We’ve discussed several key consumer behavioral trends in past articles and how brands can leverage such knowledge to prepare for the future of CX. This time, we examine more closely the rising demand for a transformative in-store experience as the war with COVID-19 dies down. Irrespective of the e-commerce explosion in recent years, physical stores are still essential. Find here why and how consumers are reconsidering offline shopping, based mainly on Forrester insights.
With the largest vaccine program currently underway, plus 32% of the world’s population having received a dose and shops slowly reopening, the road towards COVID-19 recovery is undeniably somewhat upbeat.
What does it mean for brands and consumers alike, particularly in offline shopping? Well, according to Forrester’s latest report on what customers will do next and why, there is a huge mix of conflicting emotions in the air. As the reopening of businesses brings more choices to consumers, how do they view offline shopping (or reconsider its value) this time around?
Here are the insights we pulled from Forrester’s Consumer Energy Index and Retail Pulse Survey in June 2021 in response to that question. In it, they describe several key predictions regarding consumer behavior post-pandemic and in-store shopping.
Read on to learn more!
Why Offline Shopping Still Matters
Let’s take a moment to rediscover the value of brick-and-mortar shops before diving into predicted trends in offline shopping.
You’d think that e-commerce, particularly as a result of working from home and other COVID-19-related measures, consumes a huge chunk of the customer experience world.
However, online shopping makes up only 8% of the $3.2 trillion industry, according to Ripen, an e-commerce and marketing agency. The rest of that 92%? It all still belongs to the physical shopping space.
Here is a graph of why customers still shop in stores by the Ripen team:
In summary, looking at the statistics, customers desire the presence of physical shops mainly due to the emotional experience it delivers; the seeing and feeling of things.
Life without brick-and-mortar stores altogether suggests a kind of empty void in consumers’ lives. For many, going to the mall or boutique is a social event to meet friends, possibly make new ones, and have the necessary human interactions for overall enhanced well-being.
Learn more in the next section as we share Forrester’s CX insights that support the graph above.
How Consumers are Reconsidering the Value of Offline Shopping
With Forrester’s June 2021 predictions, the following consumer behavior trends are expected to transpire over the next 12 to 18 months regarding post-pandemic in-store shopping. During this period:
Most don’t want to shop in stores, but they still want them there
Customers are expected to feel underwhelmed by offline shopping. 40% of American shoppers reported that they enjoyed shopping in stores far less than before the pandemic, and a third of customers believe there’s no dire urgency to return to stores even in a fully recovered world.
Yet, despite all this, physical shopping experiences are still a must-have.
Why? It is human nature to desire community and immersion, so physical options should still be readily available for consumers.
Furthermore, online shopping has its own unique set of frustrations, such as slower speed and less ease of access than offline shopping. Thus, e-commerce issues or technical issues are another common reason why customers visit the store.
Mostly the Gen Z customers will be lining outside your shop’s doors
When compared with other demographic variables like gender and income, age appears to have the strongest influence on the rise in offline shopping as the global economy picks up again. Most of those who demand an important on-site shopping experience are Generation Z (Gen Z), composed of people between the ages of 6 and 24.
Gen X, however, is the least enthusiastic about returning to shops, enjoying the experience less than before 2021. Additionally, millennials don’t see the point of revisiting shops unless they absolutely have to.
In the meantime, Gen Z shoppers are more or less eager to revisit retailers. It can also be as simple as hanging out at a shop with their family and friends.
Every shopper differs by their own risk perception, which affects how they shop
How customers think and feel about certain personal risks are constantly fluctuating, thus making them quite sensitive to new situations. As consumer risk sensitivities continuously change, this also means their offline shopping preferences will become greatly affected.
From our recent blog post on understanding consumer well-being, Forrester also shared other profound insights, specifically introducing their Consumer Perception Risk Framework.
With the pandemic in recovery mode, certain consumers are increasingly uncertain of their financial and physical well-being, which impacts their shopping behavior. Forrester refers to these groups as “Thrifty,” “Cocooned,” and “Poised.”
There is a general expectation that the Thrifty crowd is less concerned with their physical well-being and more concerned with their wallets. The social aspect of finding bargains, special sales, and discounts in stores excites them more.
On the other hand, the cocooned spender is more concerned with spending as little time as possible in stores. Therefore, being the ones to embrace digital customer experiences the most.
64% of them would rather avoid going to shops altogether because they are more or less concerned about their physical well-being.
Basically, the ‘cocooned’ place little trust in government regulations to ensure adequate health and safety measures and in businesses to adhere to constantly changing sanitation policies. Therefore, this type of customer will play a further important part in developing the new standards of a luxurious digital CX.
In addition, poised shoppers seek any possible means of maintaining “normalcy” in their daily lives. Therefore, governments and businesses can adjust to the changing times all they wish so long as they do not dramatically restrict the activities of these consumers.
Thus, to make offline shopping a viable future, poised spenders look forward to trying out new shopping methods.
Analyze your customer feedback regarding in-store shopping experiences with Wonderflow
Wonderflow can provide brands with a relieving dose of satisfaction by providing a granular report of industry-tailored trends, especially as the pandemic ‘apocalypse’ nears its end.
Find out, for example, whether your customers demand a transformative in-store shopping experience, where and how to tackle specific areas of improvements, certain experiential features they love or hate, and much more.
Is increasing store visits and loyalty possible by limiting certain products to only in-store? How can retail managers increase customer satisfaction by re-evaluating return policies? Our Wonderboard’s powerful analytics based on customer feedback can address all of these concerns and more. As well as suggesting and predicting the outcome of certain business decisions.
Save yourself the physical trip and just migrate with the click of your mouse over to wonderflow.ai/demo to learn more in our free demo.