Henderson Engineers Retail Practice Director/Senior Vice President Jason Wollum offered his expertise on how COVID-19 has forever transformed the retail industry in a recent Floor Focus Magazine article. Wollum emphasized that all major changes in retail over the years have been driven by a consumer’s everchanging definition of convenience, and the current pandemic has inspired new changes in comfort for various clienteles.

“Over time, what people deem as convenient has changed,” Wollum said. “If we go back in history, the first retail was a bazaar or town square where street vendors gathered. Consumers saw it as convenient to go to those locations to shop. That morphed into malls, then, over time, it shifted to a single store where you could buy almost anything, form groceries to wiper blades to a pair of pants. That shifted to a prioritization of connection and great customer service, which is what people were deeming as convenient before COVID-19. COVID has accelerated and forever changed that.”

Wollum also pointed out that prior to the pandemic, grocery customers resisted ordering produce online, but there’s been a shift in that trend. Post-COVID, people may prefer to buy something packaged that has limited human contact along supply chains. He also highlighted the importance of warehouse and distribution facilities for clients.

“COVID will permanently change what we buy and how items are merchandized in the store,” he shared.

Wollum acknowledged the future vision and omnichannel approach of retailers.

“Connecting consistency across all communication methods — in person, social media, on the website — is what we refer to as an omnichannel presence,” he explained. “This is a huge buzzword in retail today. And the retailers who have been successful and will be successful after COVID really doubled down on that omnichannel presence and having the same customer experience whether you are in-store or visiting virtually, including the delivery methods that go along with that.”

Henderson knows retail. Since 2006, we’ve been named a top retail engineering firm by multiple leading industry publications. We’ve worked on all sizes and types of retail projects, including the world’s largest retailer — and we’ll let our work speak for itself. In 2020, Henderson repeated as the highest-ranked engineering firm on the VMSD Top Design Firms List.

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