As businesses begin to open in earnest, the spotlight is on the trends and patterns emerging in the era of the post-pandemic shopper. To gain better insight and understanding of where retail is headed and what retailers need to do to capitalize on new shopping behaviors, three retail thought leaders joined The Experience Evolution podcast: Jonathan Horemans, Head of Growth for Mercaux, Roger Sowerbutts, Global Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Go Instore, and Graeme Greenwood, VP of Product at JRNI.
In the third episode of The Experience Evolution, they’ll discuss:
How today’s consumers want to engage with retailers on their terms
How retailers need to focus on developing true omnichannel strategies to satisfy shopper needs
How it’s important to meet shoppers where they are, customize their shopping journeys, and give them access to 24/7 retail experiences
Omnichannel retail strategies are key to strong customer relationships
As shoppers look for ways to engage with retailers on their terms and use a mixture of traditional online and in-store shopping experiences, Greenwood said it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on a well-defined omnichannel strategy.
“We are seeing a number of demands and trends from retail customers,” Greenwood said. “First, we see a comfort level with different types of modes - so - either video, call, or face-to-face. Most retail customers are happy to be on Zoom, or WhatsApp, or different types of video. We’re also seeing a new hybrid type of shopping reality where consumers are really seeking out truly optimized, agile, safe, and frictionless services.”
Before the pandemic, Horemans felt many retailers put efforts of ensuring they had the systems in place to fulfill their brand’s value proposition on the backburner. That’s why retailers need to have a strong tech foundation to provide the options consumers are looking for.
“Generally, the retailers I’ve been speaking with have been quite rattled by the pandemic,” Horemans said. “And it’s thrown them off-kilter, which has made them aware and emphasized the importance of a strong tech foundation.”
From a consumer perspective, Horemans said they have noticed that consumers are now a lot more value driven and focused on brands that can relate to them.
“Given the tightening of the wallet during the pandemic, consumers were a lot more conscious of how much they were spending and what they were spending money on. There was also an increase in loyalty. So a deeper loyalty to the brands that they already were loyal to,” Horemans said. “I also think consumers are generally moving away from this idea of perfection. We've all been home, we've all re-evaluated what matters to us in life, what makes us happy, so when [consumers] are buying from a brand, they're looking for the brands that understand them as an individual.”
Additionally, Greenwood said that shoppers are doing more research and expect to engage with retailers and have experiences 24/7.
“We've seen a much more competitive landscape across retail, and those retailers that are on-demand, 24/7 will pick up brand loyalists from other retailers,” Greenwood said.
New virtual modes of shopping are here to stay
Sowerbutts wonders as retail stores begin to open up, if customer engagements with video drop off. But he found that customers, even an older demographic, adapted to the new ways of shopping during the pandemic, and they like having these additional options.
“What’s happened is the pandemic has accelerated the use of eCommerce and eCommerce platforms by five years,” Sowerbutts said. “It’s forced people to think about different ways of operating and different solutions to offering customer service.”
Greenwood points out that video and live streaming options, including virtual video appointments, not only benefit consumers, but also, retailers.
“You're seeing that you can drive new sales and new revenue through different channels, like live streaming and video, which is a great asset for the retailers,” Greenwood said.
Retail management moving forward
Moving forward, it’s important to consider that each customer journey will be unique, and retailers should be prepared for anything.
“Some people are really interested in booking videos, some people are interested in going to the store. Some people are interested in SMS or texting. And I think fundamentally, as a retailer, you just need to now have those options,” said Horemans. “You have to give the customer the journey they want to have based on their comfort level, based on what they find intimate, based on what they find convenient. No customer journey is going to be the exact same every time anymore, and I think that's what's changed.”
“My advice would be, don't rule anything out. Don't think that because the doors have been thrown open that all customers will come flooding back and it will be how it was pre-pandemic - because it simply won't,” Sowerbutts said. “I think the world has changed forever. And I think everybody should learn the lesson of ‘be ready for anything’ and adapt to this new world.”
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