Retailers need to adapt to ‘post-Covid’ consumer

Retailers need to adapt to the post-COVID-19 consumer, a report has warned.

Retailers need to adapt to how shopping has changed in the coronavirus crisis.

Consumers are feeling more financially constrained, are more digitally savvy, and place greater emphasis on their trust in brands as a result of the pandemic, according to the latest report from KPMG.

While personal safety was the biggest concern when influencing trust in brands, with much of non-essential retail having been online-only during lockdown, there has been rapid adoption of alternative channels.

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In the UK, the majority of customers have already changed the way they deal with businesses, with nearly 60 per cent switching to websites, 41 per cent turning to email correspondence and 25 per cent downloading new apps.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “The early stages of the pandemic saw retailers having to react quickly to a unique set of circumstances, and although many have put their resilience plans into operation, they are now trying to adapt to the new reality that lies ahead on a more permanent basis. In many cases that will result in the need to review both business models and their ways of working going forward, factoring in the shift in consumer behaviours and expectations.

“Retailers need to carefully consider how they can benefit from the rise of alternative channels like online, and while that’s been a longstanding issue for the sector, the rate of change has accelerated considerably since COVID-19. Likewise, the added focus on value for money must mean far more than just reducing prices, it will prompt a fundamental shift in the purchasing decisions of retailers as well as a greater need for efficiency in operations. Interestingly, a fifth of consumers said they intended to source more items locally, forgoing global brands, which would mark a significant shift if it comes to fruition.”

He added: “Trust in businesses and brands will clearly be of paramount importance, and consumers have indicated that their trust will largely be shaped by a focus on safety and the customer support on offer. Saturday’s easing of restrictions in the leisure and hospitality sectors will certainly be another test of that and it’s crucial that consumer businesses get it right.”