Since the lockdown due to corona virus has been lifted in many countries and they are struggling to get back to “normal”, but the reality is dawning on us now and there seems to be no semblance of “normal” anymore. There are countless things that have changed because of the pandemic and offline retail shopping is one major sector that has witnessed a drastic change. Offline Stores.
What are the affects on offline shopping?
Because of the pandemic, there has been a huge change in the way off-line retail stores function. People no longer want to step out of their homes in order to maintain social distancing and ward off the virus for another time. In fact, the shopkeepers and the other sales people working in offline retail stores are scared for their lives themselves. A huge number of sales people working in retail stores have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Shopping in offline stores is no longer the same as it used to be.
What are the offline shopping trends now that the lockdown has been lifted?
Even though the lockdown has not been lifted in many places, there still remains a fear in the hearts of customers. This has resulted in a huge loss of sales for the offline store owners and is one of the biggest problems in offline shopping.
People would rather buy something online that they want in the comfort of their home and get it delivered right to their doorstep by a delivery man who maintains proper social distancing by placing the package at the door and stepping back after knocking or ringing their doorbell to get their attention.
Why would anyone rather than go out to the local store where they would have to interact with strangers and where there might even possibly be a crowd, and who knows if there is someone or has been someone in the store who might be COVID positive?
Another one of the huge problems in offline shopping is that there are shortages of supply due to the lockdown. There has been a lot of difficulty in getting supplies from the wholesalers who have also been affected because of the pandemic.
How is offline retail shopping adapting to the pandemic situation?
It appears to be that some of the offline retail shops have conducted an extensive SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity & Threat) and have been since working on their strengths which is experiential marketing.
Since the pandemic has begun, the stores have seen a tremendous drop in the number of customers. This has been a result of people choosing e-commerce and online shopping as opposed to offline shopping. But one of the major offline shopping trends that retail stores are trying their best to offer is the experience of the product or service in a very alluring and entertaining way.
Retail stores have realized that shopping in offline stores is not about the product now. In fact, it is all about the experience of the purchase (something which online stores have no control over). Most retail stores in shopping malls are now designing their stores in a very trendy way, with the right music, and the right ambiance that will draw their target customers in like a breeze. Apart from the visual aspect of the offline store, they have also featured tech-gadgets like AR and VR devices that demonstrate their products in an amazing way. But all of that is secondary, the primary area of concern that offline retail stores have is sanitation and regular screening for coronavirus symptoms. Here you can DEFINITELY CALL FOR A CAKE.
But even with all of this effort, it has been difficult to get the right customers to walk into their store, because of the change in the customer’s mindset.
How does customer behavior affect offline shopping?
The customer behavior in 2020 has seen the most significant. Change ever in the past few years because of the pandemic. Customers who were very extravagant in their spending have become very frugal now. Income security is at the forefront of all purchase decisions. Therefore, customers are not spending a lot of money at all on the things that they used to. Apart from essential supplies.
The experience of a retail store is not the same anymore. Because of the problems in offline shopping due to the pandemic. The offline store will now play a completely different role in the customer journey. Let’s take an offline clothing store for example. In the past. Customers would walk into the clothing store and try on a wide range of clothes.
Which they liked and then chose one that would fit them the best. But this is not the case anymore. We cannot go to offline stores and try. On a bunch of different clothes and select one of them because of the pandemic. In fact, the store owners and sales people will not allow you to touch something unless you buy it.
This is a very different situation that the customers will find themselves in. They cannot stop this from happening, nor do they want to because. This is being done to ensure their safety and security. The customers are expecting the store to be a completely safe and risk-free environment for them to shop in.
They would spend very little time. Browsing and be very focused on what product it is that they want to buy. This would be done in order to minimize the contact. Which they have with both the products and also the people in the store.
This then begs the question, is shopping offline even worth it given the extreme precautions that we have to take? Especially when we compare offline retail store shopping to online e-commerce delivery based shopping.
There seems to be negligible benefits of shopping offline when we compare them both to each other. However, there might be a few cases where shopping at local stores would be a necessity. Apart from such exceptional circumstances, offline shopping seems to be on the rapid decline.