Whatever the coming weeks and months have in store for us, it’s clear that the retail world is never going to be the same again. The fashion and beauty world is a clear example of how retailers are experiencing a huge change in consumer behaviour; Burberry is already reporting that in-store sales have fallen by 50%, and Next have warned of a significant sales drop this quarter, with boss Lord Wolfson saying “people do not buy a new outfit to stay at home.”

There could, however, be a silver lining for retail businesses.

The subscription ecommerce market has boomed in recent years and is forecast to be valued at £1 billion by 2021. Everything from meal kits to razors, shampoo to alcohol can now be delivered straight to your door, and its our prediction that these companies are likely to see sales skyrocket as households stay indoors.

The UK subscription market is dwarfed by our cousins in the US, but with over a quarter of UK consumers currently signed up to a subscription service, including over half of millennials, it’s clear that there’s a huge growth opportunity.

As the threat of coronavirus spreads and major shopping districts empty out, there’s a lesson in the subscription boom for bricks and mortar retailers. Already some big-name brands have got in on the action, with international beauty giant Sephora launching their own subscription box in the US.

Our advice to retailers is this: get creative. Whether it’s turning your sit-in bistro into a takeaway (the Government has already made it easier for pubs and restaurants to do this), turning your personal training offering into a virtual class, or creating a subscription box to deliver direct to your customers, we’re all going to have to think differently about how we do business.

Look at the furniture industry as an example of innovation. A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to buy big-ticket items like a sofa or bed online, but as retailers have stepped up their game and transformed their online offering, customers are more and more comfortable with the idea of decking out their homes at the click of a button. As a result, the furniture ecommerce market has boomed, with major retailers and smaller brands more effective than ever in marketing directly to consumers.

In this age of uncertainty, no-one can say for sure how our shopping habits will change. There are, however, opportunities to be had for the retailers willing to innovate. Customers still want to look good, feel good and eat well – perhaps even more so in this age of uncertainty. If your brand can offer an easy and convenient way for them to do so in the comfort of their own home, you could attract a larger and more loyal following than ever before.

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