RETAIL: How to Rebuild and Re-establish your Customer’s Journey after Covid19

What you will learn:

  • Cliff notes on simple ideas to think through
  • Recovery Plan
  • Technological advancement in the ‘New Norm’
  • Ways to promote customer engagement and experience

“Hopefully, this whole mess that we’re going through is an opportunity to get away from the transactional and begin something more meaningful.”

I love this quote (see links and references below). To me, this is the part that sets the stage for focusing on recovery, innovation, and creativity. This is what I have always loved about retail, fashion, and overall store experiences. That this industry is creative, and along with hotels and travel, really appreciates and does its best to understand and service their consumer.

We all know that Covid19 will change our world forever and we know the impact is not yet known, I referenced a few links below that can get you deep in the numbers and ideas it’s not a bad read.   However, the purpose of this blog is to assemble the research, articles and information that I have gone through. As well as provide some insight from a technologist and consumer’s perspective. The one thing I have said in many of my blogs and webinars as of late is none of this is surprising. Guys this was already happening, if you were not focused on digital online and instore experiences well now is your wakeup call.

Whether you look at the stats of your core buyer or just understand the fact is that people will increase online buying, and still want to go to stores and shop (see gen Z and millennial info below).   Now the question is what are you going to do now and how to prepare for this.   Here are some facts, stats and information to help you think this through. I want to say this as well, you can implement this technology for little investment and in many cases just based on monthly short-term agreement.   If implemented properly it will pay for itself in a short amount of time and with year over year gain.

A whopping 87% of U.S. shoppers prefer to shop in stores with “touchless or robust self-checkout options,” for example, while more than two-thirds are using some form of self-checkout, according to new research from weighing solutions firm Shekel.

  1. In-store Experience- Digital, Health and Wealth
    1. Provide hand sanitizer and ways to protect the returning customer
    2. Provide ways to allow customers to check inventory or look for sizes through their mobile phone or interactive screen
    3. Provide ways for automated checkout
    4. Look for more frictionless engagement features, video and interactive options while they are looking in store
    5. Connect your In-Store with your eCommerce
    6. Focus on the Omnichannel, get your experiences consistent from online to store to social.

“The millennial consumer, they do demand the in-store experience,” he said in an interview, adding that e-commerce will continue to be reserved for buying essentials. “They want the experience to be embracing, and the brand’s responsibility is to build a level of trust, and the store experience helps anchor that.”

  1. “Right now, we all feel vulnerable, and once the crisis is over, consumers will look up to brands to redefine the value of trust. Could that translate into an upgraded level of in-house services that provide comfort and a sense of wellbeing? Could it be more innovations for low-touch services, more sanitary display and handling of merchandise? In other words, could inventory control change the way retail is experienced?”
    1. Think through what touchpoint you can add as a flow through the store
    2. Rich content on screens and interactive points, connect your buyers to Social, Local and Mobile
    3. Easy inventory lookup or ways to get products in or outside the store, home delivery and convenience as a focal point
    4. Provide social distancing places and technology so people can look through inventory while they sit or wait for others to move
  1. “Good for your body, good for everything will continue to be sticky. Health is the new wealth. And it’s not just the product, but the process to get the product into the consumer’s hand, that needs to be sustainable.”
    1. As you provide distancing options, welcome customers back with new offers, product displays, brand information
    2. Use technology, Temperature sensing options at the front are affordable and effective to help employees and customers feel safe
    3. Connect your brand with health, comfort and digital experiences that convey this connection point throughout the omnichannel

Healthy, safe, and local. One of the biggest challenges facing retailers is the need to protect customers and employees from contracting or spreading COVID-19. Concerns about health and safety have never loomed larger for stakeholders across the value chain. The retailers with the highest degree of touchless automation, both in stores and in warehouses, may enjoy a clear competitive advantage, as they face lower risk to consumers, employees, and their overall operations.

The longer the crisis lasts, the greater the likelihood that online and omnichannel purchasing will become the next normal. While this shift is pronounced in grocery and other essential categories, the channel shift within apparel, fashion, luxury (AF&L) brands and retailers have not come close to making up for the lost brick-and-mortar sales as per McKinsey & Company’s  recent article on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector demonstrates.

Even Deeper:

Although we are all still learning, let us share with you some deeper ideas:

  • Mixed Retail services – The retail industry’s volatility can then evolve into having several retail companies merge together.
    • This will help effectively on cost sharing (rent, electricity, staff, etc.) while offering complimentary mixed product offerings.
    • Brands may collaborate with co-retail brands, influencers, individual entrepreneurs and experiential companies.
  • Increased Digital Purchasing
    • E-Commerce has shown a significant increase in users and orders. As more people stay and work from home, online services have been mainly one of the go-to’s.
    • According to Statistica’s recent research, in the US, 31% of the people utilized online services for restaurant deliveries. 24% used online ordering for hygienic products, 23% for household items.
  • Local goods and product demands
    • Due to increased local unemployment, customers will now prefer to support local products over imported goods.
    • The usual companies relying on international manufacturers may now rely on local suppliers. Considering the shipping costs, timely arrival, availability and technically, just the local market livelihood support.
    • People may start upgrading their comfort products – this includes upgrades on kitchen products and digital devices. As some may retain the work-at-home scenario, more consumers will consider replacing and powering their home products.
  • Loyalty and Value-Based offers
    • The most important thing for retailers right now is to keep constant, meaningful communication and relationship to their customers. Though discounts do not necessarily create long term connections, this can help promote loyalty.
    • For promotions consider prolonging the point expirations – this would allow your customers to delay their purchases due to the outbreak
    • As most of the buyers are one-time purchasers, it is imperative to look for marketing offers to get them to re-order. Second purchases even out of the 1% could lead to about 7% improvement in your store’s top-line revenue.

Having the ability to craft your customer’s experience despite having a different mindset is key at this point. Find options and solutions that would provide a different level of experience without compensating health and safety. Consider the technology needed to get you to the next level and how it can help your customers in a more frictionless experience.   That is what we do here at OmniExperience we provide affordable technology that allows you to connect the omnichannel and provide healthy, self-service and brand connected ways to improve efficiency and increase the customer experience.

Call us at 833-300-6664 or email us at [email protected].  I love feedback and research even if you want to discuss an idea or kick around some content ideas you can reach me directly at [email protected].

Doug Ralston
President& CEO, Omniexperience

https://www.retaildive.com/news/the-consumer-after-covid-19/575634/

https://fortune.com/2020/04/20/coronavirus-retail-industry-ecommerce-online-shopping-brick-and-mortar-covid-19/

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/m-and-a/our-insights/the-next-normal-retail-m-and-a-and-partnerships-after-covid-19

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/perspectives-for-north-americas-fashion-industry-in-a-time-of-crisis

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-young-and-the-restless-generation-z-in-america