EDITORIAL How Next, Zalando, Pets at Home and more see customer buying patterns changing post-pandemic

Manchester shoppers returned in-store to buy post-pandemic lockdowns. Image: Anna Mente/Shutterstock

Manchester shoppers returned in-store to buy post-pandemic lockdowns. Image: Anna Mente/Shutterstock

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting on how retailers are seeing the way their customers buy from them changing in the wake of the pandemic. One retailer sees an apparent reversal of the way that shoppers bought during the pandemic. Next says that having moved online during and immediately following lockdowns, customers have returned to its shops in the first half of the year and are now buying less in-store. That, it says, represents something of a turnaround. It doesn’t, however, believe this is a change for the long-term, but rather something temporary that may well reflect the reduced choice on the UK’s high streets for those who prefer to buy in-store since many brands have closed shops or shifted online altogether.  

Footfall figures out this week suggest that shoppers still aren’t going in-store as much as they did before the pandemic – and even less so during recent record temperatures and as a result of cost of living issues, whose effect is set to continue.

The cost of living is certainly an issue for ScS, which says that while it is set to report higher than expected pre-tax profits in its latest full year, order levels have declined both in-store and online in recent months. 

The effects of the pandemic are persisting for Adidas, which continues to see more shoppers buying direct from it, especially online, while Covid-19 restrictions in China continue to hold back its revenues in the market. Profitability has fallen, however, largely as a result of higher supply chain costs. 

Pets at Home, meanwhile, is benefiting from the continued pandemic shift towards pet ownership. It has seen more shoppers sign up for more regular interactions, whether through subscriptions or loyalty memberships, and more revenues come from omnichannel sales in the first quarter of its financial year.

Fashion and lifestyle platform Zalando, meanwhile, says that sales and profits both fell in the second quarter of its year – and it has introduced minimum order values in order to improve its order economics, while also making its European logistics more efficient and reducing its marketing spend.

Despite the different effects of the pandemic on these very different retailers, what many of them have in common at a challenging time of rising costs and changing shopper behaviour is a strategic focus on customer relationships. Zalando want to be the starting point for fashion and it is working to deepen customer relationships accordingly, both through its membership club and through the customer experience. Pets at Home is focusing on subscriptions and loyalty while growing direct-to-consumer sales inevitably mean Adidas’ relationship with its customers is changing. 

In today’s guest comment Eduardo Silva of Patchworks suggests that retailers should now be thinking about iCommerce alongside their ecommerce strategies. 

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