Make your store rock after the Corona Shock

Interview with Christoph Stelzer, Managing Director at DFROST

The first shock waves of the coronavirus pandemic are slowly subsiding and the global consequences of the containment measures and the associated impact on our social and economic life are becoming apparent. Governments around the world rushed to implement measures that would halt the spread of the virus. The same measures also forced their citizens to restrict their own ways of life severely and do without the habits and freedoms they had always taken for granted. Large parts of our personal and professional lives moved into our own four walls, where they remain to this day. Retail, hospitality, and nearly all segments of the consumer goods sector had to accept severe restrictions to their activities; brick-and-mortar business came to a standstill virtually overnight.

Christoph Stelzer expects the crisis to have a range of knock-on effects:

»All industries that have had government regulations imposed on them are now forced to rethink, modify and adapt their usual modus operandi. The pandemic seems to have boosted the digital transformation of a wide range of sectors and segments at a speed nobody would have thought possible before. Necessity is still the mother of invention. It challenges our creativity. We can see this especially clearly in the enormous speed at which work has become more flexible.

E-commerce has grown more widespread and versatile at an exponential rate, and the internet has become the main platform for all things consumerism.
It is remarkable how many small retailers have moved their operations online in a matter of days while developing their own delivery networks at the same time.
Many shops have grown their digital presence significantly. Having your own online shop is not even necessary for everyone: what matters is digital access to your clients in their own homes so that you can offer them options. 
Regardless of what we may all hope for, the consequences of the recent measures—be they imposed by the state or guided by common sense alone—will be with us for quite some time. The vast majority of the changes will become the ‘new normal’ for our society«



But what does this mean for retail marketing and its all-encompassing touchpoint, the POS? How are customers’ perceptions changing? What impact will this crisis have on the customer journey in future?

Mr Stelzer can offer first insights:

»One of the biggest drivers of this development is security and the need to feel safe. The physical distancing which the authorities are urging us to observe and its effects on social interaction are presenting new spatial challenges for retail that should reflect altered customer needs.

The increased need for cleanliness in both the clinical and aesthetic sense can be achieved by means of reduced merchandise density and spacious premises. In this case, a good overview and clarity convey not only a sense of high value, but also the feeling of »purity«. »State of the art« retail design will entail an overall look that is open and bright, combined with the corresponding materiality. The need for security however also means that, in future, customers will require greater orientation and reliable processes so that they can shop efficiently. This in turn will have an impact on merchandise presentation and product communication. Guidance is a welcome tool in this regard. Knowing one’s target groups inside out, across all segments, will become more important because maximum identification through precise inspiration generates maximum efficiency for a highly individualised customer. Experience and service with and within the community will become key factors in the purchase decision.

In future, the central question about the relevance of making a purchase will have to be answered better than ever before for many customers. Why this product, this brand and this sales channel? To stay in the race, brick-and-mortar retail needs to shine. Despite, or precisely because of COVID-19, retail must trump with all of its advantages and offer the maximum multisensory experience. What is absolutely crucial here is to think about both a clear profile and your community. You will create this relevance by exactly aligning your offering with these factors, by addressing your target group with authenticity and commitment, and by providing a precisely tailored service. Using momentum, and activating customers continuously at all touchpoints is going to be the recipe for survival.

And it is not just the customer journey that will have to evolve. Retail as a whole will become more fragmented, and new formats will establish themselves in response to changed consumer habits and the need for an ‘anti-viral society’. Neo-tribes will become increasingly important. More and more people will shop as part of a micro-community, and this elite shopping experience will emphasise the demand for regional produce and transparency. There will be new, hybrid retail formats, too, as the mega-trend will normalise the collaborative use of sales spaces. Co-working spaces, underused hotels and designer flats may double as shopping outlets on top of digital sales channels.

Things will doubtlessly continue to change and pose new challenges. But we are looking forward to adding our own touch to the ‘new normal’ and making shopping relevant and, above all, enjoyable again«



Let’s make it happen.

Boris Bihl

Head of New Business

T +49 711 664817-125

[email protected]