A GUIDE TO CONSUMERS IN RETAIL DURING COVID
A GUIDE TO Consumers in retail during covid
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In the past few months, retail has been hit by the effects of COVID, causing new consumer trends to rise. As thoughts about another round of shutdowns linger in consumers’ minds, 42% of consumers in a survey recently done believe that their shopping habits will fundamentally change as a result of COVID. Because of this, retail is experiencing a rapid acceleration of trends. Retailers must take a fresh look at the new landscape through consumers’ eyes to stay top of mind. We’ve compiled results from over ten studies done on the thoughts of consumers with COVID to give retailers actionable insights to help rapidly adapt to the modified normal.
Consumer Trend #1: Store & Product Safety
When consumers are deciding where to shop, it should come as no surprise that they are prioritizing cleaning and sanitization and are looking for the usage of masks and barriers.
In-Store Shopping Safety
Consumers are not taking this concern lightly either with a reported 51% of consumers preferring to buy from retailers that have quickly reorganized their store layouts in light of the pandemic. This trend does not plan to go away, with research showing that 77% of consumers will be more cautious about cleanliness, health, and safety post-pandemic.
Safety doesn’t end at the in-store interactions. Consumers also prioritize the safety of the products they purchase, with 62% saying they will switch to brands that show higher levels of product safety.
One notable trend within product safety is the origin and details of the product. 54% of consumers responded to this survey stating they preferred to purchase local items over imports due to safety concerns about the use of foreign products. This survey also reinforced this concept, with more than half of consumers expecting detailed product information to be readily available to them now and in the future.
What This Means
Brand awareness will not carry retailers very far along through the COVID-crisis and beyond. Consumers' willingness to depart from well-known brands has increased, with less than 40% of all demographic groups planning to stay with the brands they trust. Retailers with stellar safety protocols can steal the sale during this time.
What You Can Do
If you are a well-known retailer, communicate about your safety measures. Now is not the time to hold back. Use your platform to make consumers feel secure and safe when shopping in your stores. Don’t just say “we are open” and expect full restoration of foot traffic.
Smaller brands can level up by using their ability for quick turnarounds to communicate their store safety. Capitalize by making these modifications to the processes and product labels quickly to help consumers feel safer than ever and grab the traffic of leary consumers.
Consumer Trend #2: Sustainability & Locality
While consumers' support of local and sustainable products has increased over the past few years, shortages and concern of imports have amplified this trend since COVID.
In light of COVID, many of us have experienced a shortage in one way or another. As a result, one study reported that 67% of consumers say that they will be more cautious about the scarcity of natural resources. These shortages have caused clear effects on consumers views', with a majority of consumers looking for companies that embody a sense of purpose and have strong sustainability credentials.
It is important to note that this desire is contradicted by a statistic that shows 40% of consumers prefer disposable product packaging both today and in the next 6–9 months. On this note, retailers must find ways to balance product sustainability with product safety.
The effects of COVID are continuing through to not only how consumers shop, but where they shop as well. In a study done by this company, 46% of consumers have reported shopping at closer neighborhood stores. This habit extends through the shopping journey, with 54% of consumers preferring local items over imports, as mentioned above in product safety. Consumers are willing to pay for it, as well, with 34% indicating they would pay more local products.
What This Means
Retailers need to upgrade their brand's current sustainability efforts, and in a quicker manner. As noted in In-Store Shopping Safety, consumers preferred to shop at retailers who took quick action, so quick efforts to upgrade their sustainability could be tied to winning future sales.
What You Can Do
Showcase what measures your brand takes to practice sustainability and put this on display for consumers to see. Use product packaging as well as marketing campaigns to keep customers informed. Balance this strategy with the promotion of cleanliness, since consumers are currently putting a priority on their safety.
Consumer Trend #3: Product & Store Safety
While 97% of consumers feel there remains a need to go to the store to purchase items, they have changed the way they shop by condensing shopping trips and staying closer to home during these trips.
As mentioned in locality, 46% of consumers are shopping at closer neighborhood stores. This move towards local shopping shows that consumers are being more mindful of the way they shop, beyond sustainable practices alone. Further confirming their desire to support the local economy, 34% of consumers indicate that they would pay more for local products.
Condensed Shopping Trips
The shopping trip has changed for many consumers. In this survey, 39% of consumers said they are making fewer shopping trips currently. This trend has not removed their desire to shop in-store, however. A reported 26% of consumers are now doing larger trips to minimize the number of trips they have to take.
What This Means
Consumers are shopping closer to home while making less but larger shopping trips. While foot traffic might drop, sales might see less of a dip, given retailers employ the right tactics.
What You Can Do
Maintain clear inventory transparency to keep customers informed. Allow them to reserve items online or offer curbside pickup to secure the sale. Offer promotions for larger than AOV sales.
Consumer Trend #4: Contactless Shopping
The word contactless is a rising star in the retail space. Contactless shopping has been the touted term for retailers as they try to lure customers back in-store. These efforts are futile unless retailers understand what consumers want to see in this space. Consumers are focusing on four areas of contactless: Curbside, Delivery to Home, In-Store Interactions and, Automation.
In stark comparison with last year, curbside was up 208% YoY for April. While this trend was gaining steam, COVID catapulted this form of click & collect, with over 30% of consumers in one survey stating they did more curbside pickups or picked up the habit during COVID. Another survey found that 59% of consumers said they were more likely to use curbside post-COVID, showing a fundamental change in shopping habits.
Delivery to Home
Consumers are shifting to online and digital solutions as well as reduced-contact channels to get goods and services, with this trend being magnified for millennials. According to this survey, over 65% of consumers reported that home delivery is the safest option currently on the market for them. But will this trend continue post-COVID? For certain groups, it looks like it will, with 68% of consumers saying they are likely to subscribe to a delivery service for grocery and other essential items following the crisis.
There is no doubt that consumers are hesitant to enter the store. A reported 53% of consumers felt a negative emotion the last time they walked into a store. Even though the intent to shop at malls is lower, many consumers prefer to shop in-store for certain kinds of items. Shopping trips will be planned more in the coming months, with 67% of shoppers said they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it. This means that consumers will have a higher level of intent when they do decide to go shopping.
Automation is a large contributor to the contactless shopping experience. While in-store, 57% of consumers would feel more comfortable with complete in-store automation that removes touch-based actions. Notable callouts for this were product information searching, in-store navigation, and order to payment done from the consumer’s phone.
What This Means
97% of consumers prefer to purchase at least one category of item in-store rather than online. While consumers still value in-store shopping, they want to minimize the time they need to spend in-store. This means that shopping will be more intentional. We expect less in-store traffic but higher foot traffic to purchase ratios in the coming months.
What You Can Do
Find ways to up your contactless strategy throughout the customer journey. Add digital receipts, contactless checkout options, and curbside pickup. In-store add QR codes to product racks so consumers can scan the code for product details, without having to touch the product.
A Consumer's Guide for Retailers
While the lockdown brought upon an extreme shift to customer’s shopping habits, the profound effects are likely to linger far beyond the shutdowns. Thanks to the help of your consumers, we have pulled together this quick guide to help you navigate the unknown as we flip closed signs back to open.