Consumer-facing businesses will need to be agile and respond quickly to change to be successful in the post-pandemic economy: PwC
WHEN IT COMES to retail shopping, the post-pandemic world is sure to look and function a lot differently than pre-Covid, as the behaviour of both shoppers and retailers having changed dramatically over the course of the pandemic.
The recently released Canadian Consumer Index 2021 survey, conducted by PwC Canada, found that consumer preferences and habits have changed, which is contributing to the evolution of retail strategies for businesses.
“As vaccination campaigns gain momentum, consumers and retailers are beginning to look beyond the pandemic. While some aspects of life may go back to normal, other trends that have emerged and strengthened over the last year will persist,” the report reads. “We’re in a period of significant upheaval. Consumer-facing companies will need to be agile and respond quickly to change to be successful in this dynamic environment.”
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The most recent data found, for instance, that the majority of consumers say they are doing more of their shopping in one trip, “putting a pause on the previously popular microtrips.” Forty-one per cent of shoppers have shifted their purchases to local, indie retailers, while 38 per cent are sticking with the big-box stores.
Aimed primarily at retailers hoping to adapt to the post-pandemic economy, the report keyed in on a few key recommendations for businesses:
Reinventing business models
Where businesses find their customers is changing. With many shoppers avoiding stores altogether for things like fashion and electronics — where more than half say they are shopping in-store less, or not at all — entire business models will need to adapt, the report found. Businesses hoping to win in the post-pandemic economy should prioritize resilience and broaden their horizons, PwC found.
“Winners will be those that understand how to make the digital experience seamless with the physical,” the report reads. “They’ll be those that develop alternative ways of fulfilling customer needs and take advantage of quickly changing customer preferences and behaviours.”
E-commerce, the kingmaker
No avoiding this one: online shopping, already on the rise prior to 2020, shot off like a rocket last year. Customers have grown accustomed to it, and it is influencing their priorities in-store, too.
Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed said knowing what’s in stock is a priority, as is fast delivery (61 per cent) and a flexible return policy (54 per cent). But 51 per cent of Canadians say they are concerned about how their data is being used when shopping online, suggesting that retailers will need to be mindful of how they build out their e-commerce options.
The conscious consumer is here to stay
More and more consumers want to be able to make socially and environmentally conscious shopping decisions now, with 49 per cent saying they buy from companies supportive of environmental measures and 48 per cent responding that they are already buying more eco-friendly products.
Consumers are also willing to pay a premium for these, suggesting that when it comes to costs, the race to the bottom on price is giving way to a more holistic view that weighs environmental and social issues alongside value.
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“For many people, it’s not just about the product and sourcing, but also about the organization as a whole,” the report says. “Consumers want to know their dollars are going toward retailers that are committed to and able to report on being environmentally sustainable and socially conscious.”
In addition, consumers want products that aren’t just eco-friendly, but also cruelty-free and free of forced labour, among other ethical considerations. Some companies are looking to deploy blockchain to track and get full transparency into their supply chains to confirm their goods are conflict-free. Digital tools such as QR codes on products can then help retailers share their story with customers. Kieran Delamont