NAR: How COVID-19 is Changing Public Marketplaces

Public marketplaces are changing their operations to the “new normal” of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which may have long-term implications for everything from commercial real estate lending to how purchasing decisions are made. While e-commerce is more important than ever, public marketplaces will likely continue to be important commercial and social hubs — they just might look slightly different.
What Does the Future Hold for Public Marketplaces Following the Pandemic?
Public marketplaces will remain staples of cities and towns in the post-pandemic world, but they might operate differently than they have in the past. Here are four ways COVID-19 is changing worldwide marketplaces.
1. There Is a Major Shift to E-Commerce.
Market and consumer data firm Statista estimates there will be 2.14 billion global buyers online by the end of 2021. There were only about 1.66 billion online shoppers in 2016. As consumers search for ways to shop safely, many are turning to online retailers rather than brick-and-mortar shopping for the first time. This may lead traditional retailers to increasingly embrace e-commerce opportunities.
2. Public Marketplace Retailers Provide Bank Teller-Like Shopping Experiences.
The customer experience plays a key role in the success of public marketplaces, and many marketplace retailers have been forced to adjust how they engage with consumers due to the pandemic.
While these retailers once prioritized face-to-face customer interactions, they must now follow social distancing guidelines to help combat the spread of COVID-19. What’s more, public marketplace retailers often require employees to work behind protective glass in the same way a bank teller would. This allows workers to remain safe and still engage with consumers in person. At the same time, it has changed the way retailers and consumers interact with one another. And the trend of bank teller-like shopping experiences at public marketplace appears likely to continue as well.
3. Self-Service Is Becoming a Top Option.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) checkout has been a popular option in grocery stores and retail outlets over the past few years. Today, many public marketplaces are leveraging DIY checkouts as self-service options.
DIY checkouts give consumers the flexibility to shop at their convenience and quickly and easily complete their transactions. As a result, DIY checkouts can bolster the consumer experience and drive customer loyalty and retention. Plus, they can help public marketplaces save money, since they can cut back on staff to handle customer transactions.
4. Safety Remains a Priority.
Public marketplaces will continue to prioritize safety both during the pandemic and after it ends. In addition to bank teller-like experiences and DIY checkouts, marketplaces may leverage door-mounted thermo-scanners to look for consumers with an above-average body temperature. They may limit access to only people who have been fully vaccinated, too.
Public Marketplaces Are Preparing for the Post-Pandemic World
COVID-19 has already changed the way public marketplaces operate and will continue to do so in the months and years to come. Marketplace retailers must remain vigilant in their efforts to keep customers safe and provide them with the products, services, and support they need. That way, these retailers are well-equipped to thrive now and in the future.
Source: National Association of Realtors