s examine some retail technology trends in our new normal.
Once, the standard focus was location, location, location. But today, that’s shifted to data, data, and more data. Programmatic advertising is the new world of online advertising. With programmatic advertising, buying and selling advertising is automated—which makes transactions effective and efficient. This automation streamlines the process and consolidates digital advertising efforts in a single technology platform.
Increasingly, computers and algorithms are in control of every online ad you see, because ads are no longer always created and placed by people. In the moments it takes for a web page to load into your browser, the programmatic world has executed millions of computations. Because humans just cannot keep up, companies are willing to spend billions on the behind-the-scenes systems that personalize ads to generate revenue—because this system only earns revenue when a consumer clicks the ad.
If you’re a retailer, you will need a dramatic shift in your marketing approach during the next 6–12 months. If you aren’t a digital-native brand, your main challenges will be an urgent need for digital marketing skills and talents.
A huge digital trend in today’s uncertain times: many people are shifting to online shopping purely out of necessity to meet distancing requirements. This may be a first-time occasion for some—but many consumers have now realized they can do far more of their shopping online. This is how a once familiar behavior, going to the grocery store, can be upended.
Even once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, consumer behavior will not be instantly restored, so retailers should not expect this to happen. Shoppers will gradually return to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, but many consumers will continue to choose online shopping as a matter of convenience.
Consumers remember and value retailers and consumer goods companies who met their needs. During times like these, that tends to form a personal relationship that influences long-term loyalty and affinity. That means digital experiences matter more than ever, with many people quarantined in their homes and limiting the number of hours they spend going out. To build new and stronger customer relationships, companies will need to discover which ones matter most and improve them.
Companies must follow their customers during the pandemic, then prove they can lead them out of it. That means company leaders must prioritize important customer events such as late payments, cancellations, and moves to online service by removing delays in resolving these issues. And companies can form stronger bonds with their customers by gathering customer feedback and insights so they can test and implement new customer engagement strategies.
History has shown us that it takes time for society and businesses alike to settle into a new normal following a large-scale economic disruption. And even if the challenges we all face from COVID-19 resolve before the end of the year, which doesn’t seem likely, businesses of all types will need to remain flexible. It’s possible that it will take months or even years to recover.
For many companies, managing the digital transformation accelerated by this crisis will be a multifaceted charge, at times complicated by remote working arrangements and other challenges. Reimagining the business model will be at the center of creating a new normal. What will it mean in terms of operations, supply chain, and workforce? Answering that will be the key to the future of the retail and consumer goods industry.