As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers will gradually go back to physical stores. Nevertheless, consumer behaviors that have been developed amid this global health crisis are still expected to remain in the post-pandemic world. While lives have been radically reshaped, there is still a sense of optimism as we enter the new normal1.
An increase in online shopping is a behavior that has forced retailers to funnel investments into eCommerce—some even grappled with the need to quickly pivot to meet the demands of remote consumers. However, now that stores have reopened, brands have to assess which COVID-inspired solutions are all worth keeping. In the retail industry, delivery costs, warehousing, and web and digital ad expenses are the biggest areas where increased investment occurred.
Now, retailers need to reassess their long-term strategy, and make it more proactive than reactive, to offset the spike in expenses. This requires improving efficiencies and reducing returns, while retaining customers and enhancing personalization2.
As if only overnight, we witnessed how eCommerce plans shifted from “top priority” to a serious lifeline for retailers struggling to survive the pandemic. Many retailers have reopened, but customer trends show a diminishing need for brick-and-mortar stores as today’s consumers will now only shop for online products they previously bought in stores.
To succeed in eCommerce, retailers must address the question: “What customer experience do I want to offer?” This approach builds a connected journey relevant to target consumers and frames the channel ecosystem designed to provide value and convenience across that journey.
Retailer brands must now consider how their product and service assortment can favor a home environment, and put a premium on these offerings. About 38% of consumers intend to do more shopping online and will only visit stores that provide an excellent customer experience. In anticipation of the continued prevalence of work-from-home arrangements, consumers will, in effect, also do more cooking at home, and would expect to spend less on travel. This reprioritization has driven significant changes in the way brands interact with the consumer3.