If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic taught the retail world, it was to expect the unexpected. Although the shuttering of stores across the globe presented a daunting challenge, an opportunity arose in the forms of digital shopping and the omnichannel. Digital shopping – along with curbside pickup -- surged during the pandemic, outpacing even the most liberal expectations as people opted for safer, more secure purchasing options.
For retailers, however, the pivot to digital shopping and omnichannel hasn’t been seamless. Online shopping isn’t quite as profitable as in-store, and a focus the omnichannel can come with additional expenses for store owners and increased responsibilities for employees.
The challenge and question laid before retail moving forward into the post-Covid world becomes quite clear – how do you continue to raise the profitability of the omnichannel while enticing customers to return to store?
State of the Retail Industry
As the retail industry begins to open back up, they are finding that the pace of projects is rebounding as expected, although with added pressure on margins. This has been caused primarily by three things:
1. Return to Store
Customers are beginning to shop in-store again, a process driven mainly by the rapid vaccine rollout. Customers are feeling more confident – and most importantly, safer – in their return to brick-and-mortar stores.
This is not to say we’re entirely in the clear. The return to store is reliant on the continued vaccine rollout, maintained control of variants, and locally loosening government restrictions. As long as these proceed as planned, the future looks bright for the retail industry.
Retail sales rose nearly 10% in March, a number that will only grow as comfortability continues to increase.
Expectations for frictionless omnichannel experience have skyrocketed. The pandemic has sped up most retailers’ timelines for this offering, leaving many scrambling to accommodate this increase in demand.
This is a potentially expensive proposition for any organization. Although the omnichannel experience is easier for the customer, it adds further levels of responsibility to the organization. This is especially true for retailers who have not yet begun the omnichannel process, as they are only falling further behind every day they do not commit to the process.
3. Shipping Expenses
Shipping is expensive for any retail organization. In the past, online shopping served as a supplement to the in-store option, giving companies greater leeway when it came to shopping.
That is no longer the case. With processes such as the omnichannel and “Buy Online Pick-up Instore” (BOPIS), organizations must learn to combine the online and in-store experience into a seamless one or risk losing out on potential business.
That is not to say that it is all doom and gloom, however. Profit margins are significantly higher with BOPIS than direct shipping since the customer absorbs the cost of the last mile. There is also a greater likelihood of customers buying additional items once inside. When it comes to returns, being available and having convenient locations is also critical.
Customers want convenience. It is often as simple as that.
Managing Retail Capital Projects
With shifting to omnichannel more quickly than expected, pressure is on organizations to finish capital projects as quickly as possible. Combined with tighter profit margins, retailers are looking for new ways to cut costs.
When it comes to project management, retailers are looking to:
- Reduce unnecessary costs
- Complete projects as quickly as possible
- Ensure projects meet brand objectives and satisfy customers
- Enable teams to maintain social distance
- Enable teams to connect and communicate now that project teams are remote effectively.
What is preventing retailers from completing these goals? There is a growing friction between web applications and their mobile experience for many organizations, causing significant inefficiencies and slowing down work.
Their software issues include:
- Inability to upload documents immediately
- Lack of daily image uploading
- Regular GC stand up on-site with contractors & PM
- Incapability review and update milestones and tasks
- Poor communication between office and field
By pivoting to a project management software solution, organizations can take the first step to keeping up with the industry's rapid changes. Accruent's Lx Projects is a software solution designed to enable retail teams to streamline project management needs in order to complete projects on time and under budget.
Lx Projects allows organizations to:
- Monitor progress and accurately forecast openings with a single view across the project portfolio.
- Manage cost and resources with visibility into budgets at the line-item level.
- Share project schedules and phases both internally and externally.
- Create processes and templates that are repeatable and consistent.
- Control multiple projects with workflows, automatic notifications and customizable reports.
- Enable teams in the field, keeping them safe and in compliance with social distancing.
The Next Step for Retail Organizations
Change can happen in an instant and is one of the few constants in the retail industry. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to simmer down and stores open up, retail organizations must be able to take the lessons of the last year and put them into practice, or they risk quickly falling behind their competitors.
With Lx Projects, retailers are better equipped to adapt to the modern shopping experience, whether in-store or omnichannel, with a consolidated, connected system devoted to project management.
Interested in learning more about Lx Projects? Check out our solutions page for further information.