Welcome to “Restructuring the Retail Experience,” Teleperformance’s latest three-part series of articles that explores the many trends and changes the retail industry in the United States has been implementing, as the world slowly adapts to a post-COVID-19 environment.
As head of the Customer Experience Lab, I am naturally curious about consumer behavior and how that links with our behavior research across various sectors. One way to improve our understanding is to put ourselves in shoes of consumers interacting with companies and then explore the big picture regarding upcoming trends. With this objective, let’s continue our journey exploring latest observations regarding changes currently seen in the retail industry in the United States.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the last installment of Restructuring the Retail Experience! Previously, we explored how the current state of retail is collaborating with digital technology, and how businesses in the industry have adapted their business mindset to embrace digital innovation in order to keep up with today’s challenging times. Today, I will share a few of my experiences and general observations on retail before wrapping up the series. Here we go!
Stop and smell the roses… or rather, get used to the smell of “safety”: One thing that I’ve noticed is the way smell is changing around me, particularly in stores. Before the pandemic, I am typically used to a store’s “signature smell,” or a scent that aims to entice customers to stay longer, buy, and come back as part of enhancing the customer experience. Now, what gets consumers to overcome their FOGO (fear of going out) and create FOMO (fear of missing out) is the nice smell of disinfectant wipes and clean environments. Today, safety has become more important--and if customers have learned and have chosen to associate the smell of cleaning products with the feeling of security in their surroundings, then so be it! I particularly like the aroma of “Eau de Clorox” as it is a statement of cleanliness.
Safety remains the utmost priority: Cleanliness, sanitizing, PPEs, and dividers are now part of physical stores. Taglines will change to convey that shopping physically is safe again.
The great move outdoors: In an effort to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, many stores and restaurants have moved part of their business outside. Drive-thrus, deliveries, store pick-ups, and reservations are now experiencing growth.
Drive-thru/deliver everything: Who would have thought that drive-in movies would make a huge comeback! Or that I would pick up school supplies in a drive-thru? And that restaurants or shops would offer to-go orders or curbside pick-ups! Nowadays, ordering online makes everything bearable (and attainable); you can purchase what you need, and schedule your grocery delivery. Or you can drive up to a store, and have an employee put the items you purchased in the trunk of your car. There are a couple of companies that are leading the charge - --quite rapidly—of the delivery model.
A restaurant in Atlanta taking to-go orders (Credit: The Atlantic)
Instant delivery takes too long: One downside to a “deliver everything” environment: given the limited inventory and less SKUs, customers who are used to receiving online orders promptly will now need to adapt and adjust their expectations. As a customer, sometimes the “needs vs. must” situation comes into play--right now, there is the need to decide which products are more important to have delivered immediately, and which items can be put off to be delivered for another day.
Less dine-in: As more and more restaurants have pivoted to operating their businesses strictly through drive-thrus, deliveries, or pick-ups, the option to dine-in has taken a beating. As a result, dining options will be revamped. I never thought that home cooking or food delivery kits would see such a rebirth! I saw an article saying that there will be lots of “Rs” going forward: reduction, repurpose, restructure, rewards, renovate, relocate, and reconnect.
Aud lang syne/Farewell: There are a few pockets of resiliency that can still be witnessed, and some brands would be able to reinvent themselves despite an ongoing battle with a global health pandemic. However, some sights can be saddening--every time I drive around, I see “going out of business” signs for some iconic brands, both big stores and local ones. It’s a hard reality, seeing how retailers are experiencing an extinction-level event. Feels eerie to see so many empty shops.
Everything must go. (Photo Credit: CNBC)
It was a pleasure sharing all these insights about the current state of retail with you! Join me next time as I continue to explore the highs (and lows) of the customer experience. For now, you may go ahead and explore the CX Lab’s range of white papers on how to redefine the customer experience for a post-COVID19 world. Download the white paper here.