Utku Tansel, beyond being one of the nicest people I know, is also one of the smartest. Long experienced in researching and analyzing the consumer products industry, Utku has provided us with this look at the Covid-19 and its impact on the United Kingdom’s retail sector. His observations have value not only for those working in the U.K. but also in any country experiencing the impact that governmental preventative measures have on the health of the private sector economy. Below is Part 2 of Utku’s 4 part series:
By Utku Tansel LLB, MBA
Navigating the pandemic through innovation
There has been real innovation in retail that has started to shape the way consumers shop. Retailers are taking action by reimagining the customer experience, blending online and offline while the crisis encourages virtual innovation.
Online-only fashion retailer ASOS responded to the outbreak by leveraging the power of Augmented Reality (AR) further for clothes fitting service. In November, Ted Baker unleashed virtual shopping allowing online shoppers to connect with staff in real time. In September, Burberry hosted its fashion show on Twitch. Over the summer, Mango launched a virtual chatbot and Diesel introduced digital showroom Hyperoom.
In department stores, Debenhams unveiled a virtual beauty room in November offering one-to-one virtual consultation bookings with beauty brands Shiseido, Givenchy and Bare Minerals – in December, the retailer chain went into liquidation following the collapse of Arcadia Group, the owner of Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins. Earlier, John Lewis opened a virtual Christmas shop where customers can take a 3D tour of their Oxford Circus flagship store via their smartphone, tablet or computer while Liberty and Selfridges entered rental fashion.
In furniture retailing, IKEA started using Google Cloud AR technology enabling customers to take pictures of the rooms and place IKEA products virtually in them. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also being utilised to provide product recommendations.