COVID-19 Changes To The Customer Experience That Are Likely To Stick Around

Shopping Arrows for Public DistancingDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail industry has had to make drastic adjustments to how it conducts business. Shopping in-store has become discouraged, limited, or banned, affecting the behavior of consumers and the business tactics of companies.

As the pandemic continues, we are seeing the emergence of new trends like curbside pickup, and touchless retail or the increased use of existing trends like online grocery shopping.

We aren’t sure what the “New Normal” may look like, but we do know that the shopping experience has forever changed. Below, we are listing the three changes to the customer experience that is likely to stick around.

Touchless Retail

Verizon recently announced its efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus with the introduction of touchless retail. Touchless retail does two things to decrease the threat of transmission in consumers and employees.

Whether customers wish to repair a device or buy a new phone, they first need to set up an appointment online. In doing so, the consumer can read Verizon’s requirements for in-store shoppers, and the Verizon store can spread appointments across the day to reduce saturated foot traffic.

Second, Verizon now requires its employees to use gloves and facemasks at all times. Beyond that, Verizon stores are now using partitions to reduce physical contact, reducing the amount of in-store demos, and using enhanced cleaning tactics.

Verizon is just one example of the many companies focusing on reducing foot traffic, increasing cleaning measures, and creating a hybrid shopping experience with online and in-store interactions.

Curbside Pickup

In-store shopping is banned in many states. In other localities, businesses are recommending curbside pickup to protect their employees. Either way, curbside pickup is an emerging trend, and it’s not likely to go away.

Kimco Retailers, a prominent shopping center owner, has added designated curbside pickup parking spots to 23 locations in Texas. In the coming days, Kimco will do the same nationwide— and these installations are permanent.

As the United States emerges from the mandatory COVID-19 lockdowns, shopping malls will continue to open. While we will all certainly appreciate this return to normalcy, many consumers will still want the quick, convenient, and stress-free curbside pickup option.

Maintain Consumer Loyalty

Many customers prefer sticking to one brand. But they may find a new one if their preferred product is out of stock. In fact, when polled, 79% of US consumers have said they have tried new brands because their preferred brand was out of stock. Additionally, up to 45% of consumers indicate a willingness to stay with the new brand. To retain customers, businesses must focus on having a stable supply chain, a reliable online platform, and a strong brand image.

Businesses can also benefit significantly from building loyalty programs and providing unique benefits to continued customers. Nike, for example, is promoting the brand through free fitness apps that normally cost $15 a month.

COVID-19 has caused irreparable damage to many businesses, but it has also given entrepreneurs the space to innovate. We’re not sure what the world will look like in a year, but we’re confident that these trends are here to stay.