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Digitally Transformed Businesses and Contactless Shopping are the Future

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Retailers of all types have been riding on an emotional roller coaster lately, but that’s nothing new: their businesses and models have been disrupted fairly regularly in the last century or so. It started when cities grew and spread and railroad networks appeared, leading to the emergence of the traditional city department store. Not long after these hit their stride, mass-produced automobiles and migration out of city centers led to shopping malls dotting the new suburban landscape threatening city department stores.

Shopping malls were in turn threatened by the arrival of discount chains and big box retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, and so on. As the landscape reshaped and reformed, shoppers’ expectations adapted and evolved and online retailing began. Eventually, this too morphed into what we now know as omnichannel retailing—a single seamless omnichannel customer experience with retailers interacting with their customers in-store, in-app, and online.

In 2020, catastrophe hit: the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crashed the economy and placed an overwhelming toll on jobs and businesses. And once again, retail businesses were disrupted and the landscape once again had to morph into something new and, as yet, largely undefined. Even so, contactless shopping, modern customer engagement technologies, and other digital transformation initiatives are all expected to be integral parts of this new landscape.