In-store asia organized a Webinar for the first time on May 1, 2020, titled “The Shift in Brick-and-Mortar Retail and Innovations During Lockdown: Let’s Hear from the Fit-out Industry”. The session was moderated by Mr Shyam Sunder, Co-founder & Managing Director, Four Dimensions Retail Design (I) Pvt Ltd and the panel comprised senior professionals from various businesses of store fit-outs:
- Mr Ragesh Bhatia, Co-founder, Renam Retail,
- Mr Yogesh Joshi, Co-founder and Managing Director, Argo Lighting Pvt Ltd,
- Mr Sanjay Agarwal, Managing Director & Co-founder, Future Research Design Company and
- Mr Kishor Shah, CEO, M/S Details.
The panelists predicted certain behavioral changes that the retail businesses and fit-out industry may go through after the lockdown period and shed some light on what kind of innovations can see a boost through the new standards and demands during the pandemic.
Here are the key takeaways from the discussion:
New definition of experiential
Brick-and-mortar retail has been celebrated over e-commerce simply by offering the touch-and-feel privilege. With the virus crisis limiting close proximity of people, physical retail will have to shift its regular notion. What will be the expected norm in experiential retail? As agreed upon by all the speakers, safety and hygiene of public places will be a top priority. There will be introduction of sanitization booths, reduction of human interactions and ultra-cautious isolation movements that will take place in stores.
Stores with a new story
India’s retail landscape is driven by smaller stores and it will continue to be so. In fact, even smaller store layouts will be rolled out. We may also see a surge of stores in high street locations rather than the closed environment like malls etc. There will definitely be a change in design at basic touchpoints like doors, entry points, façades, cash counters etc.
We will see a lower number of shoppers but the shopping carts on the other hand will be fuller. In fact, there will be a high chance of all retailers embracing the sales of essential goods as part of their inventories. Restructuring of merchandises and smaller assortments will give comfort to the customers.
That will also mean the demand of smarter store fixtures and shopfitting solutions. How will these fixtures be different from the existing ones? There will be additional fixtures in the front of the stores, new design of fixtures that will ensure isolation, while individual booths will be introduced in the food and beverage sector.
With technology towards a new dawn
The rethinking of store layouts will definitely give ample opportunity to a vast range of technologies. Solutions like virtual fitting-rooms, a developed concept but with very few implementations, may now find a new high in businesses.
A similar upswing may be seen for solutions like automated checkouts, faster merchandise movement technology, automated sliding doors, engagement of social media platforms on the sales areas etc. Retail lighting businesses may find a new horizon in products like automated lighting solutions, UV solutions with embedded virus-killing technology and other plug-and-play fixtures.
Save costs, reduce timeframes
As prime business sessions are being jeopardized, the retail brands will now look forward to cost-cutting and faster timelines for execution. The measures will be executed with a more cautious approach as hygiene will play a pivotal role. On top of that, risk management will become a crucial part of all businesses. The vendor community is spending time in innovations that will ensure both value engineering and optimization of store efficiency.
People first, business later
Every brand is perceived by their customers in a certain way and that perception these days has to filter through the claim: “How does my brand protect me in these difficult times?” This is applicable not only for the brand-devotee relationship but is also pertinent for relationships between the staff, the employers, clients, vendors and everyone in between. While every business today is going through challenging times, stores will be here to stay. But everyone will take into account how they were treated during those times.
Author: Satarupa Chakraborty, Senior Manager PR, Messe Düsseldorf India