Expressed opinions Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
It is a huge understatement to say that the way we do business has changed in the last two years. The epidemic has taken over most aspects of normalcy, from how we eat to how our children learn. It has changed our relationship with each other as human beings, but as we move forward together and navigate the new normal, brands can learn a lot from the resilience and empathy unleashed from early 2020 onwards.
1. Embrace new physical boundaries
Social interactions now seem to have changed forever, with moments seen as fleeting as greetings with an elbow tap or a fist shake instead of a handshake. Each person’s physical boundaries have been affected and reshaped. And similarly we now respectfully ask friends, “Are you okay with a hug?” Before rushing, businesses need to acknowledge and support that customer expectations for in-store communication are significantly different.
According to the National Retail Federation, more than twice as many stores have been opened as closed by 2021, which tells us that the 2020 retail apocalypse could be further reset. The fact that these openings were strongly skewed towards dollar stores, discounts and warehouse clubs makes it clear that brands that prioritize the financial well-being of consumers have a strong base in this new economy – a great example of understanding key demand as part of growth strategy.
The future of bricks and mortar seems to be ever-changing – even as personal shopping still plays an important role – and customers’ needs and expectations have shifted to these experiences. Talk about the many digital native brands that opened stores last year and the main purpose behind that opening. More than 30 new Warby Parker stores opened in 2021 so customers could wear glasses or talk to a vision specialist. Twenty new parachute stores have opened their doors so that people can come in and feel the fabric, texture and comfort of its home furniture. These brands are building strong customer connections by providing additional and engaging experiences.
Simply put, in order to connect brick-and-mortar in the post-Covid world, it is vital to ask, “What do our customers need most from us?”
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2. Move the line between digital and personal
The new work life is now through the internet as much as they do across the proverbial conference table, and this now applies to the world of education. And even for those of us who miss the chemistry of personal collaboration, we have to acknowledge that the epidemic has set us up to continue working (and life) more fluently from many places. For brands to keep customers happy, their shopping experience needs to be fluidized.
Retail brands have the opportunity to redesign the way they think about the online vs. store experience. The days of ecommerce are behind us as a separate silo: I encourage every company to think of consumer offers as simply “retail”. Your customers deserve a consistent experience, whether they’re browsing online, shopping in a store, or a combination of the two. Think about improving this experience across the board, whether it is joining two-thirds of retailers (again, according to the National Retail Federation) currently offering buy-online-and-pick-up-in-store functionality or investing otherwise Is doing online technology to provide better services to consumers.
Looking for innovative ways to enhance the customer experience Regardless Where and how your customer shop is now the key to permanent connection fraud.
3. Purpose is more important than ever
If the changes of 2020 and beyond teach us something as a society, it means that our time, energy and resources are not infinite. I have seen the way in which interpersonal relationships have become more deliberate, reflected in the gatherings around the communities most affected by the epidemic and the way staff has moved away from jobs that have not served them. Similarly, customers now demand more from the companies with which they do business.
One of the notable figures from 5WPR’s Consumer Culture | 5W Public Relations reports that more than 70% of consumers now want a brand that aligns with their identity, their vision for the future, and those who are sympathetic, thoughtful. British-American inspirational speaker and author Simon Sinek, while presenting a TEDxPuget sound, said, “People will not buy. What? You do People will buy Why You do it ”- and why you as a brand is more important now than ever before. The methods will be unique for each brand, but I urge you to think about how you can create a meaningful purpose and invite customers with you.
Related: How to build a good business with genuine connections