As more customers buy more of their shopping online, their expectations of what they want from retailers are changing fast, a new study suggests.
The Retail reimagined: the new era for customer experience report from Periscope by McKinsey questioned more than 2,500 people in the UK, France, Germany and the US to find out how they now expect to be served.
In the UK, 34% want to order via mobile apps, 28% want to use mobile payments and 24% self-identification at terminals. In the US, 30% want mobile payments and 28% to order via mobile apps, while mobile payments are the priority for shoppers in both Germany (29%) and France (22%).
The research ran in two phases, first in March and then in June 2020, and found customer habits changing fast during that time. In the UK, 44% of shoppers had tried new brands or bought from a new retailer during lockdown, while 46% did so in the US - and gave as their top reasons for doing so competitive pricing (UK 48%, US 51%) and empathetic retailers that supported their staff during the pandemic with raised or replacement wages or extra sick leave (US 27%, France 26%).
Across markets more than 50% of respondents said they wanted shops to follow safety guidelines by installing screens at checkouts, supporting mask wearing, and making hand sanitiser available.
Ecommerce sales grew in all four markets during the pandemic shutdowns, and customers said that free and fast delivery and returns continued to be important, but other attributes gained in importance. These included the use of informative product descriptions and clear product images (UK 70%, Germany 57%).
“While disruption and fierce competition are certainly nothing new for retailers, the pace and intensity of Covid-19-related change and their effect on consumers is unprecedented,” said Brian Ruwadi, senior partner and global leader of Periscope by McKinsey.
“This is a pivotal time where we’re seeing not only changing loyalties and a shifting leaderboard, but an opportunity to really connect with consumers in new ways as they reformulate their habits and decision journeys. As retail leaders plot how they will bounce back, they also need to look beyond the immediate challenges and issues. In parallel to quickly recovering revenue, it is critical to engage in long-term planning and accelerate future growth.”