How COVID-19 Brought Us Closer to the Future of Retail – New Retail



There is no surprise that people are craving for human touch and physical experience more than ever after a year of social distance, quarantines, and Zoom conversations.

According to Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer, 25% of online shoppers think that buying online is less fulfilling than shopping in a physical store.

In this regard, it’s fair to say that the retail business that will succeed in the future, are those that deliver a different type of shopping experience as compared to what it was before COVID-19.

While the demand for in-person shopping will last, eCommerce, too,  isn’t going away anytime soon.

Intentional ‘Reopening’ Strategies

Vaccination is ramping up across the world. Governments are loosening COVID-19 related restrictions (‘Movement Control Order’ in the case of Malaysia), and people are eager to get back to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

According to Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, over 80% of Malaysia’s population are expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the first quarter of next year. In other words, Malaysians are expected to return to normal.

Retailers should use this opportunity to get ready, reflect, adjust, and implement deliberate “reopening” initiatives – even if they stay open during the pandemic – that show consumers and workers that they’re dedicated to providing a safe and engaging shopping experience.

This includes using purposeful messaging, launch of new products, online and offline store integration coupled with employee training to go above-and-beyond in providing service and personalised support, so customers feel valued and energised by the brand’s palpable delight in reconnecting in-person once more.

Tapping Into the Unique Advantages of Brick-and-Mortar

More and more people have shifted to online shopping since the pandemic. 60% of shoppers who changed their consumption or buying behaviour during the pandemic will continue with the same behaviour post-pandemic.

However, when the lockdown is over, many would still choose to shop in person. Why? This is because in-person shopping experience offers shoppers a feel and touch on the physical goods.

In this regard, Glossier had managed to address the concern even before the pandemic.

Glossier – Reinventing the future of in-person experiences


In 2016, Glossier launched its first physical retail store, allowing customers to try and buy goods that were previously sold online and take photos with the “Instagrammable” background.

Due to the pandemic, Glossier has shuttered its retail stores, but the company is currently working hard on reinventing the future of the in-person shopping experience for its customers.

Despite the fact that the Brick-and-Mortar retailing strategy has lost out, especially during the pandemic, the in-person buying experience is still important as it provides a sense of security for online shoppers before making a purchase decision.

A study showed that 56% of shoppers visit a store before making a purchase online.

Data-Driven Decision Making – Everything will be Digitalised

While data-driven strategies were implemented by most category leaders, the pandemic has prompted retailers to implement systems for gathering, analysing, and activating consumer data.

Brands shall be more deliberate in their marketing in the future, relying on data to identify where they should reach and connect with their customers. As a result, they will also have good knowledge of what they should promote in the future.


The integration of online and offline commerce, which provides store representatives (aka in-store salesmen) simple access to customer profiles, has become an essential strategy for the retail industry.

As a result, store representatives will be able to understand the preferences of each shopper at the storefront through the database that had previously recorded, such as demographic, recent purchase, preferred goods, and more.

They make use of digital signage, which allows stores to update messages on a local level. For example, JD Sports uses digital signage throughout to inform shoppers of the available fits and sizes. Shoppers can even customise their favourite shoe style on their tablet devices.

You can also expect more “phygital” experiences that blend digital and physical elements such as Nike’s in-store activation that simulates an outdoor expedition using guests’ mobile phones, AR and QR codes.

The Customer is the Channel

This pandemic created a huge change in the shopping preference and experience in the retail world. Customers become the main focus. There is an ongoing retailing pattern that we can see on Grab mart and Panda Store — curbside pickup and pick up in-store (BOPIS) options are here to stay because they’re safe, simple and convenient without a long wait.

Customers expect to move seamlessly from the online world to the physical store in the future. As a result, expect a sustained focus on integrated, multichannel strategy as well as greater readiness to pivot.

What is BOPIS in retail?

BOPIS is a business strategy that allows you to create a great blend of online shopping and physical store experiences, making the shopping process more convenient for everyone.

The Bottom Line

New Retail – The Early Bird Gets the Worms

The New Retail Era focuses on providing a seamless New Retail, a brand new marketing concept, will revolutionize the retail industry and give retailers the upper hand to attract customers amid and post-pandemic.  hopping experience by integrating offline and online stores. Amidst the pandemic, many customers prefer buying across multi-channels.

Retailers that saw the opportunity and were quick to adopt the “New Retail” concept are now enjoying the speedy growth as one of the pioneers.

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