Article contributed by JRNI team members Angie Tiwari and Maame Afaidze-Hayford.
As we move into the final months of the year, we creep closer towards what is usually the busiest time for retailers. Peak season often means spikes in traffic and purchases as consumers buy presents for their loved ones and, of course, for themselves. This year’s holiday shopping season will be like no other, and retailers are scrambling to adapt to changes in consumer behavior and health guidelines.
Let’s explore how stores can offer a shopping experience that prioritizes the safety of both shoppers and staff.
1. Build trust
Make your consumers feel they come first by preparing a safe environment for all aspects of the shopping experience – waiting to enter, browsing, and checking out. Consumer behavior has drastically changed since the pandemic began, but social distancing has remained a constant. Setting and enforcing guidelines for shopping will show consumers that you’re prepared and taking their safety seriously.
2. Prevent overcrowding and long queues
Overcrowding has always been considered an inconvenience, but now it’s also a health risk. In order to prevent overcrowding, stores must understand maximum capacity as well as how long consumers are willing to wait to enter a store.
With the impending winter weather and holiday busyness, customers will have less patience for waiting in line. To manage this, stores should introduce virtual queuing so shoppers can wait in line without actually having to physically stand near others.
Additionally, offering customer appointments can ensure that foot traffic is spread throughout the day. Another benefit of appointments is that stores can avoid downtime, make time to frequently sanitize, and better prepare for upcoming appointments.
3. Meet shoppers online
Shopping and behavioral habits have changed in 2020 more than ever before. With nationwide and localized lockdowns, and with consumers spending more time at home, online shopping has become the norm. Online shopping rose by 129% across the UK and Europe back in March, and continues to rise across most categories.
In fact, 73% of consumers still do not feel safe in returning to usual activities outside the home.
But it’s not the lockdown alone that has influenced consumers to shop from the comfort of their homes. Consumers are also getting acclimated to the experiences that brands can provide online. Whether retailers offer remote appointments or host virtual events, consumers are engaging with brands from their couches.
“73 percent of consumers are still hesitant to resume regular activities outside the home.”
4. Continue connecting
With continual changes to health guidance and new information daily, it’s more important than ever to build positive and emotional connections with customers. And shoppers are open to this. In fact, over 75% of consumers have tried new brands during COVID-19.
The retailers that will emerge successful after the pandemic will have prioritized customer and staff safety, catered to new consumer behavior, and built relationships.