The uncertainty surrounding the fallout from lockdown and consumers’ changed behaviour makes the task of forecasting the future a difficult one for brands. While commentators obsess about the performance of channels and the extent to which ecommerce is replacing bricks and mortar, we are in danger of missing the key factor. Namely the customer.
As the global population responds to the coronavirus pandemic, key trends are emerging, reshaping the consumers priorities and spending outlook in the UK. The real dividing line is between those who respond and offer a great customer experience with those who don’t.
A changed context: New patterns of behaviour established
Every aspect of our life has been impacted. This ranges from the focus on the preservation of health & wellbeing to the renewed focus on the connection with family and friends to cope with the impact on personal safety and security.
Meanwhile, new behaviour patterns for work & play have emerged. We are staying at home to reduce travel and human interaction. This is, in turn, is changing spending habits as consumers adapt and fill their time in new ways.
While we are spending more of our lives at home and digitally, concerns remain around a spike in cybersecurity threats. Recent YouGov research indicated that 51 percent of consumers cite data protection as a concern. The exposure of personal data is growing in proportion to the rapid shift towards online shopping.
Brands have had to find a new raison d’etre and are discovering new ways to communicate that emphasise empathy for employees and customers as they go into overdrive to overcome the downturn.
While we have remained at home ecommerce has thrived and will be of growing importance. However, the evidence shows online sales will not completely replace lost revenue from traditional retail which needs to be examined.
Online retail sales share increased to 30.8 percent in May and June, however it is forecasted to decrease by 9 percent as stores open. The fact remains customer experience in considered purchases remain important as online can’t offer a true brand experience. Customers still long for the human interaction and advice that comes as part of the bricks and mortar shopping experience.
This was born out by a study we carried out last year that indicated 59 percent of people would always rather speak to a person than an automated system to find out more information about a product. Meanwhile, 73 percent preferred dealing with a human when trying to get a refund.
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