For physical retailers who are yet to establish a name as big as common household names, they are struggling to keep up with the new normal of retail. What kind of experience can we expect to find from brick-and-mortar businesses after the crisis?
Shops were forced to close down for months. People turned to online shopping. Visits to physical stores turned to short, anxious shopping with each shopper feeling uneasy whenever someone moves in proximity. Even as the economy slowly opens, many people still fear going back to physical shopping. Will this go on after the pandemic?
It is very difficult to predict just when Covid-19 will stop haunting the consumer’s minds. No one even knows if retail will ever be the same again. But if there is one thing for sure, that is the fact that e-commerce is the new normal of retail.
How the Pandemic Sealed the Deal for E-commerce
Brick-and-mortar businesses have been fighting to survive way before the age of Covid-19. People’s shopping behavior and their ever-changing demands often make it hard for retailers to keep up. But if there is one thing that did most of the damage to physical retail, that is the birth of e-commerce success.
It did not help that the pandemic did not give people many choices but to adapt to the new normal of shopping. When fear dominated the hearts of shoppers, retailers can’t simply watch and had to cater to their consumer’s pleas. And what consumer wants, businesses had to always find a way to deliver.
Due to physical stores closing down, many people are doing business online. Brands scrambled to optimized their websites, online stores, social media marketing, and local SEO. Many started investing in professional digital marketing strategies, often working with an experienced SEO consultant to gain a competitive edge.
The Covid-19 crisis accelerated what was supposed to be the future of brick and mortar businesses. E-commerce has indeed been around for years now. But even with the huge success of e-commerce giants, the pandemic sped up physical retailer’s need to quickly adapt to online.
In a nutshell, Covid-19 sealed the fate of e-commerce. Buying and selling online is here to stay even after the pandemic and beyond. If brick-and-mortar businesses want to experience success, they need to find a way to compete with the already established online stores and E-commerce giants.
What Physical Retail Experience Will Be Like in the Future?
Physical shopping will surely change, even after the pandemic. The new normal guarantees that shoppers will prioritize their health and personal safety instead of convenience. Even if people will go back to shopping in physical stores, some will never abandon online shopping even if it meant long waiting times in exchange for better peace of mind.
In line with this, consumers will favor physical retail stores that will continue to observe proper distancing. Big and spacious stores have an advantage since they already have lots of space to work on. Gone will be the days when shoppers are willing to battle their way in narrow aisles.
The option for paying for orders online and picking up their items at the nearest outlet will be the new in-demand retail feature. Generation Z, together with millennials, prefer BOPIS or buy online, pick-up in store. As for Baby Boomers, only about 10% will continue grocery shopping online after Covid-19.
Since physical stores thrive and earn better with more foot traffic, retail owners will do anything just to attract more consumers into their store and entice them to linger longer. One tactic some retailers are eyeing is Best Buy’s famous advisor program. Instead of trying to beat Amazon in its online retail game, the company optimized its customer service by doing free in-home product consultations. This reassured consumers that the company is a reputable brand that offers a personalized customer experience.
Another consumer demand that retailers can’t ignore is their need for instant information. AI makes it possible to answer customer inquiries in no time while keeping track of a consumer’s buying and browsing behavior to create a personalized recommendation after every visit. You may incorporate this idea on your website, social media page, and online store to improve the online experience of your target audiences. This goes to show that online customer experience matters as much as physical customer support.
Why Continue Incorporating Digital Augmentation With Your Current Marketing Efforts?
Businesses who already invested in boosting their online presence should not stop digital augmentation after achieving their goal of increasing sales and boosting foot traffic. Since the pandemic accelerated people’s willingness to adapt to a new way of shopping, people will never leave the E-commerce landscape. This is since they already had a taste of what online shopping has to offer.
Thankfully, many business services specialize in helping businesses establish a solid virtual presence. You can always outsource digital marketing companies to take care of your online marketing needs. This way, you can focus on improving the kind of physical retail experience you have to offer to your customers.
The pandemic may end someday. But E-commerce will be here to stay to continuously compete with brick and mortar businesses. It already changed how consumers search, pay, and buy the things they need. What matters now is that retailers find a way to attract anxious shoppers into their store, boost their confidence in shopping in-store, and convince them to stay longer and shop more.