How Customer Expectations Have Changed (and How To Keep Up)

As retail experiences change, so too do the expectations of the customers using them. The changes in these expectations have moved rapidly over the last decade, while pandemic shopping has turned the way retail runs on its head. With the entire industry developing at a rate of knots, it can be hard to keep up!

Here’s how customer expectations have been changing, and what you can do to stay in front.

Changes in the Last 5 Years

Retail stores are constantly evolving, and this evolution is only speeding up. The changes in the last five years have seen brands overhauling the way they deliver messaging and connect to the public – including making use of digital signage solutions to replace print signage and employing kiosks to help customers find items not readily available on the shop floor.

These changes are becoming more widespread, as more and more brands discover the ability of digital screens to enhance their customers’ shopping experience.

How Pandemic Shopping Has Accelerated Changing Expectations

Without doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people approach retail. As in-store shopping became impossible, customers moved online and in some cases increased their purchasing, resulting in some brands receiving a pandemic boost through e-commerce.

As we emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns, many customers will retain the online shopping habits they formed over the past 18 months. The accompanying expectations include systems such as same-day click and collect as well as a range of delivery and pickup options. Brands that don’t adapt to these changing expectations risk being left behind.

What Consumers Expect Now

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all for retail customers. What your customers expect will depend heavily on the type of service you offer. For example, if your business has a younger demographic, they will expect click and collect options (usually within a few hours), as well as contactless delivery and pickup. If you tend to have an older customer base, they may expect more traditional shopping options, with face-to-face interaction and pen-and-paper check-in methods still the norm. However, it is important to note the changing expectations of customers has affected everyone, regardless of age demographics. As such, many older customers will not only be comfortable with, but will expect to use QR codes to check in.

What Companies Keeping Up Are Doing (and What You Can Learn)

Most companies have been forced to catch up and keep up by COVID-19 in-store closures, pivoting to prioritise click and collect where possible, as well as fast (even same-day) delivery to local areas. Upon returning to in-person retail, leading brands that have the capability will be turning to digital solutions for queue and visitor management, helping to create a more frictionless shopping experience. As well as this, “endless aisle” solutions that allow customers to visualise and browse products as if they were at home or available for purchase on the spot will be vital in post-pandemic shopping. These solutions are ideal for facilitating the purchase of items too large for floor display (think trampolines, pools, bedding), or items that aren’t available in that particular store, but that can be delivered to their home or another store for pick up.

Digital solutions in these physical spaces will play an even bigger role after retail has found a “new normal”. Employing them now puts your business ahead of the curve by significantly improving your customers’ experience, your staff’s productivity, and your store’s appeal as a destination.

 

For more information on Engagis’ work in retail, contact us today.

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