Changes in demand, emerging consumption occasions, and changing shopping methods have been identified by GlobalData as three key aspects to which consumer companies and food service outlets have had to adapt due to Covid-19.

The company’s latest report, “Future of Work in Consumer – Thematic Research”, reveals that companies have been forced to deploy digitalisation to manage demand for home deliveries and on-demand services.

George Henry, consumer analyst at GlobalData, says: “Covid-19 has changed attitudes and priorities around the work-life balance. Orders to stay at home and socially distance have accelerated growth for e-commerce platforms, to the detriment of brick-and-mortar retail.

“In fact, online penetration accelerated from 10,3% of all retail sales in 2019 to 13,3% in 2020, according to GlobalData’s Retail Intelligence Centre. Moving forward, retailers in the consumer space need to find innovative ways to address the shift to digital.”

According to GlobalData’s 2018 Q4 global consumer survey, 47% of global consumers find online orders being delivered by automated devices somewhat or very appealing. This rose to 59% among millennial respondents.

“Appealing to young digital natives, which are likely the consumers driving structural adaptations in shopping habits, is key as this is the segment most receptive to long-term changes such as contactless drone delivery,” Henry says. “Delivery robots are a prominent innovation due to bottlenecks caused by an excessive number of vehicles on busy urban streets.

“Automated delivery seeks to reduce these risks and helps companies save significantly on costs in its last-mile logistics – the most expensive link in the supply chain.”

The pandemic has also forced retailers to reassess their positioning, as well as the value of flagship stores in city centres.

“Plans to dramatically reduce floor space are a direct reaction to the drop in consumer footfall and uptake in online shopping,” Henry points out. “As economies begin to return to some degree of normality, offices will remain valuable locations for companies that have seen staff experience fatigue over home-based work.

“For other brands, Covid-19 has forced retail stores to reassess changes in consumer attitudes over the past year, and how best to optimise physical space in a world of increasing digitalisation.”