We are all well aware of the global health crisis created by the coronavirus spreading from one country to the next and the fact that it affects not only our health and morale, but also the economy. As members of the retail industry, we’ve taken a closer look at how the situation is changing the field and what we can all learn from it as retailers. 

The supply-chain shift

China plays an important role in the global retail industry, with many verticals relying on its manpower and supply. In fact, 21.2% of all imported goods in the US come from China, with specific industries relying on the mainland a lot more. On a global scale and as evident in the graph below, many crucial industries depend on Chinese production and will therefore be impacted (if they are not already) by the crisis. While Chinese production resumed activity rather quickly, many retailers had to find alternative partnerships and supply chain flow for a certain period of time. Even after the current epidemic subsides, chances are that the retail production route will remain changed, as companies learn that depending too heavily on a single area can be bad for business.

The course of events

Events are a source of networking and inspiration for retailers, where we discover the next trends and latest innovations. With gatherings prohibited or at least considered risky all around the world, the retail industry, which very much relies on events and conferences, has to find new ways to form the right relationships. Both industry and customer-facing events have been rescheduled at best and completely cancelled at worst. This includes Shoptalk, a major Las Vegas event that was recently moved to September and many others. We are already beginning to see some events switching to virtual online conferences, and can expect a certain event boom as soon as things go back to normal.  

Remote technology is on the rise

With hundreds of thousands of people in quarantine and strong recommendations to avoid gatherings, many organizations and individuals embrace a remote state of mind and finally learn to use the technology solutions to support that. This includes solutions that allow companies to communicate with employees remotely, Online shopping channels (Macy’s is currently operating exclusively online), and the tools that allow customers to enjoy an online shopping experience that feels like the real deal and provides a real alternative and safety-net for the company. 3D, AR and VR technologies prove to customers that they can buy anything without leaving the comfort (and in this case safety) of their home, and let retailers know that an alternative shopping experience is a must. Innovation and operation teams are busy adapting to the new reality as quickly as possible, shifting production closer to customers and boosting the company's online capabilities. 

The current crisis is no joke and is affecting everyone in more ways than one. But it is also an opportunity for the retail industry to show how adaptive and resilient it really is, as well as embrace a few technology tools that will continue to come in handy long after the virus is gone. Businesses have learned that no one is immune and that a solid fallback plan is more than a nice-to-have. If your business relies on categories that normally demand a physical visit to the store, you simply cannot afford to ignore digital innovations that enable a different shopping experience. Not sure where to focus your efforts first? Read this next

From our community to yours: remain home, keep safe, stay healthy!

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