M&S have announced that consumers “may never shop the same way again”, as the British retail giant posted considerable losses in profits of over 20% in March, and a staggering 75% drop in clothing and homeware sales in the six weeks leading up to 9th May.
M&S also reported a drop in sales in their Simply Food stores, despite demand for food and essential goods amidst the lockdown. This has led the retailer to enter into a long term transformation plan, in an attempt to overhaul its operations and revitalise their offerings to consumers in a modern era of shopping.
The announcement from M&S comes as Britain’s retailers are beginning their preparations for a return to trading, as stores across the country may slowly be able to open their doors from June 1st.The retail industry is collectively facing a huge challenge, in their efforts to return to a retail landscape which has been drastically altered by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Will Broome, Founder of retail shopping app Ubamarket, says that the most successful stores will be those willing to overhaul their outdated models and operations, focusing on consumer experience and convenience:
“I believe that M&S have hit the nail on the head with today’s statement, as the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the retail landscape as we knew it. Consumers will never shop in the same way again, and Britain’s retailers are set to return to a market which is very different to the one they left some two months ago.
The key now for retailers is to maximise the efficiency, safety, and convenience of the shopping experience for their customers. In an environment where hygiene and speed are of the utmost concern, the biggest difficulty that retailers across the country will have to negotiate is the challenge of getting customers in and out of their stores safely and quickly, while offering solutions to old problems that have been highlighted by Coronavirus.
Observing the success of convenience stores and supermarkets will go great lengths to help retailers emerge from the lockdown, as these retailers have been open throughout the pandemic and have showcased considerable resolve and ability to adapt and quickly implement new measures.
Furthermore, a willingness to adopt tech-based solutions that dramatically increase speed, efficiency and convenience of the shopping experience will set apart successful retailers from the rest of the pack. Focusing on setting out clear and well maintained queuing processes, keeping simple and clear store layouts, communicating in-store using signage, and ensuring that checkout and payment is contactless and as fast as possible are some of the steps that retailers can take to improve the consumer experience.”