With non-essential retailers around the world re-opening their doors, there are finally glimmers of hope on the horizon of the retail landscape.

It’s also pretty clear now that queues will form a major part of the shopping experience for the next 6 months.

Queues to get into IKEA, for example, have felt as frustrating as their instructions for some shoppers, with one reportedly standing at over 5-miles long last week.

Some are clearly desperate to get back to the shops, while others – including over half of us here in the UK – are still feeling somewhat tentative.

One thing is for sure though: there’s a huge opportunity for brands to offer consumers the real, meaningful shopping experiences they’ve been longing for – as long as it’s safe to do so.

For the tentative consumer, online will still remain the safest way to shop: we’re likely to see offerings like Gucci Live – which lets consumers shop in a Gucci Boutique via a video assistant from the comfort of their homes – increase in ubiquity and popularity.

Gucci Live allows shoppers to explore a Gucci boutique from the comfort of their home.

But what will it take for brands to lure even the most concerned of consumers back in-store?

High-touch retail environments such as furniture and clothing stores will naturally need to innovate wisely: Men’s custom suit maker Suitsupply Co. are a great example of doing just that, having installed standing partitions in their stores.

Screens like these may be the best way for high-touch environments to safely reopen.

In terms of tech, this could be the time for motion controlled solutions to finally make their mark on mass retail (cue grown adults pretending they have ‘The Force’), while North American banks and retailers may finally embrace contactless payment methods, which have now been commonplace in Europe for over a decade.

A lot can (and will likely) change in the next few months.

But no matter the innovations we’ll see, one thing will need to remain at the heart of any brand or retailer’s strategy: relevance.

2020 has been crazy to say the least and it’s hard to say that tomorrow’s ‘interesting innovation’ won’t turn out to be next week’s “What on earth were they thinking?”

In our latest report – Beyond COVID-19 – we explore what we can learn about human behaviour from the first half of the year to inform brand decisions and strategy in the second half of 2020.

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