The Impact of COVID-19 on Brick and Mortar Retail

The Impact of COVID-19 on Brick and Mortar Retail

Consumers have been forced to shop online during stay-at-home mandates, even if they had not previously been much of an online shopper. Derek Thompson recently pointed out in The Atlantic, "Online shopping has gone from a regular habit for a minority of consumers to a crucial part of America's recreational infrastructure. One-third of Americans bought groceries online in April, and tens of millions of them did it for the first time."

Thompson notes that shopping’s share of total online retail sales has been increasing at approximately one percentage point per year, but a recent UBS analysis predicted that COVID-19 will immediately increase that share from 15% to 25% – in other words, a decade of change concentrated in several months.

As more consumers become increasingly comfortable with online purchasing, online experiences will need to be more robust. Showrooms should learn from the mistakes department stores have made. Iconic brands such as JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and others have declared bankruptcy. Their downfall is attributable in no small measure to their failure to respond to changing trends, modernize their stores, invest in their sales teams and adapt quickly to e-commerce and social media.

The physical experience of visiting a showroom has had to change due to COVID-19 concerns and requires proactive measures to ensure the safety of your teams and customers. Directional tape on the floor, plexiglass shields, masks, hand sanitizing stations and disinfecting protocols have become standard in showrooms, but those measures do little to elevate the customer experience.

One silver lining to this pandemic has been the shift to appointment-only shopping. A vast majority of Shareholders reported that limiting access to appointment-only meetings has dramatically increased conversions and eliminated tire kickers and price-only shoppers.

A primary reason homeowners will make an effort to visit your showrooms is to see, feel and experience finishes, door samples and vignettes first hand. Working displays enhance that experience. Cooking demos bring appliances and kitchens to life. Now is the time to take a critical look at displays and determine if updates are necessary. You also will be well served by updating your showroom to provide a more calming, imaginative or distinct feel to the space. There is not a better time than now to improve your website and digital presence.

BKBG has tools that can make your website more engaging and valuable. Our series of ebooks on cabinetry, countertops, budgeting, showroom expectations, lighting and more answer the questions prospects ask most often. We even customize them for you at no cost. If you are interested in using the materials on your website, email tcohn@buybkbg.com.

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