Bricks and mortar: Stores are embedding the hyper-reactivity of the digital world into their physical infrastructures. We Are Locals, for example, creates one-stop e-commerce platforms for high street retailers, bringing local florists, grocers and bookshops into the virtual realm, while Virgil Abloh’s recently opened Off-White flagship store in Miami points to a future in which retail spaces will not be set in stone but will be able to providea malleable shopping experience.
Employment: During the health crisis, all eyes have been on retailers that failed to provide adequate support for employees and prioritised profits over people. A UK Benenden Health study shows that 38% of retail firms have seen an employee leave their company because their mental wellbeing wasn’t cared for. Retailers are also equipping staff with the tools they need to provide mental health support to others, such as skincare brand Dermalogica’s industry-wide EQ course.
Logistics: Although customers are shopping from home, convenience is more essential than ever. As such, third-party services are elevating, expediting and securing the delivery of online orders. In New York and Los Angeles, FAST AF aims to deliver items from select popular brands to shoppers in an average of 27 minutes, while Route is a visual package tracking service that allows shoppers to view and track multiple orders in real time.
Values: With the pandemic accelerating our awareness of issues such as domestic violence and racial inequality, the act of shopping with purpose is increasingly important for brands and shoppers. Former athlete Lanny Smith has launched sports apparel brand Actively Black to educate Los Angeles’ Black communities on health and wellbeing at a time when they need it most, while Boots has launched an initiative to aid domestic abuse victims at its UK pharmacies.
: For brands, demonstrate that you have considered the average lifestyle and routine of customers in the areas or neighbourhoods you want to target
: Continue to innovate at the intersection of physical and e-commerce, investing in last-mile commerce and digitising the high street
: Ensure that the health and safety of key workers is for life, not just for the pandemic, with sustained mental health incentives to retain the best talent
: As consumers shop with their sociopolitical values in mind, think about the inter-Covid social issues to which your brand has a responsibility to respond