How can the physical retail sector bounce back post-COVID?



Marks & Spencer is to continue their programme of store closures amidst plunging into a further £200m into debt, and a continued decline of clothing and homeware sales, which lurched by almost a third during the high street lockdowns. The impact of the pandemic has resulted in considerable damage for the physical retail sector in recent months, as shops were forced into prolonged periods of closure. While many high street brands have shuttered stores and triggered a wave of redundancies, the plight of the highstreet while need a little more than returning footfall to overturn the sorry state retail finds itself in.

Recent major retail takeovers have discounted the importance of physical stores - in their recent £275m buy-out of Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge from The Arcadia Group, fashion retail giant ASOS chose not to purchase the physical retail stores associated with said brands. Further to this, despite footfall rising 174% upon the reopening of non-essential retail in April, the pandemic has simply compounded the pre-exsiting woes of the industry. 2019 had already been the worst year on record for the highstreet, with sales falling for the first time in a quarter of a century, ensuring that total sales were at their lowest since 1995.

The need for retailers to radicalise their offering is perfectly apparent. One such way in doing so would be through the implementation of retail technology. The Scan, Pay, Go app Ubamarket has been on the front lines of innovation in the retail sector, helping supermarkets and convenience stores to revolutionise their operations by integrating with mobile technology. Ubamarket is currently being implemented by a list of retailers including Central England Co-Op, SPAR, Budgens and Londis, and this mobile technology could prove instrumental in helping physical retail outlets transform their service offering to compete in a post-COVID landscape.

Will Broome, Founder and CEO of retail-tech company Ubamarket, discusses how Britain’s high street retailers can enhance the shopping experience and usher in a new age of physical retail:

"As one of the most affected and integral institutions in society, it is essential that Britain’s retailers look to adapt to the new conditions to ensure they adapt to the challenges Covid throws their way. Retail technology offers an all-encompassing solution; in Ubamarket’s case in the form of a simple app; which can put consumers in control, doing away with the need for time-consuming queues, unhygienic checkouts, and confusion about where products are and whether they are in stock. By building lists off-site and checking stock before entering the store, retail technology can help reduce necessary queues before consumers travel to the outlet. It remains to be seen how the sector will fare beyond Coronavirus, but retail technology is sure to play a significant role.”

Ubamarket's mobile technology helps retailers to offer customers an incredible experience when they come to shop at their stores. Not only does our technology revitalise and revolutionise the process of shopping in-store for customers, but it also provides retailers with a much-ubamarket.comneeded method to get back on track and ensure they can thrive in the midst of a tough climate for the industry."

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