There’s no doubt that Covid has disrupted the world of brick-and-mortar retailers. Already roiling from years of online competition, the virus has represented a new threat. Still, as recent research from CodeBroker ’“Consumer Shopping Habits During The Covid-19 Pandemic” reveals, there are new opportunities for retailers to drive store traffic and boost sales even amid ongoing concerns about the pandemic and the economic downturn.
The Current State of Retail
As the US Census points out in its monthly retail trade report: “Due to recent events surrounding Covid-19, many businesses are operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely.” Yet some retailers are seeing a boost in revenue, with certain segments—home improvement and sales of at-home entertainment such as swimming pools and exercise equipment, for instance, seeing strong demand.
In July, economics saw sales rise by 2.3% after a 7.5% increase in the previous month. Much of this activity is taking place online, though, both due to stores being closed to in-person traffic and to consumers’ own virus safety concerns.
Consumer Safety Concerns
Consumers are naturally concerned about taking health precautions but they’re also willing to support those retailers that follow safety guidelines as outlined by the CDC, according to a national survey by Consumer Reports reported in Small Business Trends. In fact, according to the article: “A majority of US customers (59%) say they are likelier to support local businesses which follow Covid-19 safety guidelines.”
Research from McKinsey supports these concerns. McKinsey says: “Consumers are actively looking for use of masks and physical barriers when deciding where to shop in-store.” Further, the concern has increased since first measured by McKinsey in May.
CodeBroker Research Supports Opportunities to Drive Store Traffic
CodeBroker research also suggests some key areas of opportunity retailers can leverage to drive consumers into their stores, even as the pandemic persists.
Consumers, perhaps due to online shopping fatigue and the desire to return to some sense of normalcy, as well as to the desire to support local retail businesses, indicate that they’re ready to get back into their favorite stores. More than half of the respondents in the CodeBroker survey (53%) indicated that they’re planning to shop at the physical locations of their favorite stores.
Another key driver of store traffic: high-value digital coupons—even among those respondents who indicated that they weren’t planning to shop at physical locations. Of these respondents, 61% said they would change their minds about going to a physical store location if they received a discount coupon offer for a product they’re interested in.
Would a high-value coupon compel you to enter a physical store? | Source: CodeBroker
It’s also interesting to note that, even when shopping in-store, mobile/digital coupons are preferred by a difference of 77% compared to 23% who selected paper coupons.
With high-value coupons, of course, retailers are obviously concerned about ensuring that the coupons are used by the individual they targeted to use the coupon—and that coupons can’t be used more than once.
Retailers should employ single-use coupons to ensure that:
- Customers always receive the same barcode regardless of the number of times, or channels, the coupon is requested
- The coupon expires immediately across all channels once it is redeemed
- Customers cannot obtain a second copy of the coupon unless allowed by the retailer
While there are signs that consumer’s comfort level with visiting retail store locations is improving, much shopping activity will continue to take place online. The good news here, according to CodeBroker research, is that online retailers can compete against the big guys—even Amazon—by taking certain approaches to engaging with customers and other consumers(Pandemic).
The ability to beat Amazon to draw sales to even small retailers’ online sites also appears to have potential when paired with digital coupons. In fact, 75% of respondents indicated that mobile/digital coupons would prompt them to buy from other online retailers besides Amazon.
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As the nation begins to open back up for business, retailers can take advantage of pent-up demand that, combined with high-value coupon offerings, can get consumers back to shopping at stores again.