The global pandemic has shaken the retail industry in an unprecedented way. Consumer behaviour has been forced to change — an acceleration of the shift to online that was already underway. It’s been a period of rapid experimentation. Nearly one third of consumers purchased items they had not shopped online for previously, and 53% said they shopped with new retailers or brands and are excited to continue to shop with them online. Towards the end of lockdown in the UK, 42% of consumers expected to shop more digitally post-pandemic vs. just 6% who expected to shop more in-store.
Since many stores reopened their doors in mid-June, it’s clear the shopping experience has changed dramatically. It’s still early days for bricks and mortar retailers as they face a set of challenges no-one could have predicted. We wanted to discover how consumers feel about the first few days of trading — what do their attitudes to shopping tell us about the future of the store in a socially distanced world? And what does this mean for you?
Here are five things you need to know about the post-lockdown consumer.
#1 They ARE shopping in-store… but many say it’s not as enjoyable as before
40% of shoppers we asked visited a store within the first week of them reopening. But it wasn’t the experience they remembered and for many, this meant it wasn’t as enjoyable.
- 47% I had to queue to access the store
- 40% It was a less enjoyable experience than prior to COVID-19
- 26% I couldn’t try on any items due to fitting rooms being closed
- 35% It was less convenient than prior to COVID-19
- 28% I was nervous to be shopping in-store
Top Tips To Ensure a Positive Customer Experience:
Be sure to leverage local campaigns on Google and Facebook to ensure you set the right expectations and support stores with reaching their traffic or sales goals.
- Adapt your messaging so you can create the right expectations for the in-store experience.
- Schedule your local campaigns to run at times when traffic is low.
- Employ Google Store Visits and Facebook measurement which are free tools that help you get relevant analytics and understand what’s working.
#2 Clothing and accessories are the most in-demand items
When it comes to what consumers were browsing and purchasing, certain product categories were clear favourites. Interestingly, everyone who told us they browsed for beauty products actually made a purchase!
What were consumers browsing?
- 60% clothes, shoes and accessories
- 42% beauty, health and personal care
- 30% home and kitchen
What were consumers purchasing?
- 52% clothes, shoes and accessories
- 42% beauty, health and personal care
- 29% tools, hardware and DIY
#3 They are expressing a strong digital preference
As many consumers embrace online shopping there are clear signs of a move towards digital preferences. When asked if they had waited for stores to reopen to purchase particular items, 43% said they had got everything they needed online whilst 38% said they preferred to purchase a few items in-store.
Furthermore, 25% said they actually prefer to get everything they need online opposed to in-store.
Top tips to capitalise on the digital-first mindset:
- Take advantage of digital preference and increase ad spend for targeting components.
- Focus on items that will not run out of stock & have good margins.
- Exploit gaps in the competitive landscape.
#4 Marketplaces are the preferred channel to shop on
With millions of sellers and billions of products across online marketplaces, shoppers know they have multiple options for purchasing the same item. As the e-commerce industry undergoes a major transformation, consumers continue to seek out their favourite brands on marketplaces.
When asked about their channel preferences, consumers were most comfortable purchasing on marketplaces, 67% compared to just 29% who said physical stores. Furthermore 39% of shoppers said “I go to Amazon before checking anywhere else!”
Top Tips to Win on Amazon:
- First, keep a close eye on recent performance. Your reporting window should have changed. Looking at the last 12 months might not be helpful when deciding what to optimise and how.
- Shift your budget, focus on components that work and plan your campaigns around inventory levels and shipping availability.
- Next to products that are performing, keep a close eye on products that start to see steady growth and optimise the campaigns and investment accordingly.
- With more people online, prioritise your new product launches. As we know, on Amazon, paid has an influence on organic visibility so advertising is a great tool to accelerate that.
#5 They are researching online more than ever before
Given that in-store shopping isn’t proving as enjoyable as before, 63% of consumers expect to research online before entering a store. In fact, 56% say they now research online more than before lockdown and this rises to 72% if we look at those aged 18-25 only.
Where are consumers researching?
- 64% Google
- 61% Amazon
- 58% Retailer Website
- 47% Brand Website
- 36% eBay
- 18% Facebook
- 13% Instagram
- 8% Other Marketplaces
Top Tips To Be Discovered:
Now more than ever, you need to reach consumers where they are. Having a diversified channel strategy is vital. Evaluate your marketing and selling strategy across these major platforms. In many cases, your products might already feature on the marketplace in the form of end-of-season stock or via resellers. The most effective way for you to take control of your customers’ brand experience is to be present on the marketplace yourself, own the experience and sell more yourself. In order to do this it’s crucial to adopt an omnichannel approach to avoid discrepancies in product information, messaging, and availability to keep consumers engaged.
The post-lockdown consumer is open to discovering new brands, keen to do their research across a number of channels and knows what they want.