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The COVID-19 pandemic led to radical changes in consumer habits. Containment measures, restrictions on the retail sector and people’s concern for their health accelerated the adoption of online shopping and sparked new decision-making processes among consumers.
Facebook IQ, the division of the company dedicated to market knowledge, prepared the study The future of shopping is ahead of uson the outlook for retail to understand the changes and build a bridge between current uncertainty and future opportunities.
In this document, Adriana Peón, commercial director of e-commerce, retail and financial services at Facebook, shares five recommendations for businesses that can help them successfully meet consumer needs in 2021.
1. Adapt the shopping experience to the new customer expectations
Picture: Clay Banks on Unsplash
While price is still the most important factor in buying decisions, over the course of 2020 people have reevaluated their expectations and considered additional factors when buying. For example, security is important to physically going into a store. 71% of consumers worldwide say that a safe business environment is very important. Reliability has become essential when shopping online. 70% of consumers say it is important that the products they want are available.
In this regard, it is recommended that companies customize the shopping experiences both in physical stores and online to comply with security measures and inventory reliability and to increase the likelihood of completing the buying process.
2. Reduce the friction between in-store and online purchases
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People expect a quick and easy shopping experience. If they have to take unnecessary steps or experience delays or obstacles, they are more likely to abandon the process. The pandemic increased the possibility of additional friction by increasing both the risks and consumer intolerance of them.
These barriers extend to both physical stores and online. For example, 38% of global consumers say they face time risks (e.g. long waiting times and difficulty finding products) when shopping in-store, and 54% say they face functional risks (out of stock or lack of information) have products) when shopping online.
Reducing friction both in-store and online should become a core business goal. By minimizing waiting times and ensuring the availability of information and products as well as a smooth payment experience, consumer confidence is strengthened and they are converted into regular customers.
3. Focus on both the transactional and the experimental
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Face-to-face shopping has traditionally been viewed as an experience. So if you want to see and feel a product, go to the store. While electronic commerce was classified as a mere transaction. The pandemic has blurred these distinctions and even reversed the roles of both channels. More and more people want in-person shopping to be efficient and e-commerce to be comprehensive. In fact, 63% of online consumers worldwide agreed with the statement: “I want to try the products on virtually from home.”
Technologies like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Live Commerce can serve as substitutes for in-store experience to build trust. The first two narrow the gap between the online and offline worlds by enabling the digital representation of products in physical spaces, while live trading allows people to make purchases while streaming tutorials and product demonstrations live what motivates consumers to complete the purchase.
4. Try to reach out to local buyers as well as the rest of the world
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Many consumers have tried to help businesses in their communities: two in three people say they have taken steps to support a local business, either by making purchases or promoting it on social media. At the same time, global online sales increased 21% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year as shoppers looked for product availability and better prices.
It is clear that consumers are not restricting their purchases to one geographic area and are increasingly looking for the products they need both locally and globally. Businesses can follow suit and seek to meet buyer needs in their own communities and in potential new markets.
Thanks to technology, it is now much easier to get in touch with people who are in a different place. However, it is important to understand the relevance of localized marketing, such as adjusting the language of advertising and information based on location or customer preferences. In addition, it is important to try to create a seamless shopping experience throughout the trip that shows details of the purchase, as well as offering reliable payment platforms and various shipping options.
5. Build loyalty with a multifaceted strategy
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More than 60% of consumers worldwide say they have tried a new brand since the pandemic began, while 58% said they have tried a new online shopping platform.1 This diversification has helped undermine loyalty and customers. Consumers themselves report feeling less loyal to both physical stores and online shopping platforms.
In addition to the importance of the price, additional factors such as availability (e.g. inventory), accessibility (e.g. communication channels), attributes (e.g. environmental practices) and measures (e.g.) now have an impact, omnichannel experiences ), Altruism (e.g. responding to COVID-19) and protective measures (e.g. safety measures).
Gaining loyalty in 2021 won’t be an easy task. However, it is possible to achieve this consistently by developing a multi-faceted strategy that responds to the factors that have traditionally influenced decision-making, as well as those that have become more relevant since the pandemic.
“Of course, companies cannot afford to stop and wait for things to be the way they were before, but must try to transform the shopping experience to make it more convenient and easier. The big advantage is that technologies are now available to any person or company that make it easier to develop and create new business opportunities, ”said Adriana Peón.