COVID-19 has changed the game for small business owners, largely due to consumer shopping behaviors. According to a recent insight report from Shopkick, an American company based in Silicon Valley that created a successful shopping app, 62% of consumers say that their shopping habits in stores have changed in the past year. So, what exactly are these changes, and how do they affect small businesses in all industries across the country? Let’s dive into the details.
For small businesses, the long-term side effects of the covid-19 pandemic include:
- A transition to online shopping / search ̵1; Pitney Bowes runs billions of transactions worldwide, and it recently asked American adults how they expected their shopping behavior to change. More than half (55%) of customers said they expect to discover new brands online, which makes a good-looking online presence even more important. To help your small business appeal to potential customers, consider affordable social media ads that drive traffic to a user-friendly website. Note: In the same survey, 28% of shoppers said they expect to be frustrated with digital shopping, so start with that in mind. A positive user experience is more powerful than you think, we promise.
- Increased service at the curb – Pitney Bowes also found that 43% of consumers expect to use pickup at the edge more often, mainly to avoid shipping costs and / or get their goods earlier. Although those who are sensitive to time (Millennials, parents and Gen Z) may always be more willing to choose the curb, there are opportunities to make in-store pickup more appealing. First, focus your efforts on an enhanced shopping experience, as shoppers surveyed said, “enjoy surfing” and “checking out promotions” are two solid reasons to get out of the car.
- Inevitable price increases – The pandemic, together with inflation and supply chain problems, has had a significant impact on consumer spending. As a result, 49% of consumers buy less overall and 80% of consumers say they are more likely to wait to make a purchase. They are waiting for sales or coupons, which may be something to consider. If your small business has been forced to raise retail prices, brainstorm strategic and sensible sales and incentives that will make your product or service worth a shoppers effort.
- Consumers work consistently from home – At a 2022 conference organized by the National Retail Federation, a speaker shared the results of a recent study on the phenomenon of work from home. In the survey, 60% of consumers estimated that they would work from home at least 50% of the time, and absolutely zero consumers expected to return to the office five days a week. With that, e-commerce is now the preferred method of shopping for 68% of respondents, up from less than 30% before the pandemic in 2019. In addition, if these shoppers visit a physical store in the future, 37% said they would most likely stay “local” or within a radius of 30 miles. All the more reason to meet consumers where they are (online) and promote the power of shopping for small, local businesses.
Your takeaway? According to eMarketer, small businesses need to recognize and adapt to changing consumer shopping behaviors. They have to bend, otherwise they risk breaking down, because “while there are many short-term problems that have driven consumers to shop online, shop locally and change the goods they buy, once they are formed, these habits are probably here to stay.”
If consumer behavior has changed the way you do business, it’s important to make sure your business is properly protected. Talk to one of our local, independent agents today.