Revitalising SMEs: a practical pandemic tool kit unveiled

3 years ago

Will Broome, CEO of fintech retail app Ubamarket, provides a tool kit for retailers to adapt to a future designed by Coronavirus.

2020 was undoubtedly the largest, most damning upheaval on the UK’s business and service industries, with the impact of Coronavirus still sharply felt in 2021. The notable forced closure of the retail sector for prolonged periods of time in the spring and throughout winter has seen many retailers struggle and then collapse into the black hole of Coronavirus-induced decline. Businesses such as Bonmarché, Peacocks and Jaeger and most notably, high street giant, Arcadia Group, owner of Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins has fallen into administration placing thousands upon thousands of jobs at risk. 

Despite the collapse of retail over the past year, nimble and innovative SMEs have demonstrated how adaptation and evolution of business provisions have been essential to thrive in an ailing business landscape. White label retail tech app Ubamarket have transferred their Scan, Pay, Go! technology, already in use with existing partners SPAR, EuroSPAR, Warner Budgens and Central England Co-Op, and saw an opportunity to develop their technology to suit other industries. Within the space of a month, Ubamarket had gone from supermarket generalists, to FinTech specialists with expertise in retail and hospitality, through the creation of their new app NOMM (New Order, Magic Menu).

Having experienced wholesale changes over the course of the pandemic to survive, CEO of Ubamarket, Will Broome, has unveiled a practical pandemic tool kit to foster the revitalisation of the SMEs to help a plethora of industries:

1. Embrace change and pivot when necessary 

Whilst the stability of a large business may bring comfort in normal times, an SMEs ability to be agile in times of crisis is really what helps to drive pioneering innovation. While we could have easily seen the closure of retail as a daunting prospect, here at Ubamarket we looked forward and realised that when hospitality re-opened, there would be a palpable demand for technology that allowed guests to enjoy themselves while remaining safe. We saw that our pioneering technology that had been perfected in supermarkets could be transferred and adopted for hospitality. In the space of a month, we had lunched the most sophisticated remote-ordering app in the hospitality industry. I believe that this ability to pivot is synonymous with SMEs, and essential for innovating lifelines for a wide variety of sectors that will need support later this year.

2. Streamline and specialise the experience of your specified sector

With regards to retail, the in-store experience is designed to inspire, surprise, stimulate and delight your customers. The lift in lockdown this spring may be the catalyst to re-ignite shoppers’ desire to visit bricks and mortar stores. By implementing technology, it is much easier to plan and budget an in-store excursion, leaving your customers to navigate and enjoy the experience by eliminating queues and unhygienic aspects of waiting in line, touching screens, keypads and trolleys. Personalising their offers depending on their spending will also help to encourage customer loyalty, footfall and spending; this will ultimately help retailers to revitalise their offering. Decision makers across all sectors should be seriously considering how they can offer specialised services post-Covid.

3. Build a strong community

A community of retailers and customers will help you keep on top of the ever-evolving consumer climate. Technology is again an integral tool, as it allows you to access far more in-depth and accurate consumer data, helping to assess their behaviour, manage stock more efficiently and effectively, whilst being able to effectively communicate directly to the consumer base. A strong community of retailers and customers will allow you to modernise and improve your offerings to help you combat the challenges the pandemic is causing for the sector and spreading this knowledge among retailers may help in the revitalisation of the sector. 

Will Broome has also commented on the landscape of retail as a result of the pandemic:

“As one of the most affected and integral institutions in society, it is essential that Britain’s retailers look to adapt to the new conditions to ensure they adapt to the challenges Covid throws their way. Retail technology offers an all-encompassing solution; in Ubamarket’s case in the form of a simple app; which can put consumers in control, doing away with the need for time-consuming queues, unhygienic checkouts, and confusion about where products are and whether they are in stock. By building lists off-site and checking stock before entering the store, retail technology can help reduce necessary queues before consumers travel to the outlet. It remains to be seen how the sector will fare beyond Coronavirus, but retail technology is sure to play a significant role.”

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