The US economy has been devastated due to COVID-19, where over 316 million people in 42 states were required to stay home to minimize the spread of the virus. As a result, current customer behaviors and shopping trends are emerging, reflecting a vastly changing retail landscape. Consumers are continuing to be impacted by the aftereffects of the pandemic, and business models will need to transform to accommodate a post-COVID-19 reality.
Today, many businesses are observing what impact COVID-19 is having on sales. It is apparent that there will be a digital shift in the marketplace. Companies may need to change their operations by redirecting more of their business online.
Businesses that are flexible enough to respond to consumer trends will be best able to transition their operations in the post coronavirus market. The economy is slowly beginning to reopen and forward-thinking companies will need to position themselves to capture consumers’ spending patterns now and in the future.
There are several businesses that have continued to operate throughout these uncertain times, and their approaches will serve as models moving forward. Data analyst App Annie reported that Walmart had an increase in sales in March as people stocked up on necessities — as well as a dramatic uptick in monthly use of its online grocery app. In addition, Lululemon Athletica has repurposed several North American stores (temporarily closed during the stay-at-home directive) to stockpile inventory in order to more rapidly fill online orders.
This demonstrates how important the coordination of stores and shopping technology has become to the vitality of these businesses. “The retailers that were already doing it successfully are the ones that are going to recover much more quickly,” says Kimberly Becker, senior research director with Gartner. “And in a future when shoppers may be hesitant about staying in the store for long—if they actually do return in person—only the tech-savvy businesses will continue to operate”.
Consumers throughout the US have revised their spending habits and have reduced their non-essential purchasing due to uncertainty over when and if they will return to work, and whether their income will remain the same.
Research conducted by Gordon Hasket, stated that one-third of shoppers bought staples online during the initial phase of pandemic shopping (week ending March 13). Many shoppers stated that it was their first time, and more than half of first-time orders were purchased from Walmart. Walmart initiated their digital marketplace pick-up and tech improvements prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
Shoppers who have begun ordering their groceries and meals online might discover that they enjoy the convenience. As they become more comfortable with digital options, they may not return to their previous shopping patterns.
Businesses that can provide for customer’s basic daily necessities are continuing to succeed. According to Google Analytics, online sales of products that enable us to maintain our lifestyles are continuing to rise dramatically.
The path forward after COVID-19
Retail needs to provide a seamless experience for shoppers to navigate new technology, with special attention being paid to items that are out-of-stock or have delivery delays.
A vast number of consumers are opting for quicker and easier online experiences, presenting a challenge for many retailers. Many are facilitating access and simplifying the process of online shopping to encourage more frequent visits. After the COVID-19 virus has been contained, customers’ shopping habits will fundamentally overhaul the retail marketplace and the way business is done for years to come.
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