Editor’s note: Ruben Nazario is the vice president and innovation product lead on the Innovation Team at research firm PRS IN VIVO, Atlanta.  

The retail renaissance that began a couple of years ago with the rise of e-commerce and digital touchpoints has both accelerated and evolved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shopping has been completely redefined. Never have there been as many options for people to shop, and at the same time, the process of everyday shopping experience has been completely upended by the crisis. Some notable changes include:

Although some of these circumstances might seem temporary, it is tough to say whether the behavioral changes we are observing are durable. Sure, with many areas in the U.S. and Europe gradually reopening, people will once again go back to stores, but the transition is and will continue to be gradual, and physical retail will not look like it did before COVID-19 (at least in the short- and mid-term). What’s more, there is a possibility that as areas reopen, some might need to close again if cases spike – at the time of writing, this is the case in numerous U.S. states including Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas. Therefore, we are likely to see consumers resume some online shopping. This volatility requires brands and retailers that want to continue winning with shoppers to be adaptable, agile and alert to the signals of changes to determine if they are long-lasting.

The changes in shopping we are witnessing have some positive impact on retailers and shoppers. Many retailers have more avenues to drive sales and can enhance convenience. But loyalty can take a hit when a favored retailer is out of an essential (like toilet paper or pasta) and a competitor with an Instacart delivery service can fulfill the order. 

For shoppers, online shopping provides options and flexibility but can also create frustration. Nightm...