With the holidays around the corner and consumers antsy to begin holiday shopping, providing a frictionless, safe and fulfilling shopping experience for customers is essential for retailers. In a recent survey from IBM, nearly 30% of U.S. consumers noted they are planning to visit a store before year end, but they expect to see new precautions in place, such as enforced social distancing. And while 28% of consumers have shopped online for curbside pickup during the pandemic, another 19% plan to continue shopping this way even after the pandemic is over – signifying a long-term trend.
As shoppers return to stores or continue with online purchases, they want a great experience – which includes avoiding the usual pains of holiday shopping, such as endless checkout lines or crowding at popular toy displays – for both safety and convenience. That’s why retailers need to take advantage of technology that improves the end-to-end customer experience, in person and online. And while retailers need to implement changes immediately to meet consumer expectations, the impact of COVID-19 will certainly alter their strategies in the long term as shopping habits transform. In fact, a recent study by IBM found 64% of executives will shift to more cloud-based businesses activities over the next two years showing the acceleration of technology adoption will continue even beyond the pandemic.
Even before COVID, 84% of consumers indicated they are looking for shopping experiences that allow them to easily find what they need and get in and out of the store quickly. Now is the time for retailers to leverage technologies such as inventory managers, spatial intelligence for floor layouts/planning, and artificial intelligence to help with consumer demand expectations and inventory prediction.
Across industries, companies need to remain agile and flexible in the wake of changes stemming from the pandemic. That’s why some of the world’s largest and most well-known brands, like Coca-Cola European Partners are turning to IBM to accelerate their hybrid cloud strategies and embracing new technologies. For retailers especially, adopting a strong, hybrid cloud strategy will allow them to adapt to greater market shifts and keep up with consumers.