3 ways to motivate customers to return to shopping in-store post-pandemic

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

How addressing consumers’ safety concerns with appointment scheduling, in-store digitisation and vaccine monitoring could encourage the return of footfall. 

 

What do customers want from an in-store experience? Face-to-face customer service? A personalised fitting? The tangible reality of feeling the fabric, scrolling the new smartphone or trying on the ring? Every customer is different, but since the pandemic struck and physical retail traffic plummeted, in-store preferences have been overshadowed by one major concern: safety. 

 

In Qudini’s October 2020 survey, four in five US consumers (81%) cited safety as their main reason for not visiting stores with others not wearing masks (56%), the proximity of other people (55%), touching previously-touched products (45%) and having to queue inside and outside stores (24%) some of the principal reasons. For brands looking to encourage the return of footfall, addressing these safety concerns is a logical first step. Here’s how, using insights from Qudini’s recent summer 2021 survey which shows how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits and the demand for appointment scheduling with in different retail store types.

 

 

 

Motivating cautious customers to return to stores

After 17 months of stay-at-home orders and movement restrictions, people want to get back to ‘normality’ and for many that means shopping in-store. Our latest consumer survey, conducted in May 2021, found that younger shoppers are the most interested in returning to physical stores with Generation Z (44%) twice as likely to return to non-essential stores than baby boomers (22%). However, with nearly half (46%) of consumers that believe in Covid-19 still concerned about shopping in stores and almost a third (29%) expecting to be concerned for the next 1-5 years, retailers should consider introducing measures to encourage in-store traffic. 

 

 

Vaccine passports. Of the three-quarters (74%) of US consumers who believe Covid-19 is real, one quarter (26%) would feel happier visiting stores with a vaccine monitoring system, like vaccine passports. However, this applies to some industries more than others. For example, while only a fifth of consumers think vaccine passports are necessary for banks and essential retail, 37% think that vaccine passports should be mandatory for airlines and transport companies, while other businesses that involve direct physical contact – such as restaurants (30%) and beauty salons (26%) – should also consider a degree of vaccine monitoring. 

 

 

 

Appointment scheduling. Pre-pandemic, a 2018 study found US retailers missing out on $37.7 billion of potential sales due to long checkout lines and Covid-19 has made the eradication of queues even more pressing. That’s because 42% of consumers are more likely to avoid queuing during the pandemic and 36% expect to be more worried about queuing post-pandemic than before. Given our 2020 survey found over half (53%) of consumers are likely to walk out of stores because of queuing, retailers should consider appointment scheduling as a means of minimising waiting friction. Our survey found that, when compared to pre-pandemic, 48% of consumers were more likely to want to schedule appointments in retail stores during the pandemic. 43% still said that after the pandemic they would still be more likely to want to schedule appointments in retail stores than before the pandemic. Appointments for in-store services were most popular, followed by virtual appointments for service and then appointments to visit stores to browse.

 

 

In-store digitisation. To counter the simplicity of online shopping, technology should be deployed as the differentiator between ‘buying products’ and ‘in-store experience’. During the pandemic, tech to reduce wait times and book appointments (40%) were extremely popular, and retailers should also consider contactless payments, auto-checkout and a mobile app for booking in-store customer service, browsing product inventories and arranging curbside pick-up. Retailers that best replicate the speed and ease of online shopping with tangible physical extras look set to reap the most benefits. 

 

Stand out from the crowd

With social distancing measures and hand sanitizer now expected as a minimum, retailers need to do more to stand out and attract in-store footfall. While not all brands can raise their prices to encourage sales like luxury goods, most can improve their safety features to encourage people to leave their homes. From personalizing the experience by minimising the number of store guests at one time to offering exclusive in-store experiences, the retailers that go above and beyond should bounce back fastest. 

 

 

To find out more…

 

To find out more, download the full report on how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits here:

https://www.qudini.com/resource_whitepapers/consumer-shopping-habits-during-and-after-the-pandemic/

 

Meanwhile, to learn about consumer demand for appointment scheduling in your industry, click here:

https://www.qudini.com/pages/appointment-scheduling-survey-may-202

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