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How the Coronavirus Has Changed the Retail Business

A lot of headlines these days have been on how the Coronavirus has negatively  affected the hospitality industry, particularly to restaurants and bars. But that is not the only industry negatively hit. The retail industry has also seen its own number of changes due to the pandemic. Some of which might be part of the new normal as the U.S. market crawls out the other side of the shutdown. Some of these changes could be here to stay across all retail businesses while others will only affect certain types of retail companies. Regardless, if you own a retail business consider how these changes may help your business. 

Cash may be king, but it’s also really dirty. During this pandemic no one wants to handle cash that has been passed around, increasing the likelihood of coming into contact with COVID. Sanitizing cash is quite expensive and not at all practical for small businesses. Many small businesses have already adopted the cashless mode and removed their cash drawers. Even when it comes to paying with a debit or credit card, small businesses have gone away from taking the card from the customer to swipe it. Instead they have installed a customer facing pin pad to have the customer make the payment. 

When in-person sales couldn’t take place, online sales could. This shift has pushed small retail businesses to look at and adopt ecommerce selling. This may mean building their own website or creating an e-shop on Ebay, Amazon, etc to sell their products. Now that retail businesses can reopen their doors, customers will still be wary to venture out. A hybrid ecommerce/in person business model will be needed, and possibly be the new norm, until the permanent effects of the pandemic are known. 

The rippling effects of the geopolitical landscape during this pandemic may affect the products you currently sell. With other countries taking economical hits and changes in shipping procedures there will be delays in the availability. This would mean reexamining your product line; removing hard to acquire products so you do not have constantly empty shelves. Along with availability issues, changes in customer buying habits will dictate what products you should be focused on. With more uncertainty and less spending money, customers are less likely to buy luxury items and unneeded accessories. So selling cheaper options would be more appealing than before. 

When it comes to apparel, the fitting room is a mainstay. But just like cash, the same article of clothing changing hands several times to be tried on by a number of people can spread the virus. It is an overwhelming challenge for a small boutique to sanitize the clothes and hangers after each fitting, so most have chosen to close their fitting rooms. Without being able to try anything on before buying, small business owners may need to relax their return policy or invest in a virtual fitting room setup. Whether investing in the virtual fitting room will be needed in the long run has yet to be determined.   

As always, we are here to help. Let us know if you have any questions.

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Total Merchant Supply is a POS dealer based in Charlotte, NC

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