Stores lead as Retail Insight Network lists the top five terms tweeted in retail tech in April 2020, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform. The top tweeted terms are the trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Stores – 890 mentions

Additional pay being awarded to frontline stores and supply chain staff, making available protective gear for staff, cautioning of the public to wear masks while visiting stores, and the re-opening of small stores and businesses were some of the popular topics discussed in April 2020. For example, an article shared by George MacDonald, executive editor of the Retail Week, tweeted that Marks & Spencer is awarding frontline stores and supply chain staff an additional 15% pay in recognition for their work during global coronavirus outbreak. Additionally, furloughed staff, voluntarily present were getting full pay.

Scott Galloway, professor of marketing, shared an article detailing the broadened use of face masks by the CDC as there was a high incidence of people infected but symptom-free. The influencer added that stores were now making it mandatory for people to wear masks while they stepped in for essentials.

In other news, Kavita Kumar, covering retail news at Star Tribune, tweeted on the Target store in St Louis Park getting sneeze guards up. However, none of the staff were seen wearing masks, stating the company had not provided them with any yet.

2. Ecommerce – 530 mentions

Prioritising medical supplies for healthcare workers, products seeing the highest sale during the global pandemic, and retailers facing significant logistics challenges, were some popular topics discussed in this month. According to Evan Kirstel, a top B2B influencer, retailers such as Amazon are prioritising medical supplies to healthcare workers. The retailer added a section only for hospitals and government organisations to provide medical supplies and N95 masks to fight the global pandemic.

Jason Goldberg, a chief commerce strategy officer, meanwhile, tweeted on the significant logistic challenges of being faced by retailers. The influencer further added that customers are now shifting away from Amazon, for instance, to get faster delivery promises for their non-essential orders. Retailers, in such a scenario, will stand to lose if they do not ramp up their sites to add features such as ‘when will I get it’, to overcome the logistics challenges.

In other news, Brian Solis, a global innovation evangelist, tweeted on ecommerce is on its way to becoming 30% of total retail sales. The Covid-19 pandemic, as a result, is thrusting ecommerce into the spotlight to becoming a digital business in the novel economy. Ecommerce has been on the rise, but has always lagged behind physical stores.

However, ecommerce in soaring in current times, with not just the younger and tech savvy but also older generations going online as digital shopping becomes the new normal.

3. Coronavirus – 283 mentions

The global coronavirus pandemic is forcing retailers to adopt novel ways to meet the growing consumer demands. Free membership deals to help independent retailers, DIY product hacks, store closures, and retailers re-visiting their online platforms, were popularly discussed topics in April 2020. Jason Del Rey, a senior correspondent at Recode, shared an article on the global health crisis forcing 250,000 stores to close in the US, but clearing the way for Amazon’s dominance.

Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData retail, further shared an article on the fashion retailer NEXT re-opening its website this month, following two weeks of being offline. The retailer was one of the few to shut down its online and offline businesses following the government’s lockdown orders. With careful planning, the retailer is including one-way systems and new walkways at its warehouses.

In other news, Evan Kirstel, the top technology influencer, discusses which products are being sold the most online during the pandemic. Essentials such as disposable gloves, bread machines, medicines, soups, and grains, rank the highest in the list of products seeing a surge in sales.

4. Artificial intelligence – 140 mentions

The application of AI in retail has become paramount in dealing with current social distancing norms, where retailers are struggling to maintain sanitised environments, meet the surge in demand for products, restock their shelves, and hire more employees to tackle the logistics issues, were popularly discussed during the month.

Trevor Sumner, the CEO of PERCH, retail engagement marketing platform that detects what products customers are touching or picking up, and responds with dynamic digital content, shared an article on retailers leveraging AI and AR for enhancing their in-store experiences. The technologies aim at creating greater engagement, shareable experiences, and brand loyalty, while at the same allowing the technologies to reap abundant data to maximise optimisation.

In other news, Evan Kirstel, the social media influencer, discusses how the global pandemic is forcing retailers to focus more on sanitisation, and dealing with the challenge of lack of staff. For example, San Diego-based AI company, Brain Corp, is working in partnership with major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as Tennant, Minuteman, ICE, Kärcher, Nilfisk and SoftBank Robotics, to build autonomous floor cleaning robots. These robots are being deployed across industries, including grocery, retail, airports, and more.

5. Sales – 126 mentions

Spike in sales for grocers, while non-food retailers likely to face zero income in the next few months, stockpiling leading to soaring sales for big retailers, and stores deemed essential reporting record sales during the global pandemic, were some of the popular topics discussed in the month. For example, Ashley Armstrong, a retail editor for the Times, shared an article on the rising tensions between non-food retailers facing tumbling sales as against spike in sales for grocers which topped an extra £1.9 billion in the past four weeks, according to industry figures.

Another huge retailer which experiences a spike in sales was Walmart, according to a tweet by Sarah Nassauer, a retail reporter at the Wall Street Journal. Walmart US’s sales jumped 20% in March. Sales at the retailer rose quickly, both in store and online, as worried shoppers rushed to stockpile water, masks, and food during the global crisis.

In other news, Courtney Reagan, a senior retail reporter at CNBC, tweeted on how Tractor Supply’s stores deemed ‘essential’, remained open and recorded a comparable sales up 12%.