What Do New Shopping Consumer Habits Mean For Your Retail Store?
29th September 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic that’s been sweeping the globe continues to impact our daily lives, and there are very few industries that haven’t been dramatically affected. However, today we’re putting our focus on brick-and-mortar retailers, who have understandably been one of the hardest hit sectors amidst widespread lockdowns and other government enforced restrictions used to try and curb the coronavirus spread.
It’s no secret that the high street has been under increased pressure in recent years with the continued growth of the ecommerce sector, and COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped this situation. With consumers forced to stay at home during lockdown, shopping habits have changed. Even with some restrictions being lifted and with shoppers now able to return to the high street, there is still some hesitancy on their behalf.
That’s why today, we’ll be taking a look at how consumer habits have changed amidst the pandemic, as well as how retailers can adapt their strategies to meet these new demands.
So what’s changed?
Before you go changing your retail strategy, it’s essential to get a firm understanding of what exactly has changed with how people are shopping now in comparison to before COVID-19. So, let’s take a look:
- People are online for longer – one of the most obvious changes since lockdown is people spending more time online. Although figures were likely higher during lockdown, stats suggest that users are still using the internet more than they did pre-pandemic
- People are shopping more online – not surprisingly, people aren’t just spending more time online, but they’re also shopping online more, even with some restrictions being lifted. During lockdown these figures showed a 129% increase in online shopping rates, and while this rise has somewhat slowed, ecommerce continues to be a favoured option for many
- People are shopping locally – interestingly, many consumers’ focuses have shifted to supporting local retailers over large, faceless franchises amidst the pandemic. A whopping 56% of people are choosing to shop for locally sourced products and in stores within their community
- People are putting greater emphasis on ethical, environmental purchases – this local shopping trend has also put a greater emphasis on customers’ desire to seek out ethical brands and eco-friendly products to buy online or in store
- People are more conscious of cost – economic pressures with furlough schemes and widespread job losses has resulted in more cost-conscious shoppers, with figures suggesting that 50% of shoppers now cite financial security as their top concern since COVID-19
- People are being more adventurous with online shopping – ecommerce was already on the rise, but 50% of buyers are now buying products online that they’ve previously bought in-store
- People are transferring brand loyalty – some brands will have benefited from increased brand loyalty since lockdown (regardless of whether their stores are open or not), but others may have seen a dip. This is because many shoppers are shifting their loyalties depending on how they perceive brands to have handled the ongoing pandemic
- People expect better customer service – customer service has been a linchpin to success in retail, but during uncertain times, shoppers want better service and reassurance from the brands they spend with
- People note hygiene and personal health as a key concern – hygiene and safety has naturally been a core focus throughout the pandemic and shoppers are seemingly more likely to visit stores with visible safety measures and barriers that protect them and employees
How can you cater for these changes?
With a better understanding of how consumers have changed their shopping habits, it’s time to think about how you can adapt your retail strategy to ensure your physical store stays relevant and profitable both now and in the future.
Reassess your stock levels
In a marketplace that’s suffering an unprecedented downturn, many retailers will have an abundance of stock with fewer customers visiting their stores to buy it. As a result, physical stores should look to reduce their stock levels where possible to ensure products aren’t simply sitting on the shelves and, in the case of perishable goods, going to waste. Less inventory on site will also help with the next point…
Re-configure your store and stockroom layout
With social distancing set to be a mainstay for some time, re-designing your front and back of house set up is essential. Repositioning retail shelving units to allow for wider aisles, as well as installing suitable stockroom shelving that allows easy product identification, will help to reassure staff and customers you’re putting their safety and wellbeing first.
Add visible safety measures
To address consumer concerns about hygiene and safety when visiting your store, look to install visual safety measures. This could be Perspex glass barriers at till points, hand sanitiser units throughout the store, separate entry and exit points and visual prompts such as floor markings to maintain social distancing. Taking these essential steps is all part of reassuring consumers wary of shopping in stores that it’s still safe to do so.
Diversify your shopping platforms
Since lockdown, many retailers have already switched their focus to online shopping platforms to sustain sales – this is likely to be a mainstay amidst the current ‘new norm’. However, committing all your efforts to online isn’t necessarily going to encourage people to visit your store.
To counteract this, look to offer customers the flexibility to shop how and where they feel most comfortable and safe. This could be buying online and picking up in store, curb-side collection offers and more. You could even look to offer customers specific discounts or offers when they visit you in-store, flipping the buy online discounts model around.
Keep up your communications and customer service
With so much uncertainty, retail brands across the board need to be even more mindful of their brand reputation and customer perception. This means maintaining clear and regular communication with customers on the measures you’re taking as a business to adhere to the latest safety guidelines, while offering them the best possible customer experience with your brand.
The most obvious avenue is to meet them where they’re spending the most time: online. From social media to blog posts, take the time to engage with your customers and keep your brand at the forefront of their mind.
There’s no doubt that the uncertainty of COVID-19 has and will continue to impact every facet of our daily lives, but recognising how consumers’ shopping habits have changed and doing all you can as a retailer to adapt your retail strategy and approach to cater to their needs is key.
If you’re ready to start making the right changes to your brick-and-mortar store to meet evolving consumer habits, then let Action Storage help you along the way. With a diverse range of retail shelving, staff lockers and stockroom shelving solutions, we’ll help you find the most practical, affordable solution to suit your needs. Get in touch with our team of experts today on 01908 525700 or send us an email to email@example.com.