As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our world, both socially & economically, new consumer behavior trends are emerging every day and are likely going to stay. Mandated social distancing & shelter in place orders have all but halted foot traffic to brick & mortar retail outlets. Lay-offs & salary cuts have radically changed purchasing priorities as many consumers are facing an uncertain economic future. COVID-19 will permanently change the future of retail and how consumers interact with brands. Brands that are adapting to these new trends and strengthening existing customer relationships are paving the way to future success. Below are a few key steps that businesses who are still operating, albeit in a more limited capacity, can take to lay the groundwork for the new world of retail.
  1. Lead your current customer – Utilize social media and email lists to reach out to existing customers with forward thinking content. Remind them why they chose your brand in the first place and show them how you are thinking forward to help solve their new challenges during and after this crisis. As we move into an unstable economy at best, customers care most about the value being brought to them. Personalize messaging in ways that speak to your customers’ new realities, using recent purchase behavior and content engagement as guidance. If possible, educate and inspire customers as to how they are going to work with you in the months ahead.
  2. Improve site experience and data collection – The shift to e-commerce is here! If you haven’t gotten on the train yet, you’re late. Consumers have more time than ever to get used to the idea, casually browsing sites, comparing prices and researching what they’re buying. Since many people are buying their preferred products online for the first time, ensuring a smooth site experience will go a long way. Focus on streamlined site navigation, quick add to cart features, clear delivery times & excellent customer service. Additionally, use this time as an opportunity to expand collection of first-party data and gain valuable insights about consumers who may not typically engage with your brand online. Segment and identify new user behavior, the content they’re engaging with and products they’re purchasing. These data points can be used to improve your acquisition strategies, both online and in retail outlets, moving forward.
  3. Plan for the future – It’s difficult to plan for the future but consumers will demand forward looking vision from brands. We have to assume the majority of consumers will choose to continue their shopping experiences online. If your business previously relied heavily on retail volume, assess and use this time to test how you can improve your digital presence & diversify revenue streams moving forward.
  4. Implement and then iterate – Don’t wait to perfect a new offering or value add before you launch it, or you will be late to the party. Now is the time to work in new ideas and services to customers, and be transparent with them about your progress. Use this time as a testing playground to learn and perfect store pickup processes, delivery offerings, store fulfillment, etc along the way so you’re ready for the permanent shift.
As we are now moving past the initial surge of panic induced consumer behavior, each day presents an opportunity to identify the emerging trends which will continue beyond this pandemic. The key points above, as well as remaining nimble in response to these patterns, will help to position your business for success in the future.

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