How Retailers Are Adapting to Meet the Needs of Returning Customers
The retail industry will feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for months to come, but as the percentage of Americans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine increases, signs are pointing to a return to out-of-home spending. The world of traditional retail is on fire, and in order to last, brands must learn to adapt to the changing needs of their returning customers. This often means offering more options to meet customers at their convenience and comfort levels.
With some consumers even feeling online shopping fatigue, customers have a renewed desire to shop in-person, especially when retailers deliver an improved experience than they remember from pre-pandemic days. New retail tactics include touch-free technology, revamped in-store experiences, added convenience and more. Below we share an in-depth look at the ways in which retailers can safely welcome shoppers back into their stores.
Implement Touch-Free Technology
During the pandemic, tons of innovation was born out of the need to reduce touch and stop the spread of germs. Shoppers have largely embraced the new norm as retailers responded with a quick rollout of new technologies. Innovative ways of meeting shoppers’ needs have brought “contactless” and “frictionless” into our vocabulary more than ever before.
Technology, including touch-free payments and contactless delivery, has quickly become mainstream. Many consumers see contactless mobile payments as the safe way to pay, and often use their mobile devices to pay for pickup and delivery orders. Companies that have managed to break the mold quickly and bring new technology into stores are currently ahead of the game.
Find Ways to Expand the Shopping Experience
The shift to e-commerce is one of 2020’s biggest retail takeaways. As e-commerce soars, retailers must find new ways to bring consumers into their stores. The key will be giving customers something they can’t experience while shopping online. The more focused companies are on elevating the in-store experience, the better.
In today’s landscape, more people are comfortable shopping online for things they swore they’d never buy electronically, and that changes what physical stores need to offer. Because product information is so easily accessible online, it's imperative that employees greet customers with more knowledge about products and services than ever before. Providing a more informative and hands-on shopping experience will set retailers apart from popular e-commerce sites.
Shopping appointments are becoming more widely available as well. One-on-one shopping gives stores the opportunity to get to know the customer’s needs more intimately and help to better serve them, all while the customer is free to shop at their leisure.
Level Up Convenience
Even though pure-play e-commerce touts “fast” two-day shipping, brick-and-mortar retail still provides the fastest way for customers to receive their products and services. Retailers that are local are especially well positioned to serve customers in their communities. The key is finding ways to be the most convenient option for consumers, whether that’s through impeccable customer service or added ways to shop. For example, some companies have implemented retail direct-to-ship programs through call centers where customers can purchase products remotely rather than needing to be in-store.
Options like curbside pickup are also growing in popularity. It offers a seamless shopping experience with hardly any wait time, and is often a faster way to receive products than traditional shipping. Curbside pickup was the only way many stores could still serve their customers during the pandemic, and now consumers have grown used to it and often prefer it.
As more Americans begin to re-enter stores, the retail industry is adapting quickly to meet the latest needs. The retailers that learn to adapt and innovate their shopping experience will see the most success, while those that wait to make invaluable changes will be left behind.
Chad Jensen is the president of Round Room LLC, which leads and invests in companies serving the wireless industry.
Chad Jensen is the President of Round Room LLC, which leads and invests in companies serving the wireless industry. With 1,251 TCC and Wireless Zone stores across 40 states, Round Room is the largest Verizon Authorized Retailer in the U.S. Its portfolio of companies share a deep commitment to improving the communities they serve nationwide. Jensen has served as President of Round Room LLC since 2019 and has been recognized as CFO of the Year twice by the Indianapolis Business Journal.