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Retail sector must adapt to changing consumer habits due to COVID-19

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Changes in retail consumption habits were the focus of the Puerto Rico Retailers Association (ACDET, in Spanish) annual forum, entitled “The Next Generation of Retail, Are You Ready?”

Online sales, which have picked up in response to restrictive measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19, are forcing retailers to look at security tools and analyze global best practices to be ready to face the challenges that will prevail in the next generations of retail, the trade group said.

“As a result of the pandemic, online sales have increased by 35%, while physical stores have decreased their sales by 3% and more than 60% of consumers have used contactless options such as mobile applications, curbside pickup and even ordering food online,” said Lymaris Otero, executive director of ACDET.

“This requires merchants to implement systematic and technological changes at accelerated steps to stay in the market,” she said. “Our mission as a retail trade association is to provide the best resources to our members so that they can execute.”

During the event, Dan O’Connor, executive resident at Harvard Business School and recognized worldwide for the development of the retail generation model, offered a lecture in which he led the audience to see the changes in business models, talent and capital that companies Brands and retailers are rolling out globally.

He urged the audience to evaluate how to effectively implement them to stay competitive in this battle of the “brick and mortar” — which is the marketing strategy used by businesses that operate from a store or retail premises to increase foot traffic — vs. internet sales.

“Sales are fragmenting, so retail has to think differently. The generations of retail have evolved from e-commerce to marketplaces to social commerce and to be super app businesses,” he said.

“Retailers that aren’t capable of crossing that gap by 2025, to effectively integrate their offline business with their online business, will not survive,” O’Connor said.

This keynote was complemented with a presentation that addressed another pandemic: cybercrimes.

Héctor Guillermo Martínez, president of San Juan-based GM Sectec, said in his presentation that with the acceleration of the birth of online stores, companies that do not have secure and encrypted information systems are three times more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

“Five out of 10 payment transactions are contactless, with Puerto Rico being the region’s leader in this area,” said Martínez, noting how contactless commerce has exploded since March 2020, when general lockdowns were put in place to combat the virus.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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