Let’s face it, the past 4 months have been difficult for almost every sector in industry, but especially retail.
The lockdown, restrictions and general uncertainty has transformed the way in which we have been operating and behaving not just as people in a society – but as customers in a marketplace.
The closure of non-essential retail shops has driven a huge surge in online purchasing, with global players such as Amazon utilising their emphatic logistic network to their full advantage – and fair play to them.
Customers have been making purchase decisions heavily influenced by availability and price, rather than experience and personality.
Brands have turned to social media to ramp up their dialogue – creating new and innovative content in a bid to stay connected to the consumer – and converting more and more to the online purchase.
But what about the brands in the retail sector that have little or no online presence? What about the brands that have a huge retail footprint and rely upon numbers passing through their doors and not just visits on to their websites? What about the shopping centres?
The re-opening of non-essential retail on the 15th June is a major milestone for the retail recovery in the UK. Adhering to social distancing guidelines, shops and retail centres will reopen to the public after months of closure – and will hope that their customers return too. By no means is it the light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel is long and uncertain, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
The re-opening of non-essential retail on the 15th June is a major milestone for retail recovery in the UK.
When the doors do reopen, how quickly customers return is unknown – but it won’t be the same as before. Not only will there be a natural nervousness and trepidation by customers following the lockdown, but there will be the added safe distancing and operational issues to consider. I’m not sure many can claim to have enjoyed supermarket visits over the last few months with the long queues and directional arrows?
For retailers, getting this right first time is going to be a challenge.
Customers will be rusty. The patterns, behaviours and liberties they took for granted when shopping have changed – and this is where retailers must act now.
Customers must be welcomed back in a positive, engaging and safe manner. Yes, compliance with the social distancing measures is absolutely critical – but should not be done at the expense of the customer experience.
Making the experience a pleasurable and safe one will undoubtably give the customer confidence to visit again and more importantly, spend again.
Retailers need to remind customers why they love shopping in person. Despite the challenges, they have to bring their shops to life.
Queuing, PPE, social distancing and limited capacity are all here to stay – so brands must learn to adapt – but still put the experience of the customer first.
A warm hello and a smile will go a long way but that’s just the start.