McKinsey calls it The Quickening: ten years of digital transformation compressed into a ninety day period. Microsoft says that two years’ worth of transformation has transpired in two months. Whatever your measure, and regardless of industry, the pace of innovation, transformation and the resulting changes in consumer behavior has never experienced such turmoil. And nowhere is that more evident than in retail.
One day shoppers were out and about, and the next several months, they were home leveraging online shopping, delivery services and worrying about when the world would return to normal. As our world situation eases, retailers are confronted with managing a more demanding, fickle consumer, with new demands from personal safety, engagement preferences and increased options from retailers.
Retailers have responded with a spate of customer-focused solutions from BOPIS to curbside pickup to video shopping and more. Retailers are creating new types of personalized experiences for their customers, and much is poised to become the new status quo. Along with the technology innovation, shoppers have new demands, a need for safety, and a desire for control over how, when and where they interact.
As such, we recently commissioned a survey of 2,000 retail consumers - equally dispersed between the United States and the UK - to see what’s on the mind of customers and what they want to see from their preferred retailers.
With a backdrop of new variants, pending lockdowns and potential disruptions to the supply chain, holiday shoppers are taking no chances to miss the holidays this year, and as a result, they’re shopping early. Despite the availability of a vaccine, and the numerous contactless options introduced by retailers, consumers are taking no chances.
We’re seeing that 56% plan to do their shopping early, and as the survey was fielded, 8% had already finished. Spending levels stayed fairly consistent, but time is clearly of the essence
2. In-store shopping is here to stay
Nearly half of those surveyed reported that human contact is an essential part of the shopping experience. As such, shoppers are looking to get out into the stores with 65% of UK shoppers looking to “hit the high street,” and 59% doing so in the US.
Over half stated that they’d be more likely to book an appointment than queue outside in a crowded waiting area. This is up from 34% in our 2020 survey. Four in 10 are more likely to book an appointment in-store today than they were prior to the pandemic. They feel that retailers offering appointments as an option means the retailer is considering the safety of both staff and shoppers, while proactively managing store capacity.
Consumers want control over their time, their wait and their safety, and that’s just the beginning of some of the benefits that appointment scheduling provides.
3. Shoppers want options
Today’s retail consumer is a hybrid shopper, choosing which products and services to purchase online, and those that must be seen in-stores. And some demand to move seamlessly between the two.
And they’re looking at new ways to augment the shopping experience. Many report positive experiences with virtual and video appointments. Savvy retailers are offering omnichannel options for shoppers for a consistent experience no matter how they choose to engage.
With the rise of hybrid retail, there's significant focus on balancing the in-store and online experiences, while ensuring that there is continuity between the two for optimal customer experience. To learn more about what consumers are looking for, and what you, in turn, may want to offer, read the full report: Hybrid retail report 2021.