It goes without saying that the coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on the way we shop, with a recent report revealing that one-quarter of the UK’s population plan to make a permanent switch to online shopping even after the pandemic has ended.
But despite this dramatic shift in the nation’s shopping habits, we’ve continued to embrace our philosophy of being partners in growth by helping our retailers to navigate this transition and adapt to the changing retail landscape.
With a second national lockdown forcing retailers to close their doors once again, we sat down with Andrew Barker, director of point of sale finance at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, to find out more about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the retail sector and how we’ve been supporting our partners throughout.
Andrew explains: “The retail sector has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and, as a result, the needs of our partners have changed too.
“The key to navigating an unprecedented crisis such as this one is flexibility, and both our partners and our retail finance team have had to adapt very quickly in response to this.
“While retail was naturally moving away from the high-street and towards e-commerce even before the pandemic, the coronavirus crisis has dramatically accelerated this process, and those retailers with strong online propositions have therefore fared reasonably well – and in some cases even thrived.
“With the majority of people shopping online, the customer experience is more important than ever, and over the past eight months we’ve been working hard to improve our proposition and overcome new challenges to make the customer journey an easier and slicker process.”
This seismic shift towards e-commerce is particularly pertinent as we head towards what is normally the busiest shopping period of the year, and with Black Friday due to take place in the midst of a national lockdown this year, Andrew and the team have been working hard to help retailers prepare.
Andrew says: “Despite the challenges this pandemic has thrown at us, we’ve held our nerve in terms of retaining our core proposition, and we made the decision early on not to make any changes to our pricing or the way we support our partners and their customers.
“Despite not being able to meet with retailers face to face, by continuing to talk to our partners on a daily basis we’ve been able to strengthen these existing relationships and provide them with reassurance as they navigate this period of uncertainty.“
As a result of this sustained commitment to being partners in growth, Andrew and his team have even been successful in securing an additional tranche of business with DFS who, with the support of our retail finance team, have weathered the storm well.
But with the COVID-19 crisis showing no signs of stopping anytime soon and the shockwaves of the pandemic expected to be felt for years to come, what’s next for our retail finance partners?
Andrew says: “What this pandemic has really shown us is that unless bricks and mortar players start to take e-commerce seriously, they may not be able to continue to survive.
“As our retailers embrace change, we must adapt too, and the big challenge for us over the next few years will be modifying our offering to best support our retailers and customers, while still maintaining our reputation as innovate leaders in our field.”
To find out more about how our tailored retail finance solutions can help you convert more sales and increase your average order value, click here.