The global shift to safer shopping has challenged brands of all sizes to rethink their retail strategies. As many people experience a fear of going out, or FOGO, safety has become a deciding factor in choosing where to shop. With this uncertainty, businesses have the opportunity to reimagine what shopping experiences can be by putting customers’ needs first.
As we all prepare for 2021, and the possibility of new waves of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions, delivering on evolving expectations is more important than ever. For example, I’ve been inspired by the agility of brands that prioritized customer experiences to make shopping safer. To help pivot your strategy to meet peoples’ needs, here are four tactics we’re seeing from brands that are shaping the future of safer shopping:
1. Double down on hybrid shopping.
Facebook IQ research reveals that 87% of people surveyed globally say they’re at least somewhat concerned about going into a physical retail store to shop because of the pandemic. Depending on their comfort levels, people opt for different degrees of safer shopping. This can look like shorter shopping trips, curbside pickup or contactless delivery.
According to Facebook Conversation Data from February to May, conversations around contactless delivery grew over six times during that period, making the opportunity for offering hybrid shopping even clearer. For instance, Kirkland’s Home Décor utilized curbside pick-up when it temporarily closed brick-and-mortar locations. To boost awareness and sales, the team built Facebook video and photo campaigns that showcased the availability, ease and safety of curbside pickup. With Kirkland’s being one of the first retailers to implement curbside service, the campaign tripled the rate of curbside pickups, helping to boost business.
2. Eliminate friction.
As people spend more time online, many are using their smartphones as part of the shopping experience. From pre-store research to checkout, mobile has become a major part of the purchase journey. But a bad mobile experience such as hard-to-read text, slow-loading pages and difficult navigation can turn off shoppers.
How many times have you left a website because it took forever to load or it was too difficult to find what you were looking for? People want to be able to shop as effortlessly as possible. And now brands have an opportunity to make this a reality by eliminating friction at every step.
3. Redefine shopping experiences.
With more people embracing online shopping, businesses have an opportunity to pivot from transactional experiences to experiential ones that replicate the discovery and trial of in-store shopping. There are plenty of ways businesses can reimagine online shopping, such as giving customers the ability to virtually try on makeup with augmented reality filters, shopping in real time with Facebook Live and buying directly through influencers.
A GFK study commissioned by Facebook IQ found that more people are leaning into AR and virtual reality, with 63% stating that they want to virtually try on products in the comfort of their own homes. A great example of AR trial experiences comes from beauty brand Glamnetic, which created an AR filter that lets people see how the company’s magnetic eyelashes would look on their faces.
4. Stay connected with your community.
Globally, 41% of people surveyed say they want to hear what steps brands and retailers are taking to ensure safety, according to a study by Kantar Profiles for Facebook IQ. From corner stores to big box stores, shoppers are looking for guidance and reassurance. And safety isn’t just for shoppers—people also want to hear how store staff members are being protected. In fact, according to a study by Ipsos, two in three people surveyed globally said that the way a business responds to the pandemic will seriously impact their future spending.5
With real-time updates, brands can share how they are prioritizing safety, such as equipping staff with PPE, sanitization protocols and temperature checks at the door. Postmates is a great example of a brand that stepped up its communication efforts to reassure shoppers. On top of being the first on-demand platform to introduce contactless deliveries, Postmates used social media to regularly share its COVID-19 safety measures and promote its fleet member relief program.
Now’s the time for brands to equip themselves for success by reimagining what shopping can be through the lens of safety. By listening to people’s concerns and adapting strategies to meet evolving needs, marketers can better prepare themselves for what the future holds.