For weeks now, COVID-19 has ravaged economies as nations go into lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When these lockdowns were first put in place, consumers tightened their wallets and curbed their spending habits due to lost jobs, lower wages, and uncertainty about how long the COVID-19 outbreak will last. Even now, as some countries have begun reopening business sectors, consumers remain hesitant to their hard-earned savings.
In some extreme cases, people are being faced with a retail landscape unlike any they’ve dealt with before. Toilet paper is out of stock, packages of chicken are being rationed, and shoppers who venture into stores are being told to leave their reusable bags at home. Lockdowns and movement control orders have forced consumers to shop differently, often online for the first time, and this multi-generational event will likely change the way people view shopping forever.
Retailers and businesses will have to shift their own strategies in order to align themselves with this new consumer mindset.
The most obvious change with consumers is the shift in their priorities, and retailers that can deliver upon their daily needs are thriving. Hand sanitisers, disinfectant wipes, eggs, and medications are the first thing that comes to mind while demand luxury goods are generally on the decline.
Food delivery also saw a monumental rise in usage as more people choose to stay at home and avoid as much physical contact as possible. Those who start using such online apps might find the convenience worth it, even possibly choosing to do so after the pandemic blows over. Furthermore, as consumers try new shopping options and become more digitally sophisticated, those habits are likely to stick.
To say that the retail industry is at a critical turning point is quite the understatement. Businesses must do their utmost best to provide a positive customer experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important for retailers to revisit, revise and integrate their digital strategy across the enterprise and to have a unified data platform that allows them to adjust as consumer expectations are now shifting day-to-day.
Already, many businesses are embracing digital transformation in order to keep up with the change in demand and expectation. Those retailers that are embracing this transformation, from marketing to delivery, will likely be the ones that come out on top once the lockdown orders are rescinded.
Companies should start preparing now by taking a deep dive into their operational, product, and customer data and use that information to come up with the best possible products, services, and pick-up/delivery options.