Where Will the Pandemic Take the Grocery and Retail Industry from Here?
Guest blog by MHI Member Company, National Cart Co.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an enormous impact on the grocery and retail industry. While some stores have shown incredible agility in keeping consumers supplied with goods and services, the emerging challenge for these stores is to prepare for business after the pandemic.
Many grocery and retail stores may see changes in the current store designs. Consumers could continue to shift and adapt to curbside pick-up, resulting in fewer in-store shoppers and eventually free up store space. Kiosks may be in your local grocery store. You could pick up groceries and stop at a Kiosk to renew your car tags from the DMV. These types of benefits will help stores enhance customer experience.
Dark stores could turn to permanent fixtures to serve consumers. Dark stores are traditional retail stores that have been converted to local fulfillment centers to provide faster deliveries and reduce the pressure on the main fulfillment hubs during the pandemic. They come in the form of grocery stores, clothing brands, or home goods retailers.
Backrooms could become bigger to help fulfill orders to be part of the fulfillment process. The store employees may transition from their current job, such as a stocker, to pick and pack associate in the backroom.
Curbside will continue to expand, and stores could build drive-thru pick-up depot and lockers and automated pick-up towers so shoppers can retrieve their orders.
Automation will grow in the grocery and retail space. Automation will help workers stay safe and increase efficiency to keep up with consumers’ high expectations. In addition to automation, stores are looking for ways to increase efficiency in their e-commerce program. As an example, many carts used for distribution and fulfillment departments can align nicely with automation.
Many brands discontinued low selling items to help keep up with the higher demand items. A discontinued item could lead to grocers and retailers reducing their brand offerings in a specific category, with only providing the top performers.
Consumers will continue to shop. Grocery and retail stores will get creative and even more agile due to the sudden shift. The pandemic will inspire more innovation and experimentation.