The pandemic has taught us how unpredictable and prone to changes things around us are. Longstanding organizational practices and behaviors were significant challenges and disrupted, leading to greater challenges. The same can also be said of daily consumers’ practices which have evolved over time — if you want to learn more about different types of online shoppers, you can read more here.
Recent surveys conducted in the US have shown that thousands of consumers from the very beginning of the pandemic are continuing to change and adapt their shopping habits. The internet has vastly reduced the need for physical retail presence, as such consumers have a greater option to move away from urban atmospheres. Indeed, studies and surveys have routinely shown an increasing desire of respondents to settle into non-urban communities. As of the present, the number of consumers patronizing physical stores has decreased compared to pre-pandemic days, with a growing number of people showing a greater desire to conduct their shopping online instead.
The global pandemic has also forced many e-commerce companies to make survival a top priority. Business plans for the future have taken a backseat in exchange for the need to survive and thrive in increasingly challenging circumstances. The need for survival posed by such great challenges continues to serve as a key reminder for retail businesses to continuously take stock of their priorities in an ever-changing industry.
The focus has also shifted towards bettering digital capabilities by adopting modern technologies such as integrating AI into e-commerce operations to tailor suggestions to customers’ preferences as well as utilizing last-mile approaches such as restaurants that only offer takeaways and retail stores that are only present in the digital space.
The challenges posed by the pandemic have spurred retailers to ramp up innovation efforts in their efforts to maintain their presence in the retail landscape. Aside from setting up an online presence, retailers have also begun to show greater awareness of consumers’ needs and better utilize technology and other assets to tailor their business practices to consumer behavior.
Creating A Better Consumer Experience
The key to success in this industry lies in thinking outside the box and breaking out of traditional methods of operating a retail business. The focus for retailers has to become not on specific investment opportunities but rather on optimizing their consumers’ experience such as bettering AI suggestions and establishing quality UI/UX in their e-commerce websites and mobile applications.
There is no doubt that there will be great inertia in adapting to the modern e-commerce space for retailers who have maintained a long and traditional presence in the physical space. However, it is imperative for retailers to quickly adapt to these changes to redefine their relationships with the consumers, one that incorporates the best of the digital and physical world to provide the greatest bang for your consumers’ buck while simultaneously adapting to modern shopping practices and preferences.
As the pandemic settles, consumers will more often than not be venturing back into physical retail stores, driving business back up in that space, though not reaching the height of the pre-pandemic days as online shopping is likely to remain the main mode of shopping for many consumers. Retailers will also need to factor in the role psychology plays in determining consumer behavior. As such, retailers should develop methodologies to take advantage of consumers’ thoughts and feelings concerning their environments, such as adopting the latest trends in their sales and marketing campaigns.
Aside from websites and mobile applications where users simply make orders and purchases, retailers can also consider integrating novel experiences into their e-commerce practices to better engage customers and set up a steady network of returning customers for their online stores. This will greatly aid in establishing good relations with consumers as well as building a loyal base of returning customers.
Shaping Investment And Operating Decisions
To ensure that e-commerce can better serve every customer’s unique journey, retailers should adopt the latest technologies to better cater to the eccentricities of each consumer’s journey. Retailers should also ensure that their organizations can clearly distinguish the markers between their digital and physical presence, such as clearly labeling and identifying products that are exclusive to their online or physical presence. Furthermore, being in the retail industry entails that price-competitiveness and profit margins are continuously tended to and maintained so as not to deem a business prone to obsolescence. With the click of a button, consumers are readily able to identify better, more competitive rates for products they wish to purchase. Consumer psychologies must be taken into account even in the e-commerce environment to create a seamless integration journey for the consumer from the physical to the digital retail world.
Convenience, Accessibility, Affordability
Consumers in the day of the digital age are continuously on the lookout for cheap goods that can be received fast and in good condition. Extenuating factors such as the pandemic should not be a deterrence for retailers to adapt to supply-chain disruptions as they can negatively impact revenue generated. As such, last-mile logistics remains a key driver in coping with surges in demand for goods purchased online. It is extremely important to maintain competitiveness in delivery and fulfill obligations to orders made online and especially orders made in physical stores.
While it can be tempting to put the onus of collecting goods on the consumer, retailers should take note that this option could be a severe liability if consumers have to handle long and frustrating waiting times for in-store pick up, disrupting a seamless retail experience. This system requires a continuously evolving and well-maintained relationship between several clients and business partners to ensure that consumers’ fulfilments are completed in a time-efficient and effective manner.
Retailers should continue to future-proof their businesses to be prepared for more challenging times ahead. As consumer behaviors continue to evolve, retailers must similarly continue to evolve and update their business practices to forge long-lasting relationships in the digital and physical retail landscape with their customers to ensure that they remain relevant to the modern age of shopping.