Six months after COVID-19 started making its mark across the world, lockdown restrictions and widespread working from home offices have caused many consumers to rethink their shopping habits. Retail technology company Conversity believes that understanding the intricacies of these new mindsets is vital if brands are to thrive in the post-pandemic world.
The shift from in-store to online has been dramatic. While recent figures show online sales growth slowing since June as retailers started reopening their physical premises, total online sales are around 50% higher compared to February, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. It is a paradigm shift, and one that is likely to be permanent in some capacity.
Brad Christian, Global Chief Customer Officer at Conversity, said: “COVID-19 has forced many of us to rethink our spending habits, and this is requiring brands to reconsider their consumers and how they market to them. We have seen three clear customer mindsets develop over the last few months and expect them to impact consumer behaviour post-pandemic. These consumers are:
- Sustainable and socially aware customers: many have become much more conscious of their shopping behaviour and its environmental and social impact
- Apprehensive customers: millions of consumers are nervous about setting foot inside a physical store again or purchasing from an online retailer for the first time
- ‘Value-add’ customers: many consumers are having to get by on less and worried about their incomes during the pandemic. As a result, people have become more conscious about the need to get real value from their purchases.”
For Christian, the next great challenge for brands and retailers is to gain an in-depth understanding of what makes these customers tick, and to implement those approaches and technologies necessary to give them a comprehensive, personalised online purchase experience.
He added: “This is where retail technologies will really make their mark in the next few months, with intelligent guided selling (IGS) set to play a leading role.
“IGS works by simplifying online customer journeys through enriching and analysing customer data and applying search, recommendation and segmentation logic. This data is then condensed into a small number of relevant, real-time product recommendations that help consumers make complex purchases – such as a new phone or internet subscription – with ease and confidence.
“Effectively, tech like IGS helps retailers to replicate the traditional in-store experience – where sales advisors ask qualifying questions and guide customers through their choices – in the online world. This means that all customers are properly looked after, whether they want to be socially responsible in their shopping, are worried about purchasing just the right thing, or want to make sure they get the right product the first time.”
Christian concluded: “The ultimate goal for retailers now is to be human in every interaction with their customers. The landscape has evolved and consumers aren’t the same as they once were. The companies that are wise to these new mindsets are the ones that will set themselves up for success going forward.”