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How Will Retail Survive COVID-19?

FIT Home Campusㅣ2020-06-09 09:47

With her new column on, Shelley E. Kohan, associate professor of Fashion Business Management, has been a voice of wisdom and reason as the apparel industry struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic. Kohan, a retail consultant with three decades of industry experience, has been a vice president at companies like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Space NK. We asked her about her business predictions and FIT’s shift to remote learning for the spring semester.

How is the coronavirus changing the retail landscape?

E-commerce will probably grow at a higher trajectory than originally planned. And when things begin to feel normal again, consumers probably won’t step back to the behaviors of the past. Some shoppers were hesitant to buy groceries online. Now they’re doing it, and many will continue to do it.

How is technology helping right now?

The good news is that over the past couple of years, a lot of companies have spent time, energy, and resources getting their infrastructure up to speed so that they can seamlessly transact online. When stores closed, a lot of retailers were better positioned to keep some of their business running, though even successful online sales cannot make up for the drop in revenue from a fleet of stores. Many retailers, like Target, have done an incredible job with cross-channel commerce, such as curbside pickup or “buy online, pick up in store.”

I’ve also written a couple of articles for Forbes about current technologies in the industry that make the shopping experience easier. For example, Amazon developed the Just Walk Out technology for its cashier-less Amazon Go stores. Shoppers can scan an app as they enter a store, pick merchandise off the shelves, and leave the store without stopping to check out.


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