Headline article image The Consumers are Coming: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Shopping Surge

The Consumers are Coming: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Shopping Surge

The weather is warmer, vaccines are continuing to roll out and restrictions are easing. As lockdowns and restrictions continue to wane, people are eager to get out of the house and back into a routine (one that involves a wardrobe beyond pajamas and sweatpants). For retailers, this means preparing for an uptick in both online and in-store shopping.

So, how can you best prepare and position your business to benefit from the upcoming shopping surge?  

Leverage data to provide unique eCommerce experiences

The National Retail Foundation forecasts retail sales in 2021 to grow between 6.5% and 8.2%, with sales potentially reaching $4.4 trillion this year. The NRF predicts that $1.19 trillion worth of retail spending, or more than 25%, will come from online shopping. This should come as no surprise as the pandemic has turned even the most tech-averse consumers into online shopping pros. This year, 74% of new retail businesses registered had no physical footprint at all. With the shift to online, retailers have access to more customer data than ever before, giving them an opportunity to build stronger relationships and create additional revenue streams. Some are also exploring new ways to engage with customers beyond their website or app, including launching subscription models, marketplaces, loyalty programs, digital games or digital licenses, exclusive access to events, and early access to products.

Continue to invest in store safety

Though experts expect for the eCommerce trend to stick, customers will still flock back to stores. Retail and customer experience expert Martin Newman predicts that 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers will eventually return to brick-and-mortar retail this year. That being said, retailers must ensure in-store safety and hygiene remains their top priority. Leaders should evaluate their locations for sanitation, masks and social distancing even as the majority of the population gets vaccinated. A recent survey found that 99% of shoppers said they feel safer shopping at stores that provide hand sanitizing stations at their entrances, and a majority of respondents also said they plan to keep using wipes for their hands and shopping carts even after getting vaccinated.  

Think critically about the role of your store

According to Newman, come spring, some people will want to “over-index on what they’ve missed out on” during the pandemic and will be eager to go back to their favorite stores and discover new ones. Further, McKinsey & Company found that half of consumers are pandemic-fatigued and intend to spend soon, especially on apparel, beauty and electronics. This is a great time to reconsider the role of your store. Is it functional, or experiential? “Generalist” stores that provide shoppers with the ability to pick up many different types of items at once, such as Target, have fared well during the pandemic as they decreased their customers’ needs to leave the house for trips to multiple stores. But if your store focuses on more niche products, focus on the experiential. Have curated, focused products and spaces for community events or experiences. Remember, even post-pandemic, shoppers will need a real reason beyond convenience to visit stores.

Ensure omnichannel is at the forefront of your strategy

The idea of the omnichannel shopping experience is becoming less of a buzzword and more of a standard. An omnichannel approach is all about empowerment: joining up experiences to give customers the means to shop when, where, and how they want. At the onset of the pandemic, many retailers implemented new technologies, including “BOPIS” (buy online, pick up in store), same-day delivery and contactless mobile checkout. Others offered “BNPL” (buy now, pay later) platforms like Afterpay both in-store and online, to help their customers spend smart, without the worry of debt, interest, or hidden fees. Even after the pandemic subsides, these omnichannel offerings remain critical. Experts suggest that retailers will need to invest in tools and technologies that give them the foundation to be flexible and agile to support the modern-day omnichannel shopping experience.

In 2021, there’s no longer a logical separation to be made between the in-store and online experience. As a customer walks into a brick-and-mortar location, there is an incredibly high chance that they were already engaged with the store or brand online, and vice versa. That’s the way we shop today, and it will undoubtedly influence the way we’ll shop tomorrow.

Interested in becoming an Afterpay partner and tapping into our 16 million US customers? Contact our team today to learn how to quickly and seamlessly integrate Afterpay and offer your customers a more flexible way to pay. 


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Afterpay Marketing
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