Covid-19 has had a remarkable and, what appears to be, permanent impact on customer shopping behavior. As a savvy business owner it’s important to make sure that you are making the changes needed to stay in front of your ideal customer. Here are four things to keep in mind to make sure you are where your customers are.
TIP 1: Your Offering Must Be Convenient
Covid-19 has caused massive changes to our social structure in extraordinary ways. With mandated shutdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing the concept of shopping in-person had to be completely reviewed and revised on-the-spot. When everything shook out it was clear that consumers wanted all of their shopping experience to be as easy as possible. This manifested itself in many ways including, but not limited to, delivery by mail, curbside pick-up, on demand delivery services, and good ol’ fashioned take-out. Some of these options have become so popular with consumers that they will likely remain as options for the foreseeable future.
The big takeaway of this is to take a look at the ways your offering can be delivered to the consumer. Are you still only offering an in-store showroom? Is your online material up to date and easy to navigate? How effective is your competition at delivering to the consumer? You don’t have to have good answers to these questions yet, but they will help guide your strategy moving forward.
TIP 2: Customers Demand Virtual Buying Options
One of the biggest areas of growth in all of retail has been online sales. If there was any doubt of online retail’s dominance then 2020 made it very clear, people like shopping online and now they are willing to buy just about anything and everything on the web. Even in-person store staples, like toilet paper and groceries, are now just as likely to be purchased online as from the corner store. To reference Tip 1, the level of convenience that comes with being able to buy online is definitely here to stay.
As a business owner it’s so important for you to have a way to sell your offering online. This is not just for consumer goods, although there are plenty of great third-party companies and apps that are very good at helping you sell them, even services should be available for purchase online. Consultants, hair stylists, and groundskeepers can and should have ways to schedule and pay for their services online. The easier you make it for your customer to spend their money the more likely they will.
TIP 3: Buyers Care About Wellness and Safety
If Covid-19 has done anything it has made us all very aware of health and what people will do to remain healthy. Wellness was already a growing trend for consumers before the pandemic with a focus on healthier foods, home exercise programs, and kitchen accessories, but 2020 really cemented it. With handwashing becoming a TikTok trend and masks becoming common fashion accessories, consumers are adding the idea of safety and wellness into their everyday lives. It’s also affecting their choice of retail. Consumers are more likely to shop at places they feel safe at. Sellers that show a concern for the buyer’s safety had a much better 2020 and early quarters of 2021 than those who didn’t.
The question for the business owner is how are you addressing consumer concerns? Do you mention your pandemic precautions on social media? What about in-store signage? Do you offer products that may assist buyers in feeling safe while shopping, like hand sanitizer or branded masks? Even little things, like a more robust cleaning schedule, can be effective ways to show your efforts. While these steps will likely get rolled back as reopening expands, your customers won’t forget that you made the effort.
TIP 4: Customers Expect More Value
Of all the tips mentioned here, this is the one that is true no matter what. We all watched as unemployment exploded in 2020, greatly reducing the buying power of consumers. Even though jobs are coming back as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, people are still in a recession mindset when it comes to spending. They have less money so they are expecting more for it. That being said, the value they are looking for isn’t just that they want to spend less. People are willing to make some large purchases as long as they see the value of it, like new appliances that might save them money in the long run. Maybe it’s a product with a longer shelf life. Maybe it’s something that will help them do a new job or make their homes more comfortable. Value can be measured in many ways, and consumers will be ruthless when they look for it.
As a business owner take a look at your offering. Is it offering the most value you can? Are there low cost extras that you can provide, like free training or a tips and tricks newsletter? Have you built a community around your offering where the consumer feels comfortable reaching out with questions? All of these are ways to add value that customers will respond to.
The post 2020 world is very different from the time before. But change doesn’t need to be scary or bad. There are still buyers out there and if you can match your offering to their buying behavior they will find you. The steps above are a good start to make sure you’re making yourself as attractive as possible. If you feel like you need help, give us a call! We’re happy to offer some suggestions.