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Retail’s Fate: the Major Challenges Facing the Sector in 2020

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Habaneras shopping centre, managed by MVGM.

A decade ago, the retail sector started the year with one main challenge: to evolve and adapt to the new digital society. Ten years later, that transformation remains one of the key challenges facing the sector, but it’s not the only one. In 2020, knowing the trends and being able to keep up-to-date with them is not enough to handle the accelerated changes that this white-water in which we have been sailing for years brings with it: the technological revolution. In order to stay afloat, we must establish a pace of work that allows us to advance, anticipate and, above all, be in control along the way.

Retail must continue to cope with this context of constant change, to regard it as an opportunity to help the sector to strengthen itself and improve results. We must clearly determine the main challenges we face, aware that innovation and adaptation to the technological landscape are being compounded by the transformation that the customer is currently experiencing as a consumer, and the importance of their shopping experience.

We are faced with increasingly demanding customers, a reality that has emerged as a direct result of the possibilities offered by the digital age, whereby, we can all access enormous amounts of information in a matter of seconds. Consumers can compare hundreds of services with one click. So, offering features that differentiate us from the rest is no longer an option, it’s an obligation if we want to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market. At MVGM, we believe that this differentiation depends on the personalisation of the services that we can offer our clients and the experiences that we generate for them each time they visit one of our centres.

This possibility of accessing information quickly, from anywhere and at any time, is a great help for companies in the sector since it allows us to better understand our competitors and the demands of our customers. However, it also represents an important challenge: knowing how to interpret it correctly and apply it to the experience we want to generate for our consumers is critical if we are to use it effectively as a strategic tool.

The third challenge facing us has been a familiar face over the last decade. Technology is continuing to advance and, therefore, is setting new challenges for us. The digital transformation we are witnessing has positioned e-commerce as the new market form par excellence. The online market offers us the possibility of being operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, allowing users to buy from wherever and whenever they want, ousting geographical barriers.

Therefore, the market needs to evolve towards a new concept of space, in which the online (digital) and the offline (physical) are increasingly integrated. Of course, physical stores are and will remain key places in the whole sales process, but they must be adapted to the needs of consumers. Thus, sales spaces will be transformed into showrooms, focused more on the consumer experience than on direct sales.

Adapting to this new environment is essential if we are to continue offering a satisfactory experience to our increasingly interconnected and technologically-sophisticated clients. To achieve this, we must respond to both their consumption habits and their browsing preferences.

All of this, with the customer always at the centre of everything. Today’s customers have limited brand loyalty. That is why we must offer them a service that meets all of their expectations: ease of payment, anytime, anywhere; a good returns policy; ease of access, amongst others.

Therefore, 2020 is going to be a year of transformation, learning and multiple challenges that we must turn into opportunities for the sector if we are to continue to grow successfully in the wonderful world of retail.

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