Window Shopping in 2021
“Opening a shop is easy, the hard part is keeping it open”- so goes the Chinese proverb, and in these pandemic challenged times, never has it been more appropriate, with layer upon layer of government restrictions preventing retailers and other businesses from serving their customers in the way that they want to, and not being allowed to open being the ultimate restriction.
So how do retailers adapt and what becomes of the high street in these difficult times ?
First off, whilst the pandemic presents some very significant challenges to retailers, it has also opened up some opportunities for retailers to engage with customers in new ways. The step-change shift to digital that we’ve seen is one of them, with consumers around the world embracing digital commerce, and specifically using their mobile devices to do different types of ‘touch-free payments’ – whether these are for remote online transactions or in person commerce. Consumers increasingly love the convenience of ordering and paying online with their mobile, with the leading APM’s – like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Klarna and PayPal seeing record growth levels in 2020.
These tech driven trends are likely to continue, so successful retailers will be those that embrace them fully also, and look to use digital innovation to enhance the customer experience – both in-store (when that’s allowed) and remotely. What are we looking at here ?
Retailers without an online arm need one as a priority, and those that have both need to work them together better. There’s more to do in using the technology that we all carry around with us on an almost 24-7 basis - to keep us engaged with timely, relevant and tailored offers, as well as recognising and rewarding our purchasing activity, or simply saying “thank you”.
Telephone based ordering is an area that needs a complete revamp in my book. App based solutions in the F&B sector have increasingly got this nailed as far as takeaways are concerned, but there are many other types of businesses that could either use apps, or app clips or pay-by-link type solutions to provide more convenient and more secure ways of taking payment.
Touch free payments are a given for any retail establishment of course – with consumers understandably shunning both cash and chip & PIN transactions that possibly may carry some infection risk – but what about bringing the POS to the customer rather than getting them to stand in line - socially distanced as that may be ? With the mPOS and softPOS solutions now readily available in the market there are many ways to do this.
Finally what about shop windows – surely there’s an underused asset here? Harry Gordon Selfridge is credited with introducing the art of window displays to the UK in 1909, and certainly Selfridges’ window displays in Oxford Street remain part of the Christmas ‘must see’ attractions. But what of smaller establishments – how can they use their windows better ?
Taking the dog for a walk down my deserted local high street recently, I noticed a couple of “closed” but enterprising non-essential retailers that were looking to use their window displays to drive sales – one with key inventory items on display numbered for subsequent email ordering and purchase, the other with a “point and select” approach to go alongside its “click & collect” operation.
Both approaches were fairly basic, but with digital solutions like the JudoAccept QR code payments solution, you can imagine this type of “though the window” commerce becoming more commonplace.
So closing with another saying, possibly based on a Chinese proverb, that “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity” – this is certainly true as regards this pandemic, and I’m excited about the possibilities for retail to reinvent itself for the benefit of the consumer.
Jeremy Nicholds, CEO Judopay