Help for retailers: Tools to overcome the pandemic

3 minutes

Malik Cocherel

Covid-19 has had a major impact on consumers’ habits. In light of the turmoil, it became crucial for retailers to adopt new digital tools tailored to the new normal.

The pandemic changed the face of Quebec’s retail industry at lightning speed. It also accelerated the technological shift that some had already initiated prior to the crisis. This was the case for Montreal’s own Lightspeed, which offers retailers tools to help manage their business. They did not wait until COVID-19 was here to encourage retailers to adopt an omnichannel strategy to optimize their various distribution options.

Dax Dasilva

Filling the void between virtual and physical

“It was always our theory that a physical business should also have an online option and interact with customers on the web. But with the pandemic, bringing physical and digital together under one omnichannel model has now become crucial,”explains Dax Dasilva, CEO of Lightspeed. At the height of the crisis, he launched Mobile Tap, which can transform a simple iPad into a contactless mobile payment device to be used both in-store or on the road. This tool offers businesses greater flexibility while ensuring social distancing.

The new sanitary norms brought on by the pandemic have led the retail industry to turn to new technologies. At Montreal’s Eaton Centre, Ivanhoé Cambridge deployed a digital tool intended to help manage customers’ comings and goings in cases of high traffic, as was the case for Uniqlo’s grand opening.

Retailers can now virtually control lineups via an appointment with their customers set up by text. Customers can sign up online or scan a QR code with their phone. “It’s a very interesting tool in that it helps avoid waiting in line for hours on end,” says Johanne Marcotte, Vice-President of Operations for Ivanhoé Cambridge shopping malls in Quebec.

Another interesting technological advancement: Locketgo. It allows you to place an order online or by phone and pick it up at a smart locker near the metro.

A first in Canada

At the end of 2020, Montreal’s Eaton Centre also opened a pop-up shop with an entirely automated payment system—a first in Canada. Developed by Quebec start-up company Leav, this contactless shopping technology gives customers the chance to shop on their phone without having to go to the cash. “E-commerce won’t replace retail”, predicts Charles-Étienne Simard, President of Leav. “Rather, they will coexist, operating in a sort of symbiosis. It is therefore important to find ways to connect the two. Our technology helps bring the online shopping experience back to retail.”

“It’s the first concept of this type in all of Canada! We are very proud to be able to use it in one of our downtown properties,” says Marcotte with pride. “We are very strong on developing concepts at Ivanhoé Cambridge. Our downtown malls represent an interesting playground when it comes to testing, piloting, and innovating.”

Promote buying local

Technology canalso be used to promote shopping local, which is now key to helping relaunch the economy. Quebec’s FlipNpik platform has set up a social media account that allows users to share local shopping deals and favourites, and earn gift rewards in the form of exclusive offers.

The most active and influential users can even become ambassadors for a given business, which in turn can gain more visibility. Launched last May, FlipNpik expects to reach 100,000 users in Quebec by the end of 2021. This would make up a significant community that helps shine a light on local businesses in the currently very fragile ecosystem.