"As shelter-in-place measures pushed people across the globe to switch from shopping in-store to online, 2020 has shouldered a decade's worth of behaviour change. This mass digital education of the public has been a cross-generational phenomenon that's very quickly had a cross-category impact: digitalising entire consumer journeys, from interest to purchase to customer experience." Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President of EMEA at Facebook
The pandemic changed our daily lives and caused a fundamental change in shopping behaviour around the world. According to IBM estimates - countrywide lockdowns and non-essential restrictions have accelerated e-commerce adoption by up to 5 years.
As consumers adapt to this new shopping reality, brands and retailers must understand their behaviours and expectations to achieve success. We look at two significant shifts in consumer shopping behaviour across the globe.
“In-store” is becoming transactional as online is becoming experiential.
“The path to purchase is stronger online, more so than it has ever been. Pre-COVID-19 often meant browsing the physical shop environment on a day of leisure or because they knew they needed something. The thought processes will begin that path to purchase but the destination was a brick and mortar experience. Now, however, there is a huge increase in consumer behaviour originating their purchase journey online, and the conclusion of their purchase is not always in shops like it’s historically been.” Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder of Retail Minded
Before, going to the shop was a casual decision, now consumers are becoming more prepared and efficient even before entering the brick and mortar store.
Not only are shoppers looking to retailers to provide these conveniences, but they’re also planning their shop visits further in advance with the help of online resources. According to Facebook IQ, around two-thirds of shoppers say that most of their shopping decisions are planned instead of spontaneous.
What does this mean for marketers? We need to leverage messaging to offer full-funnel customer support. Consumers want to feel more comfortable shopping online, and part of that is having questions answered as they shop, having a direct line to a product expert and overall customer support. Consider using social media and messaging services to build brand relationships offline that would’ve come naturally in store.
Invest in Relationships
Loyalty programmes must evolve beyond just discounts.
As consumer preferences shift, loyalty programmes will have to evolve by providing exceptional service and valued rewards. Almost two thirds (65%) of consumers globally have experienced at least one issue with a loyalty programme that they are part of, such as points expiring, having difficulty redeeming points and being unaware of special rewards. Across all surveyed markets, the main benefits that people want from their loyalty programmes are free services (e.g. returns, delivery) and faster access to new products.
What does this mean for marketers? Taking a broader view of a retention strategy, with so much choice, offering competitive prices can only go so far in keeping loyal buyers. Evaluate how you’re delivering on each element of the new loyalty equation.
The truth is that consumer behaviours are evolving faster than ever before. From safer shopping to accelerated eCommerce adoption - the way consumers discover and purchase products have fundamentally changed. For brands and retailers to succeed, they will need to create a seamless and relevant shopping experience for their customers across channels, moments and mindsets.