2020 has been anything but a normal year, and it’s shaped how we behave in everything we do. Exercise, diet, work and as consumers.

Forcing us to change our behaviours has in turn shifted the hardest thing of all - consumer mindset. Our long-held beliefs are being challenged, and as creatures of habit this may well mean we change these behaviours permanently.

For example, since the COVID-19 outbreak began, 15 percent of US consumers tried grocery delivery for the first time during the COVID-19 crisis, and 40 percent of these intend to continue getting their groceries delivered after the crisis. This isn’t just about how consumers receive their groceries, but also why - faster, safer, easier. And yet, while all of these convenience factors have always been there, so too have consumers deeply entrenched behaviours that had them doing what they’re familiar with. Triggers, like COVID-19, are powerful ways of motivating consumers to engage in new behaviours, with the less barriers to entry making it easier and more likely to be adopted.

So where does that leave your stores?

In an unexpected paradigm shift, we are now being faced with the challenge of enticing those same customers back to stores. Your in store experience can be your competitive advantage if you know how to efficiently enhance the offering.

 If we look at the primary benefits now being experienced by customers’ fast adoption of ecommerce across industries, it’s clear the store needs to provide something above and beyond the ease and convenience of online.

Stores can drive conversions through trial and personalised brand experiences

By all means, using your existing data to drive personalised experiences online should be a business priority. But you can take this further and create ‘peak moments’ or memorable brand experiences in store by surfacing that data in significant ways. For example, a sales associate may see an appointment booking for a returning customer, reviewing their sales history and preparing the order with a thank you note or an offer for a new or complimentary product for trial.

Stores can elevate your ecommerce offering

By putting stores at the heart of your omni-channel offering, you actually can enhance the capabilities of your online store. Not only are you providing fulfilment options like click & collect, high involvement goods often require in-person evaluation to close a sale. You can reduce a consumer’s likelihood to search elsewhere by providing appointment bookings for a physical evaluation and assuage doubts around health and safety with contactless payment options upon arrival. You may even provide additional incentives for coming in store.  

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a disruption in customer behaviours which is likely to challenge long-held beliefs. This means reframing the purpose of your stores for your customers, giving them new and exciting reasons to engage beyond the limitations of their browser.