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Digitalization helps companies manage changes in demand, says GlobalData

Changes in demand, emerging consumption occasions, and changing shopping methods have been identified by leading data and Analytics Company GlobalData as three key aspects to which consumer companies and foodservice outlets have had to adapt due to COVID-19.

The company’s latest report, ‘Future of Work in Consumer – Thematic Research’, reveals that companies have been forced to deploy digitalization to manage demand for home deliveries and on-demand services.

George Henry, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, says: “COVID-19 has changed attitudes and priorities around the work-life balance. Orders to stay at home and socially distance have accelerated growth for e-commerce platforms, to the detriment of brick-and-mortar retail. In fact, online penetration accelerated from 10.3% of all retail sales in 2019 to 13.3% in 2020, according to GlobalData’s Retail Intelligence Center. Moving forward, retailers in the consumer space need to find innovative ways to address the shift to digital.”

DoorDash has experimented with autonomous robots, a prospect that may gain further traction due to demands for contactless deliveries even after the pandemic.  According to GlobalData’s 2018 Q4 global consumer survey, 47% of global consumers find online orders being delivered by automated devices somewhat or very appealing. This rose to 59% among millennial respondents.

Henry continues: “Appealing to young digital natives, which are likely the consumers driving structural adaptations in shopping habits, is key as this is the segment most receptive to long-term changes such as contactless drone delivery. Delivery robots are a prominent innovation due to bottlenecks caused by an excessive number of vehicles on busy urban streets. Automated delivery seeks to reduce these risks and helps companies save significantly on costs in its last-mile logistics – the most expensive link in the supply chain.”

The pandemic has also forced retailers to reassess their positioning, as well as the value of flagship stores in city centres. Prompted by the sharp drop in customer footfall, department store, John Lewis, announced a £400m investment effort to become a residential landlord. The brand now expects 40% of its total profit to come from activities outside of retail by 2030.

Henry added: “Plans to dramatically reduce floor space are a direct reaction to the drop in consumer footfall and uptake in online shopping. As economies begin to return to some degree of normality, offices will remain valuable locations for companies that have seen staff experience fatigue over home-based work. For other brands, COVID-19 has forced retail stores to reassess changes in consumer attitudes over the past year, and how best to optimize physical space in a world of increasing digitalization.”