How retail tech comms professionals can help avoid a nightmare before Christmas

You only have to walk down any high street to realise the full impact of the pandemic on the retail sector. Shuttered shops, reduced opening hours and fewer people treading the pavements illustrate how the COVID-19 lockdowns have dramatically changed the way that we shop.

This week a new report from the Local Data Company and PwC found that UK shop closures soared at a record rate in the first half of the year.

More than 11,000 chain stores (retailers with more than five outlets) closed their doors — with over twice as many net closures compared to the same period last year. Big brands including Dixons Carphone, Oasis and Warehouse are among those impacted.

The immediate outlook for the high street may appear bleak. The Welsh government is reintroducing a lockdown for two weeks for non-essential retailers – similar may happen in other regions as the rate of COVID-19 cases increases.

In comparison, retailers with a significant online presence continue to flourish. Online sales grew by 42% year-on-year in September, with multichannel retailers continuing to outperform online-only pure-plays as internet shopping becomes a day-to-day habit, new IMRG analysis suggests. Tesco, for example, saw its online business grow by 90% across the three months to the end of August, driving overall food sales up by 9%.

The continued rise of ecommerce has been a saving grace for many retailers. It has also reinforced the importance of tech in the retail sector. Not only have companies with a strong digital presence been able to thrive, but the reliance on online channels has in turn given a welcome boost to providers of other tech services including cloud and cybersecurity.

Furthermore, the digitisation of shopping is allowing retailers to explore numerous other ways in which technology – from augmented reality to predictive analytics and face recognition – can enhance the experience and attract more consumers.

So, as we head into what is the traditionally the busiest time of the year for the retail sector, now is the perfect time to focus on the potential for retail technology.

The next Babel webinar will examine how retailer tech comms teams can make the most of the festive period. A panel of industry experts will discuss the impact of COVID-19, which businesses have remained successful, and how retailers can maximise the impact their comms has in Q4.

Among the topics under discussion:

  • The role of retail tech PR and marketing professionals in revitalising the sector
  • How brands can stand out and make their voices heard
  • How retailers can tailor their communications to enhance personalisation and retain vital customer loyalty

Webinar registration is now open – sign-up now to hear the views (and ask questions) of our panellists:

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