3 / 04.06.2021

Customer Experience and the Future of Retail

It’s clear that the pandemic has brought changes and challenges to almost every industry. It’s made businesses take stock of how they operate – re-examine their business models and revenue streams while forcing them to look with fresh eyes on things that had previously been taken for granted. 

Of course, retail is no exception. As brands look to map paths forward in this new, post-COVID-19 landscape, they need to remain agile, adaptable, and continually assess what’s working and what’s not. 

Prioritise Customer Experience

Many brands turned to digital channels throughout 2020, and rightly so. It’s clear that the COVID-19 shutdowns caused an acceleration in ecommerce (as reported by Australia Post among many others). Indeed, Channel Advisor has reported that now 46% of consumers shop online more frequently than they did pre COVID-19, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

While there’s no doubt that digital channels are an integral part of any comprehensive marketing strategy, the physical retail landscape isn’t dying – it’s evolving.  

Physical retail will remain an important cornerstone of commerce for all major brands. And while a store’s original purpose of product discovery and browsing will likely remain, retailers not only need to develop strategies that enable consumers to do this comfortably and independently — consumer experience will become central to success.

Captivate and convert

An emphasis on immersive experiences, in conjunction with contactless purchase capabilities, creates a compelling proposition for consumers — enabling them to ‘experience’ the product firsthand before making a purchase, all while minimising contact. Stores adopting this model will serve as destinations in themselves and will create their own captive markets instore. 

Retailers can create this elevated brick-and-mortar experience by rethinking their physical and digital displays and incorporating new, immersive elements. For example, interactive displays instore that complement store windows and digital displays provide a level of immersion that can’t be experienced online. This delivers a more memorable physical experience while providing continuity with digital marketing efforts, increasing conversions both instore and online, post store visit.

There’s no question that consumer desires and expectations are changing, and with them the entire landscape of physical retail. It’s our job as the industry to remain agile – innovate, measure, iterate and repeat. We need to understand what our customers want and provide memorable experiences that exceed their expectations. 

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