INSIGHTS

Returning to centres: The change in consumer behaviour

R.M Williams, St Ives

After almost 10 months since the first case of COVID was recorded in Australia we are seeing drastic changes in consumer purchase behaviour and their needs when it comes to returning to retail stores.

The unexpected length of the pandemic has had a profound impact on consumers, beyond concerns of personal health and public hygiene. Retail spaces now need to think about catering to their shoppers’ financial, social and psychological wellbeing so that they feel safe to return to stores and the public space.

A new hierarchy of needs

The new breed of consumer has different priorities and needs when it comes to hitting the shops that centres will need to keep in mind when returning to typical trade.
When entering a retail centre consumers will be looking for:

  • Reassurance that the store is safe with sanitiser dispensers, space to move around and perspex dividers where appropriate.
  • Information on the implementation of proper COVID safe procedures.
  • Transparency in communicating policies, approaches to sustainability and social issues. There is a strong link between brand transparency and customer commitment that shouldn’t be ignored here.
  • A clear presentation of value. The impact on the economy has many Australian’s keeping a closer than usual eye on their spending.
  • New expectations around service will now affect their interactions and relationships with their retailers of choice.

The retailer’s responsibility

Innovative thinking has kept many businesses afloat during this time and now isn’t the time to stop. Retailers should continue to think outside the box when it comes to the physical shopping experience they are offering, this might look like reimagining the purpose of your space and making functional and experiential changes to enhance the shopping experience.

To close the gap between getting back to some form of normalcy, centres and their retailers will need to take matters in their own hands to proactively create a positive and safe environment for their customers. While sanitiser and open spaces can make a great difference short term, the impacts of this pandemic will be prevalent within retail stores and shopping centres for years to come. The sooner brands look to implement procedures that support long term growth rather than quick fixes the earlier we may see the light of recovery.

With your customers’ new needs in mind and a look towards the future, create a strategic plan of action that builds a feeling of trust and safety, bringing customers back, along with their loyalty. Contact us at Storepro to chat about how you can cultivate positive purchasing behaviour in the new retail landscape. Backed by our extensive experience working within senior roles for well known retail giants, we offer retail advisory services that will have your space inspiring and engaging customers time and time again.

While there are many steps retail stores can take to make their environment welcoming and exciting, there is more to the story. In part two of this insight series, we’ll focus on the shopping centres responsibility and what landlords should take into consideration to ensure there will still be stores to visit post-pandemic.