The Future is Now: How Retailers Can Adapt to Changing Consumer Behaviors

Christine Antonelli
Sep 18, 2020 3:30:00 PM

If you think back to what feels like the distant past of 2018 and 2019, terms like "contactless delivery" and the prospect of systemic changes to the way people shop seemed like a long-term trend that retailers would be wise to plan around. 

 

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, and everything changed. Suddenly, all of the long-term trends the industry had been contemplating were accelerated, and retailers found themselves forced to act. Convenience was no longer a luxury.

 

Gimmicks No More  

While ideas like on-demand delivery, contactless pickup, and drive-up shopping are not new, they've evolved from gimmick to necessity over the past six months. 

 

Historically for the retail industry, any initiative aimed at introducing and refining alternative shopping methods has been viewed as an expensive experiment at best and a distraction at worst. 

 

Perhaps this is why focused online retailers were able to slip in and realign consumer expectations regarding shipping and delivery in such a short time.

 

All of this has changed, and retailers would be wise to recognize that while COVID-19 will eventually go away, the shift in consumer behavior will not. 

 

Convenience & Availability Above All Else 

The pandemic forced retailers to prioritize delivery, drive-up, and order-ahead options out of necessity. These options placed the burden on the retailer because consumers were, in many cases, prohibited from entering facilities. 

 

This forcing function opened consumers' eyes to the increased convenience, and now that the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, there's no going back. 

 

Take delivery, for example. According to QSR Magazine, online food delivery revenue is projected to balloon from $18 billion in 2019 to $24 billion by 2023. 

 

Retailers must prepare for this new normal and invest in the processes, partners, and technologies that will support them going forward.

Playing Data Catch-Up 

The rapid adoption of new convenience channels and the introduction of third-party support providers has left a lot of retailers without the data needed to refine these practices.

 

When third party delivery systems are involved, its even harder for retailers to learn from their customers. Third parties (like DoorDash and Uber Eats) actually collect the data, leaving the retailers without the core insight or the means to communicate with their buyers.

 

Of course, it's easy to sing the virtues of data analytics. Collecting, organizing, and acting on those insights is more complicated. Retailers will have to revisit their entire technology infrastructure and implement processes and procedures that make this data collection seamless and actionable.

 

Strategic support partners will undoubtedly play a large role in this process, easing the friction points of implementing and operating these systems.

With strong professional support and guidance, retailers will adjust to the next phase of our "new normal," placing consumer convenience at the forefront of their offering and evolving along with consumer needs. 

 

We find ourselves at an inflection point in the industry. Those organizations that recognize the opportunity in front of them and act accordingly will not only survive but thrive in this new environment. 

 

Summary

  • Retailers have had to offer increasingly convenient options for consumers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • These new offerings, such as contactless delivery, drive-through pickup, and order ahead capability are here to stay.
  • Consumers now prioritize convenience and availability above all else.
  • Retailers will need a new focus on data insights and analytics in order to remain relevant in these changing times.

About the Author - Chris Antonelli

Picture of Christine Antonelli

As Solugenix VP of Customer Experience and Support Services, Chris Antonelli manages the delivery of customer support services and customer experience initiatives for clients in the retail and financial services industries. Chris leverages two decades of experience in leadership roles where she has guided best-in-class customer support service solutions to global brands like McDonald’s, BMW, Citibank, Sonic Drive-In, and Jiffy Lube. As an Executive Council member for Ellevate Network, Chris is dedicated to the professional development of women in the workforce and ardent supporter of remote workforce development.

Connect with Chris Antonelli on: LinkedIn

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