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The Next “New Normal” - the Changing Landscape of Retail

The Next “New Normal” - the Changing Landscape of Retail

about 2 months ago by Jonathan Cant

​Three years on from the challenging times of 2020, we are definitely settling into life after the pandemic (whether you choose to keep your mask on or not). Perhaps we have returned to something that could be termed “normal”, but what is this next new normal

In 2020, just as the pandemic was hitting, a McKinsey article described our progression through the global crisis as a 5-stage transition:

  • Resolve

  • Resilience

  • Return

  • Reimagination

  • Reform

After the resolve and resilience we needed through 2020-22, have we returned? Are we living a reimagined, reformed life in a totally different world or are we just back where we used to be? How are retail businesses reimagining and reforming their outlook on how to achieve commercial success, and what are the implications for their hiring strategies?

Talking to business leaders across industries it seems things will never be how they used to be. The challenge for businesses is to adapt to the new habits we have come to take for granted since 2020. A major topic of discussion, and one I would like to focus on, is that of the enormous change businesses have gone through with the transition to digital commerce. 

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A New Skillset

Discussing commercial processes with the CEO of a client in the consumer goods industry, the switch from in store to online consumer behavior has emphasized the importance for companies to be agile and to interweave the consumer experience between online and offline activity. Companies in the past 3 years have jumped up from online sales around 20% to 50% and more. With this we are seeing our clients crying out for talent with what could be termed an entirely new skillset. Digital marketers, ecommerce managers and directors, and omnichannel marketers. 

CRM is vitally important to companies as well, as they try to match their digital and in-person client journeys. In fact, Adobe found in a survey that ecommerce grew 77% during and since the pandemic and of course this brings with it a need for new talent in this new field. Just last week, a CEO was asking me and a colleague about omnichannel marketers - when you see your competitors looking for a position for over 7 months, you could be forgiven for wondering if those people actually exist. When omnichannel retail does work, however, as mentioned in a recent IBM blog, “your phone becomes your in-store guide”, and it can enrich and enhance your experience as a shopper. 

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The Value of IoT

We are seeing, as IoT becomes more relevant, that companies are using devices in their shops which track and map in-store consumer behavior to shape digital experiences. This opens up the opportunity for reward systems which don’t discriminate between online and offline behavior. Clients are truly out for candidates for digital marketing capabilities and with this shift, companies are desperate for people with a deep knowledge of tech, married up to commercial business knowledge. For more information on this, check out our latest FocusCore podcast featuring an insightful discussion withPascal Gerbert-Gaillard, the Country Manager ofSES-imagotag

These skillsets are in short supply, in this already candidate short market. It will be important to provide in depth training experiences to marketers throughout the business for them to grow and flourish in this new multichannel commercial world.

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Customers can help you sell

Leveraging customer engagement is all important part of the customer journey. An article published in May 2022 by Forbes stated that “shoppers have become the new salespeople” as ratings, reviews and other social media activity help to boost the exposure of brands and stores. Knowledge within your business of how to maximize this exposure can make or break your next campaign so finding the best talent with a solid skillset for digital marketing, PR and ecommerce is vital. 

Hybrid shopping is becoming more than just a fad, as the line between online and offline shopping becomes increasingly blurred. It felt very new 10 years ago to search online for my preferred pair of football boots and then try them on in the shop. Recent surveys, however, have found that hybrid retail is the preferred choice for a growing percentage - most recently IBM put the figure at 27% of all consumers - want to do their research online and then buy in the store for example. 

Understanding your customers’ changing shopping habits is a must in these post-pandemic times. Learning how to track and even predict these habits can be a game changer. If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve, building up your digital and ecommerce teams could be the next step and I’m looking forward to supporting this exciting phase of your corporate growth.