Whether you’re an online, brick-and-mortar, or multichannel retailer, there is no denying your customers’ behavior has shifted since the outbreak of Covid-19. The physical stores will always be an important touch-point for customers’ shopping journey; however, the role of the physical store is evolving as consumers demands, priorities and needs continue to change and adapt to the new normal.
Here are 8 ways you can prepare your non-essential retail stores reopening for the post pandemic consumers’ demands:
In recent years, small businesses have been leading the way with meaningful 1:1 interaction, personalised messages, accurate recommendations, and targeted promotions. With the popularity of small businesses, the expectation for a personalised shopping experience has grown exponentially.
The bar is high! McKinsey’s data says, 36% of consumers have tried new brands during the pandemic and 73% of them hope to remain loyal to their new retailer. Therefore, connecting with your customers is more crucial than ever. Use your trained staff, as well as technology to gather customer information and create accurate customer profiles so you can delight them with tailored suggestions.
Pro Tip: use data to first understand customer behavior and trends to help you offer the right personalised products and services. Some insights you should be aware of are: most visited areas, products customers are engaging with, daily footfall, peak times and days, average time spent in-store, browser or buyer, queuing time etc.
Some examples of highly personalised service are:
1) Levi’s Tailor Shops creates a deeper connection with consumers by allowing them to be a part of the production process. Consumers can work with tailors to personalise their clothing in store.
2) Sabrina Herlory, Managing Director of MAC, saw 70% of customers going into stores after receiving advice remotely.
Rob Anson, CEO of Loop Insights says, “Leveraging data will be critical for retailers in the post-pandemic recovery. Retailers must measure and attribute customer value to create strategies that keep customers engaged, and increase revenue.”
Use real-time data to gather insights into your customers: understand traffic, in-store shopper flows, dwell analysis, queue analysis, and behavior in general to help you identify the role of your physical store on your customers’ shopping journey.
Data is king. To provide positive in-store shopping experience and seamless omnichannel experience, you will need a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and desires. This is where data becomes necessary.
Due to the pandemic, we are seeing regular changes in shopping behavior, ticket value and frequency of purchase from shoppers across different categories. With real time information on your customers, you can understand current customer behavior and also future changes. So, strategic decisions will no longer be guesswork.
This is a tough one to unravel since it is personal to your brand, though this is exactly the reason why you need it – an entertaining experiential store will further solidify your branding.
Knowledge on customers’ needs is most important when considering store experience; merge that with brand identity to create a unique experience and your customers will keep coming back for more. This formula works.
For example, Disney’s in store experience is nothing short of magical. The play areas and large screens not only increases footfall, but the time spent in the store, improving Disney’s chances of conversion. Disney’s consumers are enchanted by the experience making it a place where families want to spend time in on a Sunday afternoon.
Another great example, is Sephora. Consumers can try on makeup on their face and receive expert tutorials virtually with its augmented reality (AR) app. Such AR technology will help overcome Covid-19 safety fear and also inject fun in shopping. Furthermore, consumers are more willing to share data when they receive something in return. Therefore, this type of service helps add to your customer’s profile to be later used for targeted promotions and personalised experiences.
Adding an extra (perhaps free) service to your store will improve footfall and time spent in store. Simple.
But beyond that, you have an opportunity to create deeper connection with your customers. Once they have their foot in the door, let the experience aspect of your store do the selling (but keep your sales team on standby just in case).
Pro Tip: to improve customer loyalty, make sure the service you provide is in line with your brand ethos.
A good example is Lululemon, which has created a community with its complementary yoga classes. The comradery where they are all part of a niche movement is a genius way to maintain customer loyalty, as well as keeping their customers informed and excited about the company’s product offerings.
Retailers that offered click-and-collect service to current store location showed an increase of six percentage points and reached 80 per cent in 2020 compared to home-delivery. McKinsey’s data says, 56% of consumer say they will continue to use click-and-collect services post pandemic.
Curb side pickups also soared during the pandemic and Medallia Zingle says, 87% of consumers want curb side pickup to stay permanently.
This is good news for retailers since the BBC found that 35% of shoppers who pick up an online order in-store will buy something else as well. Customers visiting your store to collect an online order gives your brand another chance at interaction. if your store is set up to provide a great experience, you have an even higher chance to up-sell these multichannel buyers.
The Fintech Times found that one in five consumers have used contactless payments for the first time during the pandemic. It’s also predicted that much of the population will still feel nervous when UK stores reopen. Therefore, the speed and convenience of contactless payment options will continue to make it popular among consumers.
In store rewards are great in encouraging consumers to visit your stores. 56% of British consumers expect all retailers to offer rewards.
Pro Tip: make sure your rewards are genuinely a good offer.
“83% of Millennials find it important for the companies they buy from to align with their values”.
What are your customers concerned with: is it fair wages, toxic wastewater, women empowerment, or something else?
Given the customers’ trend of finding meaning on what they buy and the company behind it, can provide you with an organic way to appeal and connect with them through something deeper than the product or service you are selling, resulting in more lasting, profitable and strong relationships with customers.
You can use transparency as a weapon to connect, enhance and tie up your relationship with current customers and attract new ones that believe in what you are trying to achieve.
A “best in class” example is Adidas, which achieved a transparency score of 69% on the Fashion Transparency Index 2020 by providing information on its supply chain and commitments surrounding key issues such as living wages, gender inequality, sustainability etc. This positions Adidas as a pioneer of ethical change in fashion and in line with the values of 76% of London based consumers who look for sustainability in the products they purchase.
This roadmap to recovery will open doors to a new way of selling by helping you optimise activities, resources and systems that haven’t been touched or modified for a long time.
The next few years will be all about recovery through adaptation. If you fail to keep up with trends, you risk losing customer confidence at a time where it’s most important to gain customers confidence.
Future proof yourself with technology, provide the best in-store experience and align yourself with the values of your customers. Covid-19 has accelerated the gradual change in retail that we have been experiencing since the boom of e-commerce; and now it’s time for brick-and-mortar stores to evolve and adapt accordingly.