The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the resulting government measures – lockdowns, social distancing and enforced closures of shops and restaurants – are an existential threat to physical retail.
The figures speak for themselves. In Great Britain, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the monthly retail sales volume fell 5.1% in March, with clothing stores down 34.8%. Forrester predicts that global retail sales in 2020 will decline by an average of 9.6% , a loss of $2.1 trillion, with retailers taking four years to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Many retailers and brands, forced to think creatively, have responded in innovative ways. We are seeing new models for selling online emerging, collaboration between traditional competitors and unusual bedfellows and some remarkable success stories. The ONS figures show that non-store retailing increased 5.1% between February and March and online retailing grew 12.5% year-on-year in March.
In this Deep Dive series we will explore some of these models and how companies can apply them in their own businesses. Here we look at the digital storefront: how retailers can create their interface for selling to the customer.