“A strategy is necessary because the future is unpredictable.”
– Robert Waterman
Now that the future has become more certain, retailers are starting to think about what it looks like, how things have changed and what they need to do differently.
In a recent study we conducted with leading retailers:
- 88 per cent stated that they have changed their operating focus for the next 12 to 18 months,
- and 1 in 4 revealed they are spending more than half of their time on post COVID-19 strategy development.
As retail begins to rebound, retailers need to be armed with the tools to succeed in this new environment. The ability to draw breath and view their business from the outside is a crucial skill.
Now is the time to stop and think about what this means for your business, your staff members and customers. More adroit retailers are seeing this window as the perfect opportunity to understand how can we be running a best practice, what can we do differently and how can we optimise.
Strategy without insights is like surgery with a blunt scalpel. You need to have the data available to base your strategy on, to have key insights into who is your consumer, how they have changed and what the future market looks like.
How will you ensure customers come to you?
In our recent study, 55 per cent of consumers stated they will change where they purchase their products in the future as a result of COVID-19, this may mean they are no longer loyal to their preferred retailer.
This changing consumer is stating that there are less willing to travel to purchase products and they’re wanting more local or simplified experience and are now utilising online shopping and click and collect increasingly as part of their retail experience.
So what does this mean for you as a retailer? You need to identify your customer journey and look at how this is changed in the last three months. What touch points are they looking for? How did they spend their time during lockdown? Has this influenced their lifestyle? and how can you put your products into their lives rather than expecting them to travel to you.
This pandemic has taught consumers that there are many alternatives available to them when their preferred products were unavailable. Product shortages, retailer closures and fulfilment issues has caused consumers to look for alternative products and solutions and this has influenced their purchasing preferences and loyalty to a particular brand.
We need to understand where our customers now spend their time, how they prefer to purchase and we can then use this to understand what our optimum omnichannel strategy should be.
Putting products into our customers “new normal” lifestyles rather than expecting them to return to previous behaviours.
With 80 per cent of retailers expecting that their store network will change as a result of COVID-19, it is time to rethink your physical store and e-commerce strategy and how this links to your customer needs.
How does each of your consumer touch points speak to each other and how do they each influence customers purchase. Does your website give customers a reason to visit your stores, does it drive them to want the in-store experience and vice versa. Do your stores ensure customer centricity, making it easy to purchase products seen in-store when home online or via social media.
We know that during these four months of lockdown consumers have increased their digital usage with the rise and rise of Tik-Tok, YouTube and Instagram. Understand what other platforms may be available, that are actively utilised by your consumers, putting your products into their everyday behaviours.
60 per cent of retailers have changed their store opening strategy, and 1 in 2 expect in-store sales to decrease, as a result of COVID-19 and are now looking into alternative approaches to get their products to consumers and to grow the brand.
This solidifies the need to think about your omnichannel strategy to think about ties between in-store and online. It is no longer separate categories, they all speak to each other as part of your retail ecosystem.
Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis is general manager of consumer insights and projects at Retail Doctor Group.