Online ordering and curbside pick-up became an essential service for everyone from major retailers like Home Depot and Target to restaurants and small specialty shops. Bookstores began delivering orders without a delivery fee. Even car dealerships have had to rethink their entire sales model, with many moving the full customer experience online.
While these business transitions were driven by the pandemic, the new consumer buying trends — and the business measures put in place to adapt to them — will likely become a permanent fixture even as the economy enters a recovery phase.
There’s so much discussion around returning to the old normal, but retail’s future depends on getting as far as way from normal as it can. Retailers need to seize the opportunity and reimagine the experiences they provide—and create the next normal.
What would this look like? As a guiding principle, retailers should be finding ways to put the customer first in the experiences we provide.
Now is the time for marketers who have spent the past six months on the sidelines, interpreting the signals buried in data and gathering learnings, to put their messages back out where consumers are active and engaged – increasingly, outside the home. As more digital screens become available, brands and businesses need to keep in mind the particularly timely benefits of digital out-of-home (DOOH) as a way to effectively and efficiently deploy their market spend in our “new normal.”
Earnings results that rolled out from retail giants over the past week further demonstrate what our next normal will look like. Specifically, Walmart and Target both hit record numbers. This is partly a function of Covid-era circumstances, but it is also due to each retailer’s active e-commerce momentum.
The earnings validate consumer acclimation to digitally infused local shopping. What’s more, other retailers and down-market businesses will look to replicate this success. This can all therefore be viewed as a leading indicator for retail’s next normal.
Covid-19 has upended the way consumers buy products. But the pandemic is hardly the only factor accelerating the shift from in-person to online purchasing. This trend has, in fact, intensified over the last decade. With more than 9,000 store closures last year in a strong economy, physical retailers for some time have been trying to figure out how they can thrive (and in some cases survive) in an increasingly digital marketplace.
It’s therefore imperative that retailers (of all sizes) embrace a hybrid business model, where online and offline assets are more integrated. Covid-19 has only made this more apparent.
With the addition of call data from DialogTech, we’ve been able to add an important new layer of insight to our examination of consumer sentiment in 2020.
The current report also adds two full months of new Google My Business data to our ongoing study. As you’ll see, the picture painted by the new data is one where consumers are continuing to limit their shopping activities in comparison with pre-pandemic trends, but have increased store visits and contacts significantly throughout the summer, likely with a focus on an expanded set of essential needs mixed with optimism about a return to normal.
Brick-and-mortar merchants are moving their stores online or developing combination solutions that encompass both website sales and curbside pickup to keep pace with customer demand. Many of those businesses that haven’t made the switch are weighing their options and looking for the right technology. Plug-and-play e-commerce platforms tend to be the most popular route for merchants looking to quickly pivot to online sales, but features like scalability, flexibility, and integration with inventory management software are also important to SMBs.
Here are six e-commerce solutions that brick-and-mortar merchants will want to check out.
More than half of Americans say they’re concerned about touching cash during the Covid pandemic, and 60% say they plan to use so-called touchless payments in the future. Google’s Waze is leaning into the shift with a new integration and partnership that will enable contactless payments at the gas pump for drivers all across the country.
According to a report by Dragontail Systems, 53% of people say they prefer carry-out and delivery during the pandemic. To keep pace with that demand, restaurants are investing more heavily in technology platforms that enhance end-to-end kitchen operations.
Here are seven platforms that restaurants can use to manage online orders and streamline their takeout operations during Covid-19.
Location intelligence is expanding beyond its well-known uses for advertising (ad targeting, attribution, etc.), supporting enterprises in a number of other ways. That includes supply chain management as well as decisions about where to open another store location.
All of the above applications of location intelligence are fueling UberMedia, our latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast. UberMedia CEO Gladys Kong says that this expansion of location data’s utility was already underway but has accelerated in the Covid era.
Household targeting was possible before the pandemic, but it has become even more necessary for brands since shelter-in-place orders began this spring. With more people living together, and spending more time together inside their homes, having the ability to target multiple members of the same household has become more valuable for marketers.
“The pandemic has caused people to spend a lot more time at home. That means more time spent with shared devices,” Tapad COO Mark Connon says. ”Brands need to have a better understanding of who is using what device and when, despite these shifting behaviors, in order to make their engagements count.”
SYKES for FinTech recently conducted a survey to assess new consumer trends and discover how Americans view the next normal. SYKES polled 3,000 adults about their experiences with contactless financial technology (FinTech), like mobile banking, as well as touch-free purchasing, curbside pickup, delivery services, and other contactless customer experiences. The survey responses offer insights into the marketplace of tomorrow.
As we roll into August, it’s time to establish Street Fight’s monthly editorial focus. After our standard ritual (no animals harmed), we’ve settled on “The Next Normal.” Forced to adopt new technologies just to survive, some local businesses have experienced a decade of evolution in just a few months.
So the question is, how will newly elevated local businesses transform the local commerce landscape? If a large share of the local business universe has raised its game, what will be the new “bar” in local media, advertising, and commerce? How should tech providers adjust to new demand signals?