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Consumers run their lives online – don’t get left behind

online shopping

Posted By Pinar Dost ⋅ September 29, 2020

Back in May, we wrote about how consumers were reacting to the strange new circumstances we all found ourselves in. The pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns were still in their early days, but already there was plenty to report on in relation to changing consumer habits and needs.

Several months on, the picture of how the pandemic has sped up all things digital is really starting to come into focus. While we’ve all been living multiple aspects of our lives online for years, the last few months have seen all-new rates of accelerated digital adoption that have yet to slow even as things slowly return to a ‘new normal’.

Here are some of the most interesting findings we’ve come across, and why your business needs to tap into these digital consumer trends so that you can make them work for you.

The surge in online shopping shows no signs of slowing

It wasn’t much of a surprise to see so many consumers turn almost exclusively to online shopping over the last few months, seeing as we haven’t had much choice. Yet Google’s mobility reports – which explore how local and national communities are visiting different types of retail, recreational, leisure and working spaces – show that, in many countries, figures are still way lower than pre-COVID-19 levels. In the UK, Italy and Sweden, for example, retail footfall is still significantly down on 2019 levels.

We’re not yet using our high streets like we were before, which is a vital shift for retailers. If not in place already, retailers simply have to provide a way for consumers to view and order products and services online, alongside analytical tools that crunch consumer data to give every website visit the best possible chance of producing a sale. With more competition in the digital marketplace than ever, retailers have to centralise transactional and customer data in one place  – as you can with our Customer Data Platform (CDP) –  so that they can continue to nurture relationships with customers they may no longer be seeing face to face.

The CDP gives retailers the complete picture on their relationship with each customer in one place, including on and offline transactions, purchase history, preferences and more. It enables businesses to better understand what its customers need and what they value, so that they can use this insight to deepen consumer relationship and brand loyalty.  

Wherever possible, services need a virtual version

While staying at home, many consumers have tried to find ways to continue their usual habits and pastimes online. Google has reported huge upticks in new ‘virtual’ searches all around the world, for terms such as virtual ‘try on’, ‘online classes’, ‘virtual pub quiz’ and even ‘virtual gym’. There’s been a distinct desire for online innovation that enables consumers to keep up with their normal routines despite lockdown, and for some, these habits are likely to stick. Brands and organisations that have managed to diversify quickly may well gain themselves the lion’s share of a new virtual service marketplace.

Of course, not every business will have a product or service it can adapt for the digital space. That said, it’s almost impossible to know what could be possible if a business doesn’t have a solid data infrastructure and data-led strategy. A holistic Business Intelligence solution reveals the data insight an organisation needs to make relevant and effective business decisions based on reliable results.

Your competitors have upped their digital efforts – have you?

It’s not only consumers who have increased their online activity in recent months, businesses have too. Many have had little choice, it’s been a case of ‘adapt to survive’ in the face of such unexpected, overnight change.

A recent survey of 2,500 global enterprise decision makers has lead researchers to label COVID-19 ‘the digital accelerant of the decade’, which has sped up companies’ digital communications strategies by an average of six years. That’s significant digital progress in a very short space of time, but it’s often unforeseen events or times of sudden economic downturn that force rapid transformation through sheer necessity. There’s a real risk that companies that haven’t invested in digital and data-driven development will be left behind by their competitors after this period of intense progression.

coffee membership

Launched in response to lower footfall since lockdown, Pret now offers customers up to five drinks a day for a flat rate of £20 a month, with the first month free.

UK coffee chain Pret a Manger has digitised its business model with its new monthly subscription service. Launched in response to lower footfall since lockdown, Pret now offers customers up to five drinks a day for a flat rate of £20 a month, with the first month free. Customers can manage their subscription and order through the YourPret Barista app, which enables the company to customise individual customer relationships and offer consumers personalised additional items. Through a great value proposition, the scheme is designed to encourage coffee lovers to once again treat themselves regularly at their local branch, rather than spending elsewhere. It’s a similar model to the ones we help create with our eCard solution, a fully digital loyalty card system that can be tailored to any business offering.  

The financial services industry provides another example. This is a sector within which both consumers and businesses had shown reluctance to fully embrace online and digital technologies, but the pandemic has now changed that. Deloitte’s report into accelerated digital transformation in the financial arena has found that, on the consumer side, 35 per cent of customers have increased their online banking usage since the pandemic (many of these in older age brackets), and safety-conscious contactless payments have now well and truly established their place as a viable and even preferred way to pay. Mastercard have reported over 40 per cent global growth in contactless transactions over the last few months.

For businesses in financial services, the sudden move to a remote working model and shifting of all communication and interaction online has resulted in unanticipated cost and time efficiencies. As Deloitte note, Nationwide Insurance moved more than 98 per cent of its workforce to home working in just five days and have now committed to making the change permanent. Companies that pivoted quickly to face the challenges of the pandemic are now benefitting from more agile and responsive operations and more digitally engaged consumers.

So, what about your business? Do you have the data and digital know-how to keep developing your customer offering in the ‘new normal’? If not, we’re here to help. We’ve worked with global organisations to help them uncover actionable data insight for decades, and our data-driven solutions are designed to unearth the data that matters, quickly. Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more.

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