Retailers are constantly reinventing themselves to meet consumer expectations and technology innovations, but the global pandemic has accelerated the retail industry’s change of pace. A McKinsey study found that consumers are reconsidering the stores they frequent, the brands they purchase, the way they shop, and how much they spend. “…Out-of-home engagement improved from late sprint to early fall, but since September, about two-thirds of consumers remain hesitant to regularly venture out of home,” according to the report.
The unusual and unpredictable nature of these events has left marketers struggling to find ways to respond. However, the ability to notice and understand patterns can help uncover solutions.
The various stages of the global health pandemic produced different shifts in consumer buying behaviors. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, governments put in place stay-at-home orders. Consumers stocked up on home essentials like toilet paper. They entertained themselves with books and picked up new hobbies. Those who were able to work from home purchased technology and office equipment.
As the pandemic ensued, consumers realized they had entered a “new normal” that limited social interactions. So, they prepared to endure the novel coronavirus for the long haul. They made themselves comfortable with home and self-improvement projects, and self-care items to help soothe themselves during the momentous year. A Credit Karma survey found that over 35% of consumers made impulse purchases based on stress and anxiety.
However, hidden among the shifts in consumer buying behaviors and sentiments are patterns that present opportunities for retailers when identified and analyzed. Making an impression on consumers during these times means adjusting messaging tone and product selection to strike an ideal response.
Here are three ways to respond to the radical shifts in consumer shopping behavior and how loyalty programs help retailers build better customer experiences.
Consider data that can help you learn about the changes within audience segments pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19. For instance, engagement data from loyalty programs can be an excellent source. Retail loyalty programs powered by Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement, for example, incentivize members to complete surveys and reviews, providing retailers with feedback on what’s driving customer loyalty and where to allocate budget.
Millennials and Generation Z are driving the delivery economy. Options like buy-online-pick-up-in-store and curbside pick-up are cutting delivery costs, helping consumers avoid shipping costs, and access their purchases faster. Forward-thinking retailers can leverage their loyalty programs to reward customers for the new ways they’re shopping. Consider offering free shipping or delivery as a member-only perk or rewarding loyalty members for choosing a store pick-up option. Offering flexibility around how your customers can shop with you, and rewarding them for it, is a great way to add value, create a better shopping experience, and drive loyalty.
Clear, proactive communication builds customer loyalty. This includes:
Retailers have the opportunity to win and retain customers by incentivizing and rewarding customers for their new shopping behaviors within their loyalty programs. An added perk: Retailers can also benefit from looking to their loyalty program data for guidance on product and merchandising decisions.
Discover more ways to adjust to changes within the retail industry in a competitive landscape. Download the whitepaper: “Retail Loyalty in the Midst of a Pandemic Part 1: Radical Shifts in Shopping Patterns.”