The COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for retail, and one that is likely to have long-term effects is to persuade consumers to return to stores. Concerns over the potential for infection have left many consumers feeling uncomfortable in stores. Retailers must take meaningful steps to earn the trust of patrons whose values and behavior have changed.
Curbside pickup and home delivery have become preferred practices and are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. However, retailers have an interest in getting customers through the door since both approaches pose some limitations. Neither allows for impulse buying or picking up additional items.
To succeed in drawing customers inside, retailers must reassure them that stores have been properly disinfected and observe social distancing guidelines. The Store of the Future is inviting to patrons not so much for its stock and promotions but for providing a safe, clean place where people can shop without worrying about getting sick. Retailers that create the right atmosphere stand a better chance of thriving in a post-pandemic world.
STRIKING THE RIGHT TONE
Retailers traditionally have employed various methods to increase foot traffic, with advertising as the primary go-to. Promotions, blowout prices, and new products have proven effective in drawing customers. Also important are layout, product displays, and signage – each plays a role in how long people remain in the store and how much they spend.
However, COVID-19 has reshuffled priorities. While in the past patrons wouldn’t have thought twice about lingering at a store to browse, now they may be more interested in making a quick stop to pick up what they need, pay for it, and leave. Eye-catching displays and promotions may still work but probably not as effectively as they did in pre-pandemic days.