As part of our recurring #ShiftHappens series, we surveyed top retail executives and industry thought leaders to help identify the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed today’s retail consumer.
In this month’s release, we share findings from our Shift Happens: Aug 2020 survey as well as key insights from:
Sabrina Cherubini, VP Marketing, Customer Strategy at Ann Inc.
Annemarie Dillard Jazic, VP of Online Experience & Marketing at Dillard’s
Alex Genov, Head of Consumer Research at Zappos
Courtney Hawkins, Retail Advisor; Former VP of Stores at Old Navy
Miya Knights, Head of Industry Insight at Eagle Eye Solutions
Frederick Lecoq, Chief Marketing Officer of Golf Town
Christopher Melillo, SVP of Retail at Curaleaf
Emily Pfeiffer, Senior Analyst, Commerce Technology at Forrester
Phillip Raub, Founder of b8ta
Josh Shabtai, Sr. Director of Ecosystem at Lowe’s Innovation Labs
Barkha Saxena, Chief Data Officer of Poshmark
Christopher Silver, Global VP of Brand Technology at MAC Cosmetics
In our Shift Happens: August 2020 Survey, we asked retail participants to identify which consumer trends were most likely to last post-pandemic. An astounding 94% of retailers revealed they are betting big on BOPIS and curbside pickup, and another 83% determined e-commerce sales growth would become a solidified consumer trend.
“The pandemic has reinforced the need for retailers to have robust online operations, particularly when it comes to product availability, true and seamless omnichannel, and flexible fulfillment solutions.”
“Of all fulfillment options available, consumers say that curbside is the #1 option they hope to continue using. And it took a pandemic to make it happen.”
“The entire way we did retail was reinvented. We had to quickly roll out new technologies. We had to enhance our website, our bandwidth, and our ability to communicate with our customers at a distance. We implemented curbside pickup, new delivery options, and solutions like handheld ATM machines to reduce physical interactions.”
For many retailers, investments in customer-facing technologies are increasing with rising e-commerce. When asked if investments in customer-facing technologies should take higher priority than marketing and advertising technologies, nearly half of our Shift Happens: August 2020 surveyed retailers agreed.
“We need investment in customer-centric technologies where the best interest of customers is balanced with a short term, quarter-to-quarter, focus on financials. Customer centricity pays off in the longer term but is more sustainable and cheaper, again in the long run.”
Annemarie Dillard Jazic:
“I think both are equally important. The key is balance and thinking strategically. What technologies can you implement quickly that customers need now and what should you invest in that might sustain in the long term? You don’t want to invest in a customer-facing technology that will be irrelevant should the virus subside, but you do want to invest in technologies that will retain their demand in the longer term.
Likewise, marketing and advertising technologies that can drive sales and optimize the return on ad spend are crucial right now and there is real opportunity to take advantage of a favorable landscape to grab market share,” Annemarie Dillard Jazic.
“A big part of what we were seeing over the past few months is your average customer may not be as comfortable having someone they don’t know come to their home. With that in mind, we launched Lowe’s for Pros JobSIGHT, which is an augmented video chat tool that lets pros conduct remote home visits with a series of tools that almost makes it like they were there. So we are looking for opportunities to rethink and deliver on what customers truly need.”
“In the end, retail is about serving and delighting the customer. If retailers can improve on that, ROI from their investment in marketing/advertising will also see a boost.”
“For retailers, I think the most important thing is to determine how we can set ourselves up to be more personalized, more dynamic, and to use intelligence technology, not for creating a sale, but to create a better relationship with the consumer.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 5 consumers purchased a subscription box, according to survey findings reported by Forbes. What’s more, the report found as many as 75% of DTC brands plan to have a subscription-based offering by 2023.
In our Shift Happens: August 2020 Survey, we asked top retailers if their company had yet explored subscription-based offerings — 59% revealed they had.
“We launched our subscription-based program in 2019 and it has overpassed our projections. I am convinced that rental in apparel will become an amazing new way to engage with your favorite brand and bring the joy of shopping right into your house.”
“The rise of subscription loyalty demonstrates that points no longer mean prizes with traditional loyalty schemes. Consumers are looking for more relevance, value and utility from retailers they have an ongoing engagement with.”
Traditional loyalty mechanics are being replaced by schemes that help retailers grow brand affinity with their customers. In turn, brands can leverage this affinity to drive increased transactional sales and/or frequency on top of the recurring revenue gains,” Miya Knights.
“Subscription services weren’t necessarily successful in traditional retailers. I could see apparel retailers trying this again but it would look different: meaning apparel retailers create partnership subscriptions that would offer a compliment to traditional product.”
When asked to what extent is sustainability a current priority for their company, 55% of our Shift Happens: August 2020 Survey participants said sustainability is a “moderate” to “essential” focus within their retail company.
“Sustainability is table stakes. You must be doing something about it. How far you go and how you message it, is where the goals and values of the brand come in.”
“Sustainability should be considered when thinking of the entire life cycle of the product. Retailers are starting to make changes in regards to shipping and how the product is made; albeit it should be faster. What we aren’t hearing much about is once the garment is purchased, what happens?
Landfills are filling up with product and I think the next problem to be solved is for retailers to make it easier to recycle used goods. I could envision a loyalty program built around recycling end of life product,” Courtney Hawkins.
“Over the last five months, people have consumed less and realized that their happiness isn’t predicated on material possessions as much as it is hanging with family, missing friends, craving in-person dialogue with colleagues, and being around nature. As a result, there is, and will continue to be, a large shift in consumer shopping behavior around spending less and consuming goods from companies that have genuine missions supporting sustainable causes.”