According to the current timetable, all non-essential stores will be allowed to open from the 12th April. This will come as a relief to business owners everywhere, but there are challenges ahead. Reopening stores is one thing, but how can you be sure that customer footfall will return?
A concern for many retailers is the recent boom in eCommerce. UK online retail sales were 74% higher in January 2021 than they had been 12 months earlier. A study by Retail Economics found that almost half of UK consumers bought a product online during the pandemic that they had previously only bought in store.
The big question is whether these changes are temporary or permanent. So we decided to survey UK and US consumers about their future shopping plans, and the results show that there’s plenty of life in the high street yet:
- 57% of shoppers are still confident in physical retail.
- Only 36% of consumers expect their long term shopping habits to change.
- 16% are looking forward to shopping socially with friends and family.
What do customers want?
Customers are keen to return to the high street, but that doesn’t guarantee sales. Half of the customers we spoke to said their brand loyalties changed during the pandemic, and only one in five are sure that they will go back to their usual stores.
This means that we can’t rely on old customers returning out of habit. On the other hand, it also means that a whole new batch of customers is up for grabs. In order to make the most of this situation, retailers will have to find new ways to make stores attractive. We wanted to give you a helping hand, so we asked customers what it would take to win them back.
Join Aaron Copestake and Lee Spicer on our April Retail Webinar, where they will be taking a deep dive into our new retail research report ‘Retail Reunited’.
1. Better deals
Unsurprisingly, value for money remains a top priority for customers. 38% said that they would be more likely to return to stores that offered competitive prices. Research shows that shoppers from lower income households are far more likely to return to the high street, so keeping your prices low will be vital.
While VoCoVo can’t help you to lower your prices directly, we can save you money in other areas.
- Headsets improve task efficiency by allowing colleagues to answer questions and share information without stopping their work. By saving 105 minutes a day on task efficiency, you can save £111 per week per store.
- Call Points allow you to unman Click & Collect and customer service desks. Removing one colleague from these areas can save you £594 per week per store.
At this rate, VoCoVo will pay for itself in a matter of weeks. As these savings add up, you will be able to pass them onto the customer in the form of lower prices.
2. Faster service
Even after the pandemic has passed, many customers will remain wary of crowded spaces. 30% of UK shoppers are making an effort to spend less time in essential stores, and this behaviour is likely to continue when non-essential stores reopen. Our survey found that 25% of customers will only return to stores if they offer faster service. Luckily for you, this is what VoCoVo does best:
- Call Points allow customers to ask for help without queueing or tracking down a colleague.
- Headsets let you authorise self-service purchases from anywhere in sight of the checkout.
- Keypads allow checkout colleagues to call for assistance without leaving their position.
3. Easier access to information
The modern customer has a world of information at their fingertips. Customers are better informed than ever, and they expect the same from colleagues. 82% of customers feel that they sometimes know more than colleagues, and 20% will only return to stores that offer instant access to product information and stock levels. Once again, VoCoVo can help:
- Headsets allow colleagues to find information without having to seek out another colleague.
- Colleagues can contact the stock room for immediate updates on stock levels.
- Our conference feature allows you to set up separate channels for specific areas of knowledge. Colleagues can dial into the relevant channel and find the necessary information more quickly.
The pandemic has transformed the retail landscape, but change isn’t always a bad thing. For those who are willing to adapt, there are plenty of opportunities on the horizon.