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


Will Broome, CEO of leading retail tech company Ubamarket discusses how retailers can transform to assure their survival in the post-Coronavirus climate

The impact of the pandemic has resulted in considerable damage for the physical retail sector in recent months, as shops have been forced to remain closed.

Many high street brands have shuttered stores and triggered a wave of redundancies, whilst 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. 

On the face of it, such a move away from physical retail would suggest that the pandemic has represented the beginning of the end for in-store shopping. However, according to recent research carried out by Ubamarket, over 21 million (50%) of British consumers reported that going to the shops or supermarkets in lockdown has been instrumental in combating the isolation and loneliness of the pandemic.

This suggests that there will likely be a considerable demand for in-store shopping when the Coronavirus lockdowns are eased in the UK, and the need to attract customers to the high street is vital for economic growth. But as our society has adapted to cope with the Coronavirus, so too must the physical retail sector. As a result, it is imperative that retail business leaders look to revitalise the in-store shopping experience to offer a more streamlined, safer and effective way to shop. 

Will Broome, founder and CEO of retail-tech company Ubamarket, has been on the front lines of innovation in the retail sector, helping companies to revolutionise their operations by integrating with mobile technology. Ubamarket is currently being implemented by a list of retailers in the supermarket and grocery sectors, 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. 

In light of this, Broome 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-needed method to get back on track and ensure they can thrive in the midst of a tough climate for the industry.”