Has Covid-19 transformed customer expectations of in-store experience?

Article by Martyn Jones | 15th December 2020

COVID-19 caused a seismic shift in consumer attitudes. Where customers once prized value for money, they now shop with safety in mind. 

Pre COVID-19: Price sensitivity

Between 2008 and 2009 the UK suffered its deepest recession since the 1940’s. 800,000 businesses collapsed and unemployment hit 8.3%. The effects of this were felt throughout the 2010s, with low interest rates and slow economic growth.  

With less money in their pockets, consumers became price-conscious.  Brexit added further uncertainty, causing a third of UK shoppers to spend less. Visiting multiple stores in order to get the best deal was common; a 2017 survey found that 76% of consumers were spreading their grocery shopping across two or more shops. 

Price sensitivity was enabled by the growth of the internet. Consumers have the power to research competitors’ prices and take their business elsewhere. 85% of consumers used a price comparison website in 2017, and 69% of smartphone owners researched products online before making a purchase in store. 

Post-COVID: Safety and efficiency

The COVID-19 outbreak caused a huge shift in consumer priorities. While price is still a factor, consumers now value safety and efficiency above all else.  

Customers feel exposed when they go shopping.  55% of UK shoppers are concerned that they will catch COVID-19 while visiting a store, and 31% are making an active effort to spend less time shopping. This has led to a huge increase in the use of Click & Collect and other BOPIS (Buy Online, Pay In Store) options. 44% of consumers have significantly increased their use of Click & Collect, and 78% of these customers plan to continue doing so after the pandemic is over. 

Customers also want to minimise contact with colleagues and other customers. This concern has manifested itself in a newfound preference for self-service checkouts. The use of self-service increased by 9% in May 2020, and 74% of these new users plan to continue in the long-term.  Even Aldi introduced self-service checkouts, something it had long resisted doing.

There is also an emotional element to these new customer behaviours. Customers are worried and are looking for reassurance from the stores they visit. A worldwide survey found that 75% of consumers are choosing where they shop based on visible safety precautions. Customers also favour stores that prioritise employee safety, with 62% citing this as a major consideration

Technology that supports customer safety

Customer expectations will be shaped by the COVID-19 outbreak for a long time to come. The ideal customer experience will minimise both the amount of time spent in store, and the amount of face to face contact.  Customers will be looking for reassurance, so visible safety precautions are also important.

Keep colleagues connected

Not only are customers keen to keep their distance from one another- they want to see colleagues making an effort to do the same. VoCoVo headsets allow colleagues to communicate easily from a safe distance. Our technology provides crystal clear, two-way communication that feels as natural as a face to face conversation. 

Customers will also favour stores who keep up with the latest safety regulations. Our message casting feature allows HQ to send simultaneous updates to all stores, keeping everyone on the same page and providing peace of mind for customers.

Empower customer conversations

Many customers have turned to Click & Collect as a way to reduce the amount of time they spend in store. Our Call Points can be placed on Click & Collect desks, helping you streamline the process. Customers can call for assistance as soon as they arrive, colleagues will be notified via their headsets, and can call through to the stockroom to check if the order is ready. 

Winning future loyalty

We know how hard our retail customers work to keep colleagues and customers happy. That’s why our technology is designed to support connection and colleague wellbeing at work, even during tough times.

We’re extremely proud of the work our customers do, and want to help support better long-term relationships with consumers. 

Talk to us today about adapting to customer needs

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