Post-pandemic customer experience – what shoppers want
As the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel gets steadily brighter, retailers are approaching a day of reckoning while welcoming customers back into stores.
On the whole, business analysts are optimistic about a post-pandemic bounceback:
- GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index increased seven points March across all five of its key measures, with its Major Purchase Index increasing by eight points. Their Client Strategy Director commented: ‘Spring is in the air on the back of well-received Budget announcements, the successful vaccine roll-out and roadmaps in place for ending lockdown. It’s highly likely this upward trajectory on all measures will build over the next six months and beyond.’
- Ernst & Young reports that 48% of consumers globally believe post-vaccine life will be better than before the pandemic. According to Silvia Rindone, EY UK&I Retail Leader: 'As consumers look for a return to in-person engagement and the in-store shopping experience, retailers need to engage customers with store events and activities. They simply can’t underestimate the power of the store and the consumer desire to re-engage with the social aspect of shopping.'
- Euromonitor’s 'Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021' backs this up - along with increased interest in sustainability, social issues and post-pandemic changes to behaviour when it comes to safety, convenience and spending, shoppers will be looking for 'a hybrid of physical and virtual worlds where consumers can seamlessly live, work, shop and play both in person and online.'
Navigating the future
But, despite the generally positive outlook, it won’t all be plain sailing. It’s vitally important for retailers to recognise that post-pandemic customers won’t necessarily return to the shopping behaviours they favoured pre-covid – as the Ernst and Young report points out, they need to ‘redesign [their] business around how people live, not what consumers buy’.
In its ‘Connecting the dots’ consumer trends report for 2021, GlobalWebIndex highlights some key areas of concern for retailers:
- ‘More than lockdown blues’ – preserving mental health and wellbeing is a major motivator for customers
- ‘It’s a kindness magic’ – they’re more likely to shop with retailers that actively demonstrate kindness and empathy as part of the customer experience
- ‘A green awakening’ – similarly, they’re looking for evidence of ethical and sustainable sourcing and responsible business practices
- ‘The digital storefront’ – the pandemic proved to be the perfect incubator for tech-based transformation, and shoppers will expect developments in both online and offline experiences to provide both entertainment and a sense of community
While each customer will have their own individual motivators and characteristics, what they all have in common is a desire to build a two-way relationship with retailers – one that allows them to tap into store associates’ expertise and be part of a conversation that reflects their personal wants and needs.
Now more than ever, customer choice should be at the heart of every retail strategy – a good experience is centred around where they feel safe making purchases. Retailers’ strategies for the future must embrace the concept of customer- and clienteling-driven service delivery, from ensuring that store associates have all the tools they need to answer questions about sustainability and social responsibility to providing customers with the same high-quality experience wherever they choose to engage with it.
This article originally appeared in MyCustomer
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