"A year of Covid-19 has dramatically accelerated the transformation of big-box stores into e-commerce warehouses, causing ripple effects for hourly workers and a struggling real estate sector.
"Shopping center mainstays Walmart Inc., Best Buy Co. and others are becoming fulfillment centers where workers assemble local deliveries and socially distanced consumers wait in parking spaces for their trunks to be filled. Space once devoted to t-shirts and TVs will now be used to pick and pack online orders or generate revenue by displaying ads for big brands like Samsung.
"There’s no going back because consumers have embraced the web like never before during the pandemic. Stores will be smaller and integrated with digital operations, or risk becoming irrelevant."
And now, Bloomberg writes, "as the pandemic recedes, spending will shift back to dining out, travel and other leisure experiences - putting more pressure on chains to keep making shopping easier to meet these new consumer expectations. This next phase of retail could be as agonizing for the industry as the initial boom in e-commerce more than a decade ago that wiped out lots of companies. Much like then, chains that don’t evolve quickly, or have the resources to do so, will struggle to survive."
You can read the entire story here.
- KC's View:
There is no question that the big guys have had the resources to adapt to the pandemic world to a degree that a lot of other companies have not been able and there's every reason to believe that many of them will be able to adapt to the after-times as well.
The challenge, it seems to me, will be remaining customer-centric in a way that does not put process first … it will be critically important to keep focusing relentlessly on ever-evolving customer desires and to stay connected to them in intimate ways.
"Fulfillment" ought to be the keyword - in all its permutations.