3 Ways Retailers Can Keep Up With Radical Shifts in Consumer Shopping Behaviors

March 26, 2021 | 3 minute read
Brigitte Yuille
Content Manager
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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.

Consumer buying behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic

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.

3 ways to respond to radical shifts in consumer shopping behavior

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.

Understand your audience

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.

Offer shopping choices

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.

Communicate proactively

Clear, proactive communication builds customer loyalty. This includes:

  • Automated back-in-stock alerts that notify customers when an out-of-stock item becomes available for purchase again.
  • Transparency around shipping and delivery dates, including email or SMS communications to let customers know when items have been shipped and delivered.
  • Timely information about loyalty benefits. Retailers with loyalty programs can use program data to communicate the benefits of being a loyal customer and inform members of how much more they need to spend or earn with the brand to move up the ranks or redeem certain rewards. Oracle CrowdTwist customer Vitamix includes live, dynamic loyalty messaging in their monthly recap email campaigns to Vitamix Rewards members.

Leverage loyalty to increase retention and make smarter business decisions

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.”                                    


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Brigitte Yuille

Content Manager

As a content marketing professional, Brigitte develops strategies and executes campaigns for large-scale, high-budget editorial, video, and social media projects that produce high-volume content.

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