By Yan Claeyssen, Vice President of Sparkling Partners

The pandemic has been a terrible year for retail, although not all industries have been equally affected and some, few as DIY, have managed to benefit. The glass is half empty.On the other hand, the glass is half full because the profession has been transformed at an absolutely phenomenal rate. COVID 19 would undoubtedly win the award for the best digital transformation agent of all time.This forced transformation has been painful for many. It was necessary to set up click & collect and/or e-commerce systems very quickly, to reorganize and sometimes train teams, to rotate logistics flows, to make the most of email marketing and social networks to let customers know that these systems had been set up... And the list goes on.It was a very short term business necessity. For many, it was the only way to keep making money. For some, it was even a condition of survival.And now? The stores are reopening to everyone's delight. Customers are coming back to shop almost as before. However, we are obviously not going to go back to the way things were. E-commerce will remain a structuring sales channel and digital will remain an essential business lever. Certain reflexes acquired by consumers will continue. In the same way, on the retailer side, what has been learned is still there: digital is now better integrated into the whole value chain of the company.But the need to pay back the PGEs, to replenish cash flow and to make up for lost sales means that there is a risk for the future in the medium to long term: that of no longer investing, of saying that "now it's good", of no longer innovating and/or of taking a break from transformation.BUT NO! Exactly not. The most digitalized retailers, those who had invested and innovated, are the ones who came out of this episode as winners.The necessary race for turnover in the short term, and all the means that will be implemented to make up for the lost turnover, must in no way impact the investment necessary to continue, or even accelerate the transformation.The pandemic has shown how important innovation is. In retail, as elsewhere, it is by innovating that we can achieve sustainable growth and be more resilient to unforeseen events.Technologies have not finished surprising us and revolutionizing the way we sell and do business. We are only at the beginning. From virtual or augmented realities to blockchain, Iot and AI, innovations will multiply and continue to disrupt our habits.
By Yan Claeyssen, Vice President of Sparkling Partners

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