Browse online, or shop in-store? Post-COVID-19 consumers have responded, and the results are loud and clear: both.
In 2022, shoppers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores while maintaining the online browsing habits they developed during lockdowns. Year-over-year e-commerce growth was 27% in March of 2022, but in-store spending is recovering nicely, with an 8% year-over-year growth in a similar time frame.
The Importance of Omnichannel
With the return of in-store shopping and the rise of e-commerce, providing an omnichannel retail experience is now imperative for companies that want to build loyalty with existing customers and develop it with new ones.
- 75% of US customers attest to shopping both online and in-stores for a broad range of products, including food. (McKinsey)
- 45% say that social media influences their purchases, with 10% of omnichannel shoppers reporting that they have purchased directly through social media. (McKinsey)
- In 2021, US merchants recorded a record $870.8 billion in online sales, an increase of 14.2% compared to the year prior. (Microsoft)
Trading loyalty for value, convenience, and sustainability
In 2022, consumers are willing to abandon their once-preferred brands in favor of ones that align better to their values and needs. Social values, pricing, and convenience remain some of the biggest factors in brand and purchasing decisions.
- 80% of consumers say they have new shopping behaviors due to the pandemic. (McKinsey)
- More US consumers switched brands in 2022 than in 2021 or 2020; around 90% plan to continue doing so. (McKinsey)
- 40% of consumers said that a company taking a strong stance in a public and visible way on social issues is important to their purchasing decisions. (McKinsey)
- 50% of online consumers say they regularly buy from brands or companies that align with their personal values. (Forrester)
- Two-thirds of younger survey responders said at least one aspect of a company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) plan was an influencing factor in their decision to buy a brand. (McKinsey)
- 15% of US consumers tried grocery delivery for the first time during the pandemic; among those, 70% found it enjoyable, and 40% intend to continue grocery shopping delivery. (McKinsey)
- 90% of online consumers now expect free shipments to arrive within two or three days. (Wix eCommerce)
The Role of Employee Experience
The Great Resignation is ongoing, and hiring competition is fiercer than ever. As more tasks are automated in-store, there are more and more opportunities to reserve human talent for nuanced customer interactions. Retailers will have to be creative to hire and retain talented employees who can improve customer experience, in-store and online.
- Retail job vacancies in the United States rose from about 446,000 in April 2020 to more than a million in December 2021. (McKinsey)
- Employee satisfaction drives revenue: a study showed that an average store that vastly improved employee experience in four different metrics could increase their revenue by over 50%. (Harvard Business Review)
- By 2024, organizations providing a total experience will outperform competitors by 25% in satisfaction metrics for both customer experience and employee experience. (Gartner)
- 57% of customer-facing employees don’t feel like they are currently set up to succeed in their customer interactions. (Gartner)
- In a poll, 66% of customer facing employees agreed with the statement “the easier it is to do my job, the easier it is to provide customers with a good experience.” (Gartner)
- However, nearly the same amount (64%) agreed that “unnecessary effort caused by their company prevents them from delivering a higher-quality customer experience.” (Gartner)
- Happy employees are more productive—according to a study by economists from the University of Warwick, at least 12% more. (Warwick University)
With so many consumers willing to abandon old loyalties and try out new products, the current market holds many opportunities for retailers to attract new customers—provided they are willing to improve their omnichannel experience, take a moral stand, increase convenience, or supply customers with a novel experience.