Retailers are facing the most challenging operating landscape in decades – perhaps ever. Successful retail in lockdown 3.0 will require the flexibility to adapt quickly and effectively to changing conditions. How can your retail business leverage technology to achieve this flexibility, survive and thrive in 2021?
What a difference a week makes. On Christmas Eve 2020, retailers avoided potentially catastrophic supply chain disruptions as the UK reached a trade agreement with the EU. A week later, however, any cautious optimism was soon deflated as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another tough national lockdown to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside of food retail, 2020 really was an annus horribilis for the UK retail sector, as recorded sales were the worst in 25 years. And as lockdown 3.0 struck in 2021, things haven’t started a great deal better. But where there is a challenge, there is also opportunity to adapt and find new ways to succeed in 2021.
If your retail business is to survive and thrive in 2021, you’ll need to adapt to evolving operating conditions while competing with the retail juggernauts that continue to eat up more of the markets in which you operate. In this blog post, we’ll provide some practical tips on how you can do just that.
Retail in Lockdown 3.0: How to Adapt
Retail in lockdown 3.0 is certainly a challenge, but the intelligent adoption of cloud-based technology services will place your retail business in the best possible position to meet that challenge head on and come out on top. Let’s take a look at some of the key ways in which technology can support your retail business today.
Cloud Hosting for Ecommerce
Ecommerce is clearly a key channel for retail in lockdown 3.0, but many retailers have faced challenges around uptime and performance brought on by increased demand. Unfortunately, when your website is slow, it can be all too easy for consumers to go elsewhere for a better user experience. Nobody is impervious to this – even Amazon has suffered downtime issues in January 2021, along with Tesco and Sainsbury’s who have struggled to cope with the surge of lockdown 3.0-induced panic buying.
Cloud technology enables website infrastructures that can auto-scale based on demand, so you only pay for what you use – important cost savings in lockdown 3.0. Cloud platforms also enable performance monitoring that identifies performance issues so that they can be quickly rectified before they impact the user experience.
Take our ecommerce readiness quiz to learn the steps you can take to improve your ecommerce performance and resilience.
Cyber Security Focus
Retail, where customer experience and confidence are everything, has become one of the most targeted sectors for cyber-attacks in 2021. With complex cyber-attacks increasingly targeting the UK retail sector, the cyber threat to retail in lockdown 3.0 is clear.
Technology can help retailers mitigate the cyber risks they will face in 2021, but it does not provide a comprehensive solution in and of itself. Effective cyber security requires a combination of people, processes and systems. In order to enhance their cyber security, retailers will need to go on a cyber journey that runs from business strategy through to management, monitoring and continual optimisation.
Six Degrees’ Cyber Security Assessment is a great way for retailers to gain an understanding of the cyber threats they face and create a prioritised roadmap to address these threats.
Leveraging Data to Improve Customer Experience
Data is key to retail survival in lockdown 3.0. The effective use of data provides consumer insights that enable retailers to deliver personalised curated retail experiences. Importantly, it also delivers real-time insights and predictive analytics that enable retailers to act quickly to respond to operational issues such as stock and supply chain management.
The foundation for great consumer experiences in the retail world is the efficient collection, analysis and use of data. Simply collecting this data is not enough – retailers work across a number of systems, all of which gather data at different points throughout the buyer’s journey that must be integrated to provide true consumer insight and deliver personalised experiences.
Our Modern Data Platform service delivers the insights retailers need to optimise their ecommerce operations and set the foundations for ecommerce 3.0 and 4.0 innovations.
Communication and Collaboration
In order to overcome the challenges of retail in lockdown 3.0, your people will need access to communication and collaboration tools that allow them to respond rapidly to changing situations. Communication and collaboration technology allows you to reach firstline workers to ensure they feel in the loop and maintain morale, and it can empower customer service staff to deliver the same level of customer service remotely as they would be able to deliver in-person.
Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 deliver business benefits, enhancing productivity and delivering tangible return on investment. In our recent eBook we demonstrate how you can use Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 to evolve and enhance customer service delivery and operations during these challenging times.
Adapt to Survive and Thrive in 2021
In this blog post we’ve provided insights into how you can leverage technology to overcome the challenges your retail business will face in lockdown 3.0 and beyond.
At Six Degrees we believe that the intelligent application of secure cloud-led technology will enable your retail business to thrive even amidst challenging operating conditions, putting you in the best place to respond with agility to the Brexit, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasingly hostile digital landscape.
If you’d like to learn how technology can support your retail business, our Retail 2021: Trends and Insights eBook provides deeper insights into the trends we see shaping the retail sector in 2021. And when you’re ready, you can schedule a call with one of our experts.
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