Challenges and Opportunities for the Retail Industry

After a tumultuous year, retailers with brick and mortar storefronts are thrilled with returning shoppers. Although some hail the pandemic as a once-in-a-lifetime event, it has long-lasting consequences. In short, lives changed, and with it, so did consumer behavior. It’s tempting to return to pre-pandemic norms, but first, retailers should take a moment to explore crucial learnings and insights. 

The changes pose challenges for store owners, yet opportunities exist. Moreover, those who rise to the occasion can connect with customers in new ways while uncovering the information needed to create seamless experiences. To this end, technologies offered by MapQuest for Business can help.

Challenges for the Retail Industry

Even before the pandemic, retailers were up against eCommerce giant Amazon and ever-increasing consumer expectations. However, lockdowns forced many shop owners to move their products online. At the same time, they experienced fading customer loyalty as consumers took advantage of the competitive eCommerce environment to find items.

An Increase in Shopping From Home

Shopping from home was rising before the pandemic, but it skyrocketed during 2020. Industry experts believe this shift is “sticky” and will remain highly important for convenience and safety reasons. According to McKinsey & Company, there’s been a 35% year-over-year increase “in online penetration based on credit card and debit card spend.” Attracting consumers to your store and supporting shop-at-home customers will be an ongoing challenge post-pandemic.

A Hyper-Competitive eCommerce Landscape

Almost overnight, brands popped up online, giving shoppers plenty of options to find what they were looking for. And shop they did, spending “$861.12 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up 44%” from 2019,” according to Digital Commerce 360.

But, it also made it more challenging for brick and mortar brands to stand out. Global eCommerce companies used data to select areas for targeted, localized marketing campaigns. In return, they were able to encroach on local business markets. 

A Loss of Brand Loyalty 

McKinsey & Company says about 75% of Americans altered “their shopping behavior since COVID-19.” 39% of those who changed their behavior also switched brands — doubling the level of brand switching compared to 2019. Although some consumers took advantage of a competitive marketplace to find the best deals, others were merely searching for their favorite out-of-stock products. Although “nine in 10 companies are making significant investments to improve their supply chain resilience,” retailers face barriers in rebuilding consumer trust. 

Opportunities in the Retail Industry

Almost every industry struggled during the pandemic. Yet, within the rubble, there are gems of opportunities for retailers. To meet goals, store owners should look at the challenges, collect data, and develop actionable insights. Incorporating MapQuest for Business location-based technologies helps retailers gather the geospatial data needed to solve pressing problems.  

Integrate and Embrace eCommerce

A short two years ago, “Only 13.6% of sales were made from online purchases,” whereas they’re “expected to reach 19.5% in 2021.” Shopify reports that the “45.8% increase in eCommerce market share” will continue on an upward trend. By tapping into the online marketplace, retailers can expand their shopper base and delight customers. Solutions include:

  • Continuing to offer contactless transactions
  • Enhancing self-service pre and post-sale options
  • Integrated “buy online pick up in-store” (BOPIS) services
  • Seamless mapping technologies shoppers can use to locate a nearby store
  • Expanding product images to support fully online purchases
  • Using automated chatbots to help customers making buying decisions

Optimize Your Pick-Up and Delivery Experiences

eMarketer says, “Click-and-collect sales more than doubled in 2020 and will sustain double-digit growth rates through 2024.” However, retailers must design excellent pick-up and delivery experiences to capture this market. Local delivery services can endear your shop to your community, while frictionless pick-up options end a sale on a high note. Moreover, navigation and routing technologies help retailers realize cost savings when adding extra services. 

Leverage Technology to Collect and Act on Customer Data

Let’s face it; you can’t improve what you can’t see. Consequently, retailers need data to understand how behavioral shifts affect in-store and online shopping. The right technologies help store owners efficiently route deliveries. But, tools like MapQuest for Business also provide data about points of interest, foot traffic, and much more. 

Retail stores use this data to find better fulfillment locations, assess new shop locations, and determine the success of proximity marketing efforts. Geocoding also supports personalized experiences via mobile phone notifications, allowing retailers to connect with potential customers at the right time and place.

Turn Retail Challenges Into Opportunities to Excel

Although there will always be challenges in retail, shop owners that explore the opportunities can turn obstacles into advantages. However, retailers can’t afford to sidestep the digital-first marketplace. Instead, use MapQuest for Business to modernize your operations and approach to customer experiences. Learn how to add location-based technology to your business by contacting the MapQuest for Business team.

MapQuest for Business

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