To say 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement. People lost the ability to sit for hours in cute cafes, visit their friends and family, and leisurely browse through brick-and-mortar stores.
And people missed it. One study reported that 91% of shoppers said they missed shopping in stores during the pandemic.
But as the world is opening up again, people are starting to feel more comfortable venturing outside and back into stores. They aren’t coming back to stores with changed expectations, though—some new-normal habits born out of the pandemic are here to stay.
- 87% of consumers said they prefer shopping in stores that have touchless or robust self-checkout options
- 80% of consumers feel reassured by seeing the new safety measures inside their favorite stores
- Personalization is more important than ever in a post-pandemic world as Gartner found poor personalization efforts cost companies 38% of customers
With all these post-pandemic changes, it begs the following question: how are retailers evolving?
How are retailers evolving post-pandemic?
1. More and more brands are flocking outside & building communities
Let’s first look at the influx of outdoor stores in Boulder, Colorado. Black Diamond Equipment, Stio, and Backcountry have opened stores, joining Patagonia, The North Face, Montbell, and others. Boulder has become a hotbed for branded outdoor retail.
Why the sudden rise in physical outdoor businesses?
One of the primary reasons is that more people are looking for escapes and vacations nearby as COVID restrictions ease.
But another reason is these outdoor businesses foster a sense of community that consumers crave.
Recent stats show that 80% of consumers feel more or as connected to their communities with the COVID-19 outbreak and 88% expect these connections to last long after the pandemic.
2. Retailers are tuned into providing top-notch customer experiences
If there’s one thing 2020 taught companies, it’s that their customer interactions need to be more than one-and-done. As such, more brands are starting to invest in improving their customer experience.
Take the case of the outdoor apparel brand, Backcountry. Backcountry is going above and beyond to impress its customers.
The brand is opening two new retail locations with experts on-site to help customers plan trips, host events like film screenings, and organize volunteer service days with local nonprofits.
Bloomingdale’s is also focused on enhancing the customer experience. Its new Bloomie’s store in the Mosaic District will have technology-enabled features to enhance customer experience. Stylists will also be delivering personalized guidance to shoppers across all categories, including assistance with the push of a button in fitting rooms.
3. Retailers are also investing in digital multi-channel and omnichannel experiences
While we’ve seen a rise in enhanced customer experience for brick-and-mortar stores, it doesn’t mean the fall of online presence for retailers. Far from it.
As such, many brands are focusing on providing a stellar omnichannel experience. And, it’s paying off.
For example, Omnisend found using three or more channels for any campaign resulted in a whopping 287% higher purchase rate than single-channel campaigns. Multi-channel selling has become crucial for retailers to grow.
The impact of 2020 on the retail industry leads us to the next question—How can your business stay prepared for the new post-pandemic buyer?
Let’s take a closer look.
Rebuilding the retail industry means meeting the expectations of the new buyer
1. Brands must dazzle across all channels
In the post-pandemic world, brands have to focus on keeping their digital success intact and provide a memorable customer experience in brick-and-mortar stores. Yes, this means even means your wholesale portal must impress with a top-notch digital experience.
After all, research has found that despite lockdown restrictions, 38% of consumers intend to do more online shopping and only visit stores that provide great experiences.
It’s no longer an either/or situation—brick-and-mortar retail significantly affects online sales and digital engagement and vice versa. Likewise, your wholesale business must be ready for in-person and digital sales appointments that are engaging and effective.
2. Retailers need virtual tools to help streamline the buying process
In the recent NuORDER webinar with Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue & Bloomingdale's, experts discussed the must-haves during virtual market appointments and how to create a seamless buying experience.
Must-haves include digital tools that make the buying process easier. Joyce Lin, a Nordstrom buyer, expresses how NuORDER has helped meet this need.
“Using NuORDER has 100% streamlined our buying process. We can see a full assortment and a full season on one platform. And we can sort in many different ways whether by class, month, brand, and all of our item intent is in one place, making it easy to review with our team,” says Lin.
Another way to level up the virtual buying experience is by creating a digital visual assortment. Thankfully, NuORDER helps you convey your brand story through digital tools like guided virtual showrooms tours, and customers have seen stellar results.
Bloomingdale buyers have also been impressed with NuORDER’s virtual showrooms. Wenny Luo says, "Because we're coming in live from the showroom, buyers are able to pull the samples as we go through NuORDER. At the same time we're moving it logistically in NuORDER so it's live and in tandem. That’s been a lifesaver during COVID."
3. Buyers want flexible payment options
With more and more people shopping online and via mobile devices, it makes sense that retail buyers would want convenient payment options.
Providing more flexible payment options is something experts discussed during the webinar. We witnessed a strong consensus on the importance of flexible B2B payments options.
NuORDER Payments gives buyers the ability to split payments, pay-upon-ship, and the ability to pay from wherever they might be in the world.
Give more payment options and provide the flexibility retail buyers are looking for.
Get more insights about post-pandemic trends by watching the latest NuORDER webinar
If you’re looking for more insights on what these buyers have to say about shopping post-pandemic, listen to the webinar in its entirety here.