Are we seeing a Dearth or a Death of Retail?

Blu Atwood
Feb 23, 2021

Does the pandemic foreshadow the death of retail? Not so much.

Despite the daily Chapter 11 headlines, the tide of humanity will continue to surge once the coronavirus is under control.

If anything the pandemic has brought into focus the staying power of retail. It will separate the strong from the weak, the well positioned from the stumbling, the innovative from the retrograde.

Retail will bounce back with a vengeance as listless, intrepid consumers come out of their walled compounds. In Japan and China, where Covid is under control, the movie Box Offices have seen record number of movie goers.

The experience economy is a real thing. Before the pandemic hit some retail stores and malls were declining, yet we watched as some savvy brands pushed “experience” marketing, creating social media worthy experiences, and consumers loved them for it.

However, the dearth of retail is a legit crisis.

How should companies survive the dearth we are currently experiencing? How can any retail brand improve their commercial positioning now and in the future?

To be successful now and in the future, retailers should try to learn from past mistakes, to wit the lack of action on innovation of the tech stack and marketing stack. Inertia is not going to propel retail brands forward, except for some niche categories of retail such as off price retail. As you see in this excellently written article in RetailDive, the dynamics in the off price retail world are the exception and not the rule.

Why off-price won’t change much, even after a pandemic

On the Contrary to this niche, the vast majority of retail brands need to figure out how to win in the digital space. Instead of playing the guessing game of what strategies will work and what strategies will misfire, the e-commerce strategist can find affordable, plug and play innovations that allow pilot programs.

Instead of seaking one new channel of revenue online, i.e the ecommerce website, retailers should be looking for several new channels of revenue online across the desktop, mobile and device mediums.

Retailers must innovate the shopping experience and how they engage the consumer. There are two key questions for that endeavor – WHERE are the consumers, and HOW should they be engaged.

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