Retail business continuity challenges

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the retail sector. Consumers are making changes to their shopping habits, moving from in-store purchasing to online shopping, which is resulting in a surge in demand for safer, low or no contact purchasing options, offered through online shopping.

The shifts to online shopping aren’t solely down to the effects of Covid-19. Even before coronavirus, consumers were increasingly shifting from in-store shopping to browsing and buying online.

In the world before coronavirus, strategic decisions for retailers included whether to integrate new channels into the existing mix, managing consumers across channels and moving from a multichannel to an omnichannel environment.

Today, Covid-19 has created additional challenges for retailers and propelled many of these challenges forward. The Centre for Retail Research states ‘Total retail sales in the UK in 2020 will fall overall by -4.6% compared to 2019 (a reduction of £17,281bn).

The level of retail sales will not regain 2019 levels until 2022.’ Consumers around the world have changed their shopping mindset and patterns due to Covid-19. According to Internet Retailing, ‘Online shopping rates continue to surge, growing 129% week-on-week in the UK and Europe, and it is rapidly shifting customer expectations of what they get from e-commerce.’

So, what are the challenges that retailers should address to remain competitive and ensure business continuity in today’s world? Below are four key retail business continuity challenges:

Online shopping is putting pressure on traditional stores

Whether it’s groceries, clothing, furniture, or electronics, consumers of all ages have now been exposed to the benefits of online shopping. E-commerce is putting pressure on traditional physical stores that haven’t already developed an online presence to do so fast. Stores without an online presence will likely lose customers to competitors that can deliver online products and services to customers.

Sourcing and supply chain logistics must be managed

It’s not enough for retailers to simply enable customers to purchase online, retailers will need to be able to source locally and outside of their regions when applicable, and deliver the products as promised.

This means having a solid supply chain developed, the right types and number of delivery methods, and the people in place to deliver to customers on time.

Providing personalised, omnichannel experiences

Providing personalised omnichannel experiences across in-store, online, mobile, IoT, and social apps is now a must-have option to retain and attract new customers. Now, more than ever, retailers need to efficiently decipher customers and business data in real-time to deliver a personalised experience that engages shoppers and inspires them to buy across channels.

Need for an e-commerce platform

Competition in the retail industry has always been steep. Retailers that have not been able to leverage an e-commerce platform to optimise the customer experience and offer products and services through different channels are likely to lose business. Retailers need to invest in technology to seamlessly manage content, assets, promotions, inventory and pricing across channels, to improve the customer’s experience, no matter where they are buying.

To find out more about the exceptional challenges retailers face in today’s world, discover our new Dynamics 365 Commerce product guide. The guide provides a detailed list of the capabilities of Dynamics 365 Commerce and how it can be extended with other Microsoft products to bring intelligence and insight across all your channels.