Is your retail business prepared for the second wave?

The number of daily infections is rising and business owners must start to ‘pandemic proof’ their business.

Retailers may already have prepared for a second wave of the virus by investing in an e-commerce strategy, which could become their business’ lifeline.

More than 3,700 businesses closed as a result of the first lockdown, with Primark losing an estimated £800 million due to its inability to sell online.

Despite this, 54% of existing retailers have not made any changes to their model in order to prepare for the second spike. Overall, just 42% are planning any further digital investment to better prepare their business for future spikes in the virus, according to retail magazine Internet Retailing.

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How to prepare your retail business for Covid-19 surge

1. Offer blended buying experiences

The ability to offer blended buying experiences such as click and collect services is vital to your retail business in future waves of the virus.

Firstly, click & collect is rapidly becoming a staple option for consumers, 65% of UK retailers already offer this service, and a further 25% plan on launching it before 2021. If your competitors are offering it, and your customers expect it, then you need to offer this service to remain competitive.

Secondly, with click and collect set to account for an estimated 13.9% of retail spend within the next two years – this should be a priority install for any retailer with a physical store. As stores operate with new distancing and safety measures in place, there will be a dramatic increase in larger retailers offering contactless consumerism.

2. Invest in dealing with increased demand for online shopping

Certain online stores saw major increases in direct online sales, with similar highs in demand post-lockdown.

While an increase in demand is fantastic, it does not come without its share of logistical difficulties. Earlier this year, B&Q had to temporarily close its online store because it simply could not process such volumes of demand. Boots also had customers waiting over an hour in a virtual queue of almost 150,000.

3. Improve your digital presence

During the first shutdown in March, in which most brick-and-mortar businesses were closing their stores and bracing for a possible indefinite period of closure, many brands were quickly pivoting to increased online sales. For those that were online, success followed suit.

Now that retailers have had time to prepare and observe the benefits of an online store, particularly as winter approaches, consumers will be more inclined to stay at home and order from the comfort of their sofas.

In order to survive future spikes of Covid-19, to maximise profit and opportunity, retailers need to be in the position to meet heightened demand with exceptional service.

That calls for a highly efficient online platform, such as Mercury Order, to support speed, convenience and perfectly merge both your online and offline store. Retailers must assess their digital infrastructure to ensure the entire retail operation is ready to meet the challenges of the second wave – and any more to follow.

To ensure the least disruption and the most positive outcomes for your business, staff and customers, implement and online ordering system today – failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.

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