The past few months have been tough for everyone, irrespective of nationality, class, profession or age. It’s not often you could say that with much conviction, but the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed all of our lives.
Most countries are now hitting the tail-end of lockdown, and life is creeping back towards normality. But the new normal will be different to the old normal.
The long term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be clear for a while, but we’re already starting to see changes.
There's been a widespread shift in shopping habits as lockdown measures have forced shops to close and shoppers to socially distance. As a result, both have gone increasingly digital.
This has driven a surge in ‘buy online, pickup at curbside’ (BOPAC) purchases.
Social distancing measures have stopped shoppers from entering stores.
To get around this, many businesses have started taking pre-purchased items out to customers as they wait in their cars.
While the BOPAC solution isn’t relevant in most circumstances, it has proven especially popular with large shops and vendors in shopping malls. But it’s not just retailers who are fans of BOPAC as away to continue selling during lockdown.
In April, a CommerceHub survey found that 59% of shoppers would continue using BOPAC after lockdown restrictions have been eased.
Similar to BOPAC, ‘buy online, pickup at store’ has been a popular shopping option for a while now. Lockdowns have driven the process one step further, effectively removing the need for stores altogether. With many shops having sat as little more than expensive stock rooms over recent months, a continued shift towards online shopping could result in widespread store closures.
This potential shift away from physical retail spaces is bad news for industries which rely on face-to-face customer interaction.
But it's not bad news for everyone.
Figures from China reveal that some businesses enjoyed a remarkable post-lockdown sales spike.
Luxury brand Hermès, for example, took $2.7 million in sales on the reopening day of its Guangzhou flagship store back in April.
Then there's the food delivery industry, which many expect to be one of the big winners going forward.
Customers who wouldn’t usually order takeaway haven’t had many other options during lockdown. Meanwhile, restaurants which may have previously shied away from delivery have had to reconsider where the value in their business really lies - the food or the in-house dining experience?
While the COVID-19 pandemic is driving a surge in online shopping, it hasn’t come out of the blue.
There’s been a widespread digital transition taking place for years now.
Many smaller retailers and other businesses already have much of the necessary infrastructure (websites, distributors, etc.) in place to sell their products online. This means they’ve been able to handle lockdown, at least from a logistical perspective.
Consumers will likely stick with many of the shopping habits they’ve picked up during the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s up to businesses to respond accordingly.
The majority can now sell online, so it will take more to stand out from the crowd. One of the easiest and most effective ways to make an impression with potential and returning customers is interesting, eye-catching promotions.
As long as you have the right back-end solution in place, creativity is the only limiting factor in terms of the digital promotions you can and can't offer.