Consumer habits changed significantly in 2020.
Buyers go out less frequently, shopping online, collecting in store and preferring contactless payment where possible.
Despite news of a vaccine, there are indications of a long-term shift in behaviour. ‘Post-pandemic’, social distancing will have to remain part of the shopping experience as immunisation is rolled out nationwide.
How can retailers meet changing customer expectations?
Retailers need to adapt quickly, embrace new technology and respond to customer queries safely. We know during difficult times that communication between teams and from HQ to shop-floor is more important than ever.
How will this impact the long term?
In the long term, retailers face significant challenges around supply chains; including a drop in demand coupled with longer delivery times. Although panic-buying has lessened, the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain may result in retailers needing contingency plans to stay prepared.
Customer behaviour has shifted, with more consumers concerned about exposure in crowded places. In a recent survey by Econsultancy, 32% of British consumers said that they are likely to change their shopping habits in order to avoid large crowds. A study by KPMG also revealed changing patterns of customer loyalty, towards a focus on security and safety over branding. Customers favour brands who take care of the community, showing compassion during tough times.
The second long-term change will almost certainly be an even greater shift to eCommerce. Millions of shoppers were forced online during the lockdown, and many will be unwilling to go back. A recent survey by Alvarez & Martel found that 17.2 million UK consumers were likely to move their shopping permanently online after the pandemic.
However, this doesn’t spell doom for the high street. According to the ONS, retail sales volumes increased by 17.4% in the three months to September 2020. 72% of sales still happen in bricks and mortar, and with the second lockdown retailers are better prepared than ever. Stores have the opportunity to capitalise on new spending behaviour, by improving access to self-checkout and Click & Collect. This can all be supported by more effective communication, between colleagues, customers and teams.
How can VoCoVo help?
VoCoVo headsets enable colleagues to assist customers without compromising safety. Customers can request help using one of our call points and colleagues can answer queries via their headsets, all the while maintaining social distancing.
Customers can get immediate answers to their questions rather than waiting for a colleague to attend to them, reducing the amount of time they spend in store.
Our solution also helps to integrate your online and in-store services. VoCoVo’s open API seamlessly links with your workforce management, telephony and IoT devices to deliver personalised notifications into colleagues headsets. By combining this streamlined approach with the personalised service that is unique to the high street, you can make in-store shopping a tempting prospect.
VoCoVo can significantly reduce your overheads. By increasing task efficiency with our headsets, you can save £111 per week per store, or £5,749 per year per store. By unmanning a self-service checkout using one of our call points, you can save £702 per week per store, or £36,504 per year per store.
As we enter another period of uncertainty, the importance of colleague morale cannot be overstated. As well as prioritising customer service in the post-COVID world, it is also essential to make colleagues feel safe and valued.
In our recent survey of retail colleagues, 50% said that the biggest challenge they faced was maintaining social distancing. Our headsets solve this problem by enabling colleagues to communicate while keeping their distance. Vocovo also empowers colleagues by allowing them to work more flexibly, again increasing morale.