2020 started with mounting pressure on retailers as more UK consumers than ever embraced online shopping. But as rumours about famous retail brands struggling circulated, without doubt the biggest game changer has been Covid 19.
Officially labelled a pandemic on March 11, the UK Government announced the country would go into lockdown on March 23 following Northern Italy on March 8 and Spain on March 14.
The effect on UK retail has been very significant. The Office of National Statistics published figures showing monthly retail sales volume in March 2020 fell by 5.1%, the largest fall since the series began. April saw a further decline with monthly retail sales falling by 18%. The clothing sector suffered a decline of 50%, on top of the 34% that occurred in March. More significantly, clothing store sales declined sharply by almost 35%, compared to February. Debenhams, Warehouse, Oasis and Cath Kidston have also fallen into administration.
On the positive side, online sales as a proportion of all retailing reached a record high of 22.3% in March, as consumers switched to buying online. In April this rose to a record 30.7%, a huge and significant figure.
A changing retail landscape requires a digital and fulfilment strategy rethink
One of the most important questions being posed now is “What will the post-Covid shopping landscape look like”?
From our recent research, evidence suggests the decline of bricks and mortar retail will continue apace, particularly in the clothing sector. To survive, many brands will need to invigorate their digital and fulfilment strategies. Retailers will have to look at ways of improving their existing offerings and where volume permits, move aggressively towards automated warehouse solutions to cater for the demand that will only trend upwards.
Warehouse automation is not new, but it’s gathering pace and requires a disciplined approach from initial business case assessment through every stage to final implementation.
Operational Retail Project Support
At LiG, we help to optimise their existing operations, either through process improvement exercises or by advising them about the best way to match their requirements with the most appropriate 3PL provider.
Retail Automation – Solution Design
For organisations that require automation solutions, we have extensive experience of managing the design and development process for automated online fulfilment solutions. These may feature automated picking and sortation systems, auto-bagging and boxing solutions, plus robotics.
Retail Automation Solutions – Project Management and Delivery
With our experience in delivering successful change and implementation projects in the UK, we offer clients the ability to manage the delivery of complex automation engineering solutions, integrated with new IT systems and delivered in conjunction with staff teams.