The drastic changes in the world have directly affected the retail industry. This crisis has brought a sharp contrast between different types of business activities in terms of business development. The consumer you used to attract a decade ago is not the same as of now and not even a customer who was a year ago. This reflects the changed behaviour of customers.
“Learning how to digitize, adapt and integrate online-offline behaviours to overcome physical world limitations are all lessons embodied by New Retail,” wrote Andrew Lipsman.
Omnichannel has been a bridge for online and offline sellers to move forward with no friction.
The omnichannel strategy has become significant for the retailers to sustain in the pandemic. In research conducted by BigCommerce and Retail drive in 2020, 46% of retailers said they would increase the investment in an omnichannel strategy. It is said that customers need better prices, varied selection, and convenience. All three can be meticulously met by the said strategy.
There is no doubt in the fact that a major percentage of people have shifted to online shopping. And figures from Q1 2021 show that the coronavirus is still making an impact on retail spending. Online sales increased 39% year over year in Q1 2021, nearly triple the 14% increase in Q1 2020, and faster than Q3 2020 and Q4 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed consumer habits, forcing food retailers to adapt quickly. Millions of families have started shopping online for pickup or home delivery, and many will continue to use e-commerce opportunities after the crisis.
The good news for retailers is that shoppers generally like buying groceries online. In the May 2020 survey, about 65.0% of online grocery buyers rated their buying experiences an eight or higher (on a 10-point scale). Only 16% gave these companies a six or below rating.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 48.7% of respondents said they had replaced products they regularly buy in brick-and-mortar stores with competitors’ online alternatives. A customer is more likely to abandon a physical company without an internet presence in favour of an online substitute if they do not feel loyal to the physical company.
Secondly, convenience plays a vital role in accelerating online business. The curbside pickup and drop off majors the satisfaction of customers. This practice enables the customers to be at ease and get whatever they want at their doorstep. This becomes difficult for brick-and-mortar systems to cope with. There are certain factors where brick-and-mortar is set aback but one can always lure its customers by providing a variety in-store.
64% of the consumers say they have avoided a store because of a bad experience they had within last year.
There are still customers who choose offline/in-store businesses for a better experience. Study shows that customers return to stores if they have a worthwhile painless, extraordinary experience.
The retailer needs to be ready for these changing shopper behaviours to keep going in the industry. This can be done by various strategies:
- Influencer Marketing
The influencer market used to be about selfies, pictures, videos but now the trend has shifted to marketing. They have now been approached by various marketers to promote their products.
Retailers can very well make use of this to advertise their products as social media marketing is increasing. With over 53% of the world’s population on social media, your business must have an effective social media strategy that helps you reach your intended audience. 1.3 million new users joined social media every day in 2020.
- Abiding by Ethics
71% of consumers prefer the purchase of brands that are aligned with their values, buyers are evaluating more and more products and trademarks based on the ethics and values of a company, with 41% of US consumers who actively try to buy a company associated with social, environmental and political ideals.
Covid-19 has limited the in-person experiences, avoiding face to face interactions. To meet the customers’ needs and complaints the retailers have embodied themselves with chatbots. This can be easily available to the customers and can help save a lot for the retailers as well. It is projected to save over $11 billion by 2023 by this industry.
For companies operating physically becomes important to engage customers uniquely that online stores do not. As we have talked about earlier the experience matters the most to customers. Immersive entertainment majorly attracts the audience.
The goal here is to bring maximum people in the store than maximum sales as engagement is the key. Take Nike’s Time Square flagship store, for example, which has a basketball court with cameras to record shots and treadmills with screens mimicking famous running routes. Though it’s not a huge sales driver, that’s not its purpose. It’s become a huge tourist attraction that boosts engagement and awareness.
- Self Checkouts
Retailers usually have a long queue for checkouts which make the customers grumpy. To avoid this bad experience retailers can introduce self-checkout corners in their stores. That makes buying unchallenging and uncomplicating.
- AR-Powered Shopping Experiences
Augmented reality (AR), machine learning, and AI (AI) are here to the rescue. In the 2019 Nielsen Global Survey, consumers ranked Augmented technologies and video games as the top technologies they hope to support in their daily lives. 51% of respondents expressed their willingness to use AR technology to evaluate products.
As a majority of customers rely on online businesses retailers can trust AR to narrow the gap between online and offline. AR-powered commerce isn’t just for mega-brands. The retailers with an online website can have their own Ar to help their customers for a finer and satisfactory result.
References: Bigcommerce, Forbes, Nielsen Global survey