There’s no denying that COVID-19 has further disrupted retail. From extended store closings to economic uncertainty, consumers have grown wary of in-person shopping. Attracting and keeping new customers has become one of the biggest hurdles, with retention rates that are 82% lower for customers acquired during the pandemic.
Brick-and-mortar stores, which were already struggling to keep up with ecommerce, face even tougher competition. Whether it’s due to safety or convenience, 83% of consumers said they plan to continue shopping the same amount online—or even more—after the pandemic.
Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad for retailers. With the right marketing strategy, it’s still possible to acquire new customers, re-engage old ones, and meet holiday sales goals. However, that will require understanding the new retail landscape and how to respond to consumers’ changing needs and habits.
To provide marketers with that key guidance, Braze partnered with Wakefield Research to create a detailed report on the future of retail. Based on various data sources, including an 8,000-person global survey, behavioral and engagement data from Braze, and app-focused information from Apptopia, the report covers both trends and opportunities in the new normal.
Here are just a few of the takeaways on the ways in which COVID-19 has reshaped retail—and how marketers should respond.
Rethink Your Messaging
COVID-19 has done more than just alter shopping patterns. It has also had a major impact on how consumers respond to retail marketing. 91% of global consumers said that they’re likely to switch from a brand due to its pandemic response (or lack thereof). How human your brand communication feels when it comes to addressing the recent challenges that consumers have faced may end up being the difference between strengthening loyalty or losing customers.
When it comes to in-person shopping, 26% of consumers said a retailer’s response will be the most important factor in choosing where to shop this holiday season. Nearly half (47%) said that a store’s safety policies will inform their decision. The upshot? As stores begin to open, communicating your strategy to keep shoppers safe will be vital to bringing back foot traffic.
Ramp Up Your Lifecycle Marketing
As retention rates continue to fall below traditional holiday patterns, it’s more important than ever to build out lifecycle marketing programs that lower acquisition costs and re-engage customers. An effective cross-channel messaging strategy is key here. Reaching out across email, mobile push, in-app messages, and other channels can drive 800X higher engagement rates, capturing consumer attention in a noisy landscape.
A simple loyalty program designed to deepen relationships and offer special holiday promotions can also give your sales a boost. As the holidays get closer, consider leaning into data to support better messaging and taking inspiration from other industries to make your outreach more memorable and effective.
Double Down on Mobile
Given that customers are increasingly shopping online, it’s clear that a successful ecommerce marketing strategy is a must. However, your best customers may not be browsing on a desktop.
Mobile acquisition has risen by 62% as consumers have been forced to re-establish shopping patterns. Mobile users are also 10X more likely to make a purchase and 12X more likely to make a second purchase, compared to users acquired from other sources.
Try experimenting with in-app messages or create cross-channel campaigns to drive push opt-ins to improve your retention. Customers who opt-in to receive mobile push notifications had 30-day retention rates that were 4X higher than other users, demonstrating how well messaging can reduce churn.
Keep Your Customers’ Needs in Mind
As you refine your marketing strategy, remember that retailers aren’t the only ones adapting to a new normal. Customers are also facing their own challenges. By focusing on empathy instead of aggressive sales tactics, you’ll build campaigns that strengthen loyalty and increase customer satisfaction that lasts long after the pandemic.
For more insights on how your brand can thrive in these uncertain times, download The Future of Retail: Opportunities for Brands in the New Normal.