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Leading to a seismic shift in consumer behavior

Retail businesses have a unique opportunity to reset and rebuild for the longer term. How they help consumers navigate the pandemic will influence their future success.

Consumer habits have changed—and these are here to stay. With the lives of consumers upended by COVID-19 and long-term trends accelerated in the space of mere months, there have been substantial and lasting changes in the way people live, work, and shop. Health, safety, and finances continue to impact consumers’ attitudes and behavior. In the last 3 months, personal health has remained top priorities for consumers, while fears over finances have grown.

What consumers are buying and how they are shopping has changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic, and these new habits are continuing. In many cases, consumers have used this life pause to reflect on their own consumption. They are striving to shop locally, mindfully, and cost-consciously. The concerns are clearly playing out in consumers’ lives.

COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Indian retailers at an unprecedented scale. The crucial question is to find the new normal, creating a sustainable business model on the back of strong digital technologies.

March 24 lockdown ushered a new era of unprecedented pause in Indian retail. Since then retailers across all spectrums are facing multitude of challenges. Leveraging digital technologies are imperative to fill the created void and complement evolving consumer needs via their preferred channels (where), contactless experience (how), and 360-degree convenience (when).

New retail has to be the convergence of physical and digital commerce. Retailers are trying to be present where consumers are, instead of depending on store footfall. New models like click n collect or deliver at home is becoming the new norm of post-COVID era. In addition to that, personalized customer experience and social listening are turning out to be crucial to retain brand loyalty.

With low infrastructure cost and ease of use, cloud services have opened new channels for mid-tier retailers to introduce integrated e-commerce services along with complete customer experience and personalized services. Order orchestration and management tools ensure timely online fulfilment directly through dark stores to liquidate locked inventory.

It is now the era of partnership. Retailers and technology providers need to work as partners. Technology is helping retailers in maturing their shared service models allowing them to broaden their customer and geographic reach and provide greater value and insight to internal customers.

All retailers across the globe are trying to know their customers better, thereby coming out with specific personalized marketing campaigns and promotions. Targeted campaigns on social platforms and on apps are now trending, spends on media ads are slowly being curtailed, and the marketing rule books are being re-written.

Even as retailers open their doors to consumers, retail footfall remains below pre-pandemic levels in most countries across the world and consumer confidence is low, although there are hopeful signs of an uplift in the next 6 months. The dramatic rise in the adoption of e-commerce and omnichannel services sees no sign of abating.

The retail industry has suffered challenges in its past, but none like the current pandemic. Long term trends have accelerated, and retail consumers have permanently changed what they buy and how they shop. Retailers are responding with new products and services, and new ways of working.

Home has become the new battleground. With life, work, and shopping continuing to focus around the home, retailers are designing services and experiences to meet new consumer needs, as well as increase investments in digital, and maximize the potential of their store network by reconsidering formats and locations.

Retail businesses have a unique opportunity to reset and rebuild for the longer term. How they help consumers navigate the pandemic will influence their future success. TVJ Source

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