Retailers Accelerated Innovation in 2020

The pandemic forced retailers to institute changes and technologies that are likely to stick around.

December 28, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—How are retailers of all channels becoming more convenient? “There’s been all this acceleration and all this innovation, but what’s been interesting about it is that the people and the companies that were innovating weren’t thinking of it as innovation—they were thinking of it as survival,” said Kevin Coupe, content guy on MorningNewsBeat.com, during this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Convenience is King.”

The pandemic fueled demand for click and collect, which pushed some retailers off the fence to offer that service. “The problem with waiting for the demand is sometimes if you wait too long, … you find that when the demand is created, it’s the companies that got there first have created the value proposition that’s appealing to people,” he said. “Then you’re starting from a stopped position as opposed to having built of momentum.”

Coupe also pointed out that the pandemic isn’t over yet and that the vaccine won’t make it disappear as fast as everyone would like. “Retailers are going to have to do a good job of messaging… and communicating with their customers and telling them the story to point of saying ‘We know you’re tired of this, but we’re trying to follow best practices from the CDC, we’re trying to do the best thing, so by Labor Day [or whatever end date], no one has to wear a mask anymore,’” he said.

What will 2021 bring? Coupe predicts that e-commerce will continue, but that more people will return to the store. “People have learned that there’s things more easily … delivered or clicked and collected, … and they’ve learned there are a lot of items out there where it doesn’t make a difference” whether or not you go to a store for it, he said. “Retailers may be thinking of creating an environment where the physical plants are the things that differentiate us as opposed to the things that make us the same.”

He forecasts a new format called restaurant-markets that are restaurants offering a robust takeout business with a small market for meal kits, etc. “I think more convenience stores will get into … produce and deli and meat and seafood with some convenience-orientated [twist],” Coupe said, adding that “people’s desire to eat out will come back.”

For more predictions and trends listen to the podcast. Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than 200,000 times by listeners around the world.

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