Stay-at-home shoppers didn’t know it at the time, but during the most intense months of the worldwide pandemic shutdown, retail shopping behaviors changed in ways that will impact the retail experience forever.
As a tumultuous 2020 was rocked by COVID-19, U.S. retail wasn’t left unchanged. What started as “pandemic shopping” out of necessity is driving the strongest retail trends:
The shift to online shopping, particularly for necessities, has put enormous pressure on what’s called “last-mile delivery.”
Last-mile delivery is the final, most expensive and challenging step in delivery to the intended destination, most often the consumer’s front door. It is affected by traffic, weather and the need to move many single-package deliveries quickly.
Changes in shopping behavior and consumer expectations have put even more focus on last-mile delivery. Fast shipping is the new gold standard of consumer satisfaction. Several emerging trends in last-mile delivery include:
With 75% of shoppers now preferring delivery over pickup, and additional revenue opportunities connected to exceptional delivery service, retailers are investing in improving last-mile delivery.
Though the omni-channel revolution that connects at-home and in-store shopping experiences had already begun, Retail Dive says the pandemic accelerated what would have been several years of e-commerce growth into a few months.
“During the pandemic, people were spending an increasing amount of time on their phones and other devices,” said Carmine Bucalo, Director of Creative Services at Packaging Corporation of America. “As a result, e-commerce shopping exploded.”
Businesses that underutilized their websites quickly learned that “nice to haves” were now critical to staying open. Many smaller businesses that never had an online store suddenly had to adjust quickly or risk closing for good. Other technology, including QR codes, has come back into fashion since the pandemic, allowing shoppers to move seamlessly from offline to online experiences.
Shoppers are increasingly supportive of local businesses, but online opportunities like virtual shops that are accessible on social media platforms can help small businesses compete with the largest online retailers. This creates an opportunity for businesses to create a consistent brand story with both in-store and e-commerce packaging.
If we learned one thing in 2020, it’s that few things are more important than connecting as humans. However, random content about your brand that is scattered throughout digital channels won’t go far. In order to build loyalty, brands need to tell a consistent story.
According to recent retail studies, 76% of U.S. consumers shop online, and it is predicted that e-commerce sales could nearly double by 2024. With greater selections and options online, brick-and-mortar retailers must create a shopping experience that invites customers back to see, feel and experience a brand.
Consumers are now connected digitally for more than 12 hours a day. That said, brick-and-mortar will continue to be important, and brands need to seamlessly connect online and offline experiences through consistent storytelling.
4. Creating a Fresh In-Store Design Experience
Although consumers have fully embraced online shopping, Retail Customer Experience reported that nearly half of post-2020 shoppers surveyed prefer in-person retail experiences. And if a retailer gives them a positive experience or even a memory to walk away with, the likelihood of those shoppers returning increases to 90 percent.
Stats like those are driving brick-and-mortar retailers to rethink shopping experiences. What should we expect?
As consumers increasingly return to the retail environment, retailers can make a lasting impression by creating a more emotional and memorable in-store shopping experience for customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with supply chains and accelerated the adoption of online shopping. As consumer behaviors shifted, retailers that are improving the in-store experience will be positioned to increase sales.
PCA creates high-graphic packaging and merchandising solutions for consumer goods manufacturers and retailers of all sizes and distribution channels. To help meet today’s shopper expectations, we have corrugated solutions to get products to customers, no matter when, where or how they prefer to shop.
Get retail-ready for all seasons with our in-store displays and packaging.