Retail Redefined: How the Pandemic Shifted the Consumer Experience, Part 1
Local retailers serve a critical role in our lives, as places that feed and nurture us, supply our basic needs, and contribute to the local and national economy. I’m excited to kick off the first of a three-part interview series with my friend and mentor Jocelyn Mangan, CEO and founder of Him For Her, a social impact venture aimed at accelerating diversity on corporate boards. Jocelyn serves on the boards of directors of ChowNow and Papa John’s Pizza, spent 10 years as senior vice president of product management design at OpenTable, and knows a few things about the business.
Kashyap Deorah: 2020 was especially rough for brick-and-mortar retail. You’re on the boards of ChowNow, which works with small restaurants, and Papa John’s, a large pizza chain. Does the world look different for the small vs. large retailer?
Jocelyn Mangan: It’s less about small or large, and more about how people want to consume. No surprise, they want to order things online. They want products delivered, or available for takeout, or to do drive-through or pick-up. Those habits will live with us going forward. But people also want to go back into stores and restaurants to share meals and experience things in person.
Retailers of all sizes need to offer well-rounded experiences for in-person and on-demand. Those that didn’t do so before this crisis will need to build in that capacity going forward.
KD: So, 2020 happens and consumer behavior shifts to delivery and takeout. As a result, delivery apps consume a greater portion of retail and restaurant margins, while those businesses struggle to survive. How does this play out in 2021?
JM: The restaurant industry employs more people than the auto and airline industries combined. Do consumers really understand how important this industry is to our economy, and to our daily lives? Do they really understand how hard a business it is financially to maintain even in the best of times?
If consumers didn’t understand before, I believe they will moving forward. The pandemic, with all its logistical challenges, introduced a new operational transparency to consumers that didn’t exist before. How is that going to affect behavior? We’ll have to wait to find out.
Will consumers try to order direct from the retailer because they know it costs them less when that happens? That would be an ideal outcome because that’s better for the retailer, the consumer still gets what they need, and the pricing models are more favorable.
I do think other models will come out because this crisis has really forced us to think about our businesses in different ways: retailers and what they offer, who they partner with, and what's critical vs. not critical to their business.
KD: What are examples of, “this was the kind of retailer which ended up being more future-proof” or “this was the kind of retailer or setup that suffered the most?”
JM: Fine dining wasn’t built to travel, and we’ve seen it struggle. But we’ve also seen innovation. Look at what's happening with sites like Goldbelly, where you can order food from high-end restaurants to have it delivered anywhere in the United States.
We’ve also seen local and high-end restaurants offer do-it-at-home boxes and take-out cocktails, which isn't something we thought about before.
I think the retailers that were future-proof were those that had a big online takeout or delivery component to them — those fast-casual brands like Souvla and Sweetgreen, that have a great product and maybe had a small in-store footprint, but that wasn’t the only way to get their delicious food.
In part two, Jocelyn and I discuss balancing technology and authentic experience.
Kashyap Deorah is founder and CEO of HyperTrack, the live location cloud for deliveries, visits, and rides. Hundreds of retail, service, and e-commerce companies from every inhabited continent use HyperTrack to power operations efficiency, field productivity, customer experience, and financial payouts.
Related story: When Delivery Becomes the Store’s Business
Kashyap Deorah is founder and CEO of HyperTrack, the live location cloud for deliveries, visits, and rides. Hundreds of retail, service, and ecommerce companies from every inhabited continent use HyperTrack to power operations efficiency, field productivity, customer experience, and financial payouts. Deorah is a four-time founder who previously sold companies to OpenTable and Future Group. He is also a best-selling author and investor.