The COVID-19 pandemic affected the retail sector in a variety of ways – from limited store capacity to social distancing rules and more, merchants all over Canada adapted to these very quickly. The crisis also accelerated numerous shifts in consumer behaviours that were already underway. For example, contactless payment has existed in Canada for many years and most consumers were accustomed to paying with their contactless cards. With the increase in transaction amount limits for contactless, and the demand for touchless experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of this payment method has increased further. Another trend that was already underway was the rise of eCommerce. While eCommerce numbers have been consistently rising over the last few years, the pandemic pushed more people to purchase products online. As a result, most consumers embraced online shopping even for items they would have previously preferred to buy in store.
As Canada comes out of the pandemic, retailers need to prepare for the post-COVID world. According to PWC’s Canadian Consumer Insights 2020 report, while some consumers will go back to their previous behaviours, the pace at which these are evolving is only going to pick up. This change will require merchants to look for ways to transform the customer journey to meet these expectations.
1. Reinforce Your Safety Measures
The pandemic has had a global impact and has fundamentally changed the way people shop and what they expect from retailers. Customers walking into retail stores want to feel safe and it is important for retailers to reinforce their safety measures – to not just retain existing customers but also gain new ones who may be looking for brands they can trust. In addition to following local and national guidelines on this matter, stores can innovate by investing in more touchless experiences from self-service solutions to curbside pick-up. This also involves training the staff to better assist customers with these experiences.
2. Reimagine Your Stores to Serve Customers Better
The catalyzation of eCommerce was one of the biggest trends in retail in 2020. Most people stayed home and shopped for essentials online. Brands with no Internet presence had to scramble to set up eCommerce portals and help their businesses survive. Many grocery chains worked hard to offer to buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup and delivery options to serve their customers better. While some customers are eager to come back to the store, others may still prefer BOPIS or curbside pickup method for their future purchases. This is where merchants need to reimagine their stores to serve all use cases. From reallocating store space for online order fulfillment to strengthening touchless experiences within the store can help merchants serve their customers better in a post-COVID world.
3. Reinvigorate Shoppers with Unique Customer Experiences
According to the PWC report mentioned earlier, in addition to Millennials, Gen X and Boomers, Gen Z is slowly experiencing a rise in their purchasing power. Every group has different preferences - from the type of store they like to shop at to the platform that works best for them. Understanding each type of customer can help merchants better appeal to their target audience. By offering unique customer experiences pertaining to their relevant target group, merchants not only remove friction from the shopping experience but help build trust with the customers that matter most to them.
Designing Customer Journeys in a Post-COVID World
To quote Gene Cornfield’s piece in Harvard Business Review, “…customers don’t follow scripts. They follow impulses, urges, whims, and preferences, often in unplanned moments of opportunity.” It is the merchant’s job to provide those experiences which will help customers act and buy what they need. From making sure customers feel safe shopping in your store to offering them services such as BOPIS, curbside pickup and delivery, these customer experiences can go a long way in building trust and loyalty.
If you are looking to design an effective customer journey in your retail store and need help getting started with payment technology, get in touch with us.
Josephine Parisi is Sr. Relationship Manager, Canada at Ingenico, a Worldline brand