The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the retail industry hard. Stores were forced to close to reduce the spread of the virus, companies imposed massive layoffs, and some unfortunately were forced to go out of business entirely. With all that negativity, it’s hard to be optimistic, but there’s reason to be. Some experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will spark innovation across many industries, including retail. With that in mind, here are five things Women in Retail Leadership Circle members are looking forward to for the future of retail:

  1. Better Brick-and-mortar Experiences
    “How brick-and-mortar companies, specifically ready-to-wear clothing companies, shift their in-store experience from having a lot of inventory to a showroom feel. Although we see online businesses growing, there are customers that need to interact with the product, and categories that drive that.” — Leigha Gray Dunbar, director, category management, The Vitamin Shoppe
  2. Experiential Retail
    “Post-COVID-19, consumers will want to feel and experience great retail again. It’s called retail therapy for a reason!” — Amy Eshuys, vice president/general merchandise manager, Christmas Tree Shops
  3. Creative Solutions
    “I can’t wait to see what creative solutions retailers and brands come up with for consumer experience. The pivot that so many retailers made to virtual, curbside and delivery will pave the way for the future of how people engage and shop. Selfishly, I also want to see more “on demand” beauty services. The ultimate dream is working from home while getting a mani/pedi and my hair done at the same time. That would be a total game changer. What would I do with all that extra time?” — Jennifer Fisher, vice president of e-commerce, Americas and global digital brand commerce, Crocs
  4. Product Expansions
    “The expansion of casual footwear across the marketplace and the opportunity this presents for Sperry.” — Stephanie Wood, director of department stores and internet, Sperry 
  5. Digital Transformations
    “There was a big digital transformation prior to COVID-19, but even more so now. I love the bridge between digital and traditional. Shop online, pick up curbside for example. And I see some retailers doing virtual styling and then they ship you the items. In my industry, restaurants are being designed with a digital-first mentality, such as a drive-thru lane dedicated to mobile pick-ups.” — Stephanie Meltzer-Paul, senior vice president, digital marketing, Dunkin’ US