Brands must now adapt their retail customer experiences to reflect what customers value most as we enter the post-COVID-19 era.
Until recently, social distancing was a nearly unknown expression. It’s becoming a crucial preventative tool for people all around the world. Social distancing seems to be more of a cultural norm. In addition, customers are demanding assurances of health, good hygiene, trust, and security. This is changing how shops and brands approach retail customer experiences.
In addition, it will have an impact on future loyalty-building and growth initiatives.
Customer experience is frequently measured as the sum of the individual experiences provided to customers in retail and other consumer-facing organizations. This collection is enriched by responses to newly engrained pandemic behaviors.
Customers want more than simply products. In addition, they are looking for more than just traditional customer engagement techniques. They want immersive experiences. In addition, they expect individualized services and engaging connections.
Combining the Digital and Physical Worlds in the Retail Customer Experiences
Sometimes it seems that technology effectively addresses these needs in the online world.
However, everyone is moving toward the combination of the digital and physical worlds into a “phygital” construct. This is getting closer to the desired nirvana of the omnichannel state. As a result, there is the necessity of increasing human engagement in some manner.
Recent examples show that this is the case.
Apple’s stores are a little like “town squares.” They have fun and unique experiences that draw customers to the stores. Tiffany & Co. developed Style Studios, which are reinvented locations with comfortable, intuitive shopping experiences that feature interactive elements for a younger audience. In addition, Disney has an in-store playroom. In that place, kids can learn and participate in activities. This helps create a sense of community.
These types of experiences, however, are no longer desirable or valuable to buyers in the new world of social distancing.
Will these traditions, however, continue in the post-COVID-19 era? Things may appear to return to normal at some point. However, some COVID-19 behaviors may persist indefinitely. They may go on for a long period after the pandemic has passed.
It’s unclear what long-term changes in consumer behavior COVID-19 will bring. In the age of social distancing, merchants and companies should rethink their consumer experience. They should do this regardless of the present impact.
Therefore, here are a few customer-centric value propositions. Retail businesses have an opportunity to concentrate their strategies on these things for the new reality and beyond.
Convenience and the Retail Customer Experience
Convenience is exemplified by services like purchasing online and picking up in the store.
Many retailers and restaurants now provide contactless payment. In addition, they are offering curbside pickup and home delivery. They are doing this now as part of their regular offerings.
Following COVID-19, these services are anticipated to become more widely adopted. It’s true that last-mile delivery services will be critical. However, capable eCommerce, fulfillment systems, and order management will also be necessary.
Engagement in a Consultative Manner: Advanced Retail Customer Experiences
Brand experiences are greatly influenced by store personnel and the counsel they provide to customers.
AI-driven automation technologies enable virtual store workers to offer shopping consultations in a new environment. This new environment facilitates physical distancing while allowing helpful consultation. This will mean a rethinking of the customer journey map.
Retailers will need to determine the optimal stages for introducing the appropriate form and level of digital involvement.
A Sense of Community in Retail
Many merchants have used community-building tactics to bring together like-minded customers.
In addition, they have used it to increase store visitation. Collaboration technology, like video conferencing, is a vital new tool. It can be used in conjunction with virtual experience tools like augmented and virtual reality. These can provide simulated community-centric experiences in the virtual world.
Building Trust into the Retail Customer Experiences
When it comes to product safety, there is a greater sense of anxiety and suspicion in these uncertain times.
Packaging and delivery will be scrutinized more closely. This helps clients regain confidence in the products they buy and the actual sites they visit.
Regaining customer trust will need traceability solutions. In addition, it will require packaging innovations and clear communication.
Further, there will be a need for redesigning production and supply chain procedures with a focus on safe handling.
Social Media as a Relatively New Phenomenon
During the COVID-19 crisis, social media was a great marketing tool. However, it was also a venue for scaremongering and misinformation.
Marketers must pay close attention to their social media feeds. In addition, they must implement proactive tactics and provide cohesive messages across all digital touchpoints. In this way, they can maintain their brand integrity.
It’s true that upheaval can be disruptive. However, it can also be a source of opportunity.
Therefore, it’s time to reinvent the online and retail customer experiences. In addition, it’s time to rethink customer engagement, acquisition, and fulfillment tactics.
Understanding evolving human tastes is crucial. Furthermore, it’s time for rethinking customer journey maps. It’s also time for defining good and poor friction in the purchase process. Finally, it’s time for redesigning services, products, and solutions to match new expectations.