How will lockdown reopening’s impact the retail industry?

There’s no denying that the speed, convenience and ease with which anyone can buy anything online has meant that during the Covid-19 pandemic, people up and down the country have been able to carry on.

From ordering the necessities for daily life to purchasing goods for the home to make living between the same four walls over the past year and a half more bearable. Yes, online shopping has provided a much-needed lifeline for most of us during the pandemic.

But as all non-essential retail stores are now back open, what does the future look like for the retail industry? Are we raring to return to bricks-and-mortar stores, to experience the feeling of stepping through the door of our favourite shops and to see the offerings of the season before we part with our money?

Or is the future of online shopping set to continue in popularity, rendering retail a strictly virtual experience from here on in?

A change in the environment

Now more than ever, recommerce is in demand. The last year and a half have demonstrated how quickly things can change, forcing our behaviours to change with them, and as the financial effects of the pandemic have taken their toll, more of us than ever have placed a greater focus and emphasis on sustainability.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an influx of visitors to the high street on the 17th May when non-essential shops reopened in the UK. But, statistics still revealed that the numbers of visitors on the first day of trading was down 34.2% compared to the same time last year, with 41.92% fewer people visiting the high streets.

So, what does this mean for the retail industry as a whole?

We’re now well and truly amidst “the new normal” with retailers beginning to find a way of navigating the current climate in a way that keeps both them and their customers safe. Ultimately though, how successful any retailer will be now depends on how they approach the new challenges before them, such as changed customer behaviours, dealing with excess overstock and returns whilst still offering a positive experience to the customer.

Adapting the shopping experience

Pre-pandemic, going to the shops was an experience in itself, whether or not you came away with anything at the end. From viewing the displays and chatting with the industry experts to trying items on and sampling goods before parting ways with your money, the allure of the high street was, arguably, little to do with the products themselves.

But, as lockdowns have come and gone, online retailers have quickly adapted, offering clear, concise support, easy to navigate experiences and speedy returns to make shopping online the new going out. Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers have faced more challenging hurdles, no longer being able to offer customers the beloved shopping experience they are accustomed to in order to ensure everyone’s safety at all times.

From mandatory mask-wearing to social distancing and a “no-try on” policy for clothing and fashion, the way we shop now is a far cry from what we’re used to, and it has changed the way we think about retail.

Improving your returns policy could be your key to success post-pandemic

The increase in online activity has meant that the demand for an easy and seamless returns process has become just as – if not more important than the product itself.

In fact, 89% of consumers now check a product’s returns policy before making an online purchase. So, if your retail returns management leaves a lot to be desired – you could be seriously harming the way customers view your brand.

The good news is, that there is still so much you can do to change how you handle overstock and returns, ensuring you’re financially better off whilst offering your customers a “new normal” experience they can enjoy once again. 

60% of shoppers say returns are a necessary part of online shopping 

A good returns policy has always been important, but during the pandemic, it has become a necessity, and although restrictions are lifting, the demand for easy returns hasn’t gone away. With our living rooms becoming the new fitting rooms and a huge 30% of shoppers admitting to over-ordering items in the knowledge that a percentage will later be returned – it has never been so critical to get your returns policy right.

Done wrong, overstocks can be crippling to any retailer, regardless of the industry you’re in and with recommerce on the rise, and a greater emphasis being placed on sustainable practices, now is the time to make those necessary changes if your business is going to remain relevant in the post-pandemic market.

Reduce waste and increase profits with ClearCycle

Whatever industry you’re in, at some point you’ll have dealt with overstock, but the unfortunate truth is that the pandemic has only meant surplus stock is more of a detriment to businesses of all kinds.

Whether its end of season items or an outdated line of products, storing excess produce is costly and can eventually see your bottom line depleted. But the good news is that with the right systems in place, you can make the most out of your overstock whilst you navigate new and uncertain waters – and that’s where ClearCycle comes in!

Of course, there are plenty of options for dealing with overstock that you can consider, but if you’re struggling and feel that you need the support of recommerce experts – our team can help.

We have worked with dozens of brands before and during the pandemic to ensure that the way they handle their overstock not only helps them to generate revenue but also ensures the customer has a positive experience. Sustainability is at the heart of how we operate, helping to ensure perfectly good items are reused and reloved by your customers – but there’s more.

We use our industry expertise to do the hard work for you, freeing your time up to focus on what you do best, and helping to dramatically reduce operational costs in the meantime.

Our in-depth market analysis allows us to ensure the exit channel you choose will provide the biggest yield for your business, whilst ensuring the process is sustainable for the long term. Ultimately, we offer an eco-conscious solution for receiving returns that prevents wastage, saves money, impresses your customers, and earns you revenue over time.

Sound good to you? Then why don’t you get in touch with our team to find out how we could help you manage your overstock post-pandemic.

Find out more about reCommerce and how it can benefit your business on the ClearCycle news and insights hub… 

A Guide to Reverse Logistics and How it Works | Inventory Liquidation Strategies Every Brand Should Know | How to Improve the Product Returns Strategy for Your Brand

Dan Hague ClearCycle

Dan Hague

30 June 2021

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