The holidays are among us.
Outdoor shopping centers craned in their extra-large Christmas trees with baubles the size of your head, twinkling lights illuminate major roads and, most importantly, Starbucks is playing holiday music while dishing eggnog lattes in holiday cups.
Though the visual aspect of holiday preparations seems relatively normal, the holiday season will look a little different this year. As much as we would like to forget our woes and rush Best Buy on Black Friday, COVID-19 continues to impact businesses worldwide. Not only are business functions rapidly changing with the fluctuations of coronavirus cases, but consumer sentiment and behavior are also evolving.
With a global pandemic running rampant, holiday shoppers are even more hesitant to gravitate toward brick-and-mortar stores for their holiday shopping. In two surveys conducted by Premise with 3,398 respondents, 47% of consumers said they feel “neither feel safe nor unsafe” shopping in brick-and-mortar stores while 20% feel some degree unsafe.
Building and maintaining consumer trust is an imperative aspect of the customer experience (CX) 365 days a year. This holiday season, however, consumer trust is one of the most important factors in driving brick-and-mortar sales both in the short term and the long term.
Here are the four most impactful ways to build consumer trust this holiday season despite COVID-19 data.
Monitor Safety Compliance
Consumers need to feel safe in-store. Period, end of story. If they feel the slightest bit unsafe, chances are consumers will revert to an online-only holiday haul.
With COVID-19 safety guidelines varying from state to state, many major retailers are implementing their own in-store guidelines to ease consumer concerns. While militant adherence to retail safety guidelines can help build consumer trust, nothing breaches consumer trust more than empty promises.
Monitoring safety compliance in-store with crowdsourced retail audits will ensure your retailer partners follow-through with safety mandates and improve consumer sentiment during the holidays.
Keep an Eye on OOS
Remember back in March when the nation ran out of toilet paper in 70% of U.S. grocery stores? Every little square was a precious commodity.
The Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020 planted a seed of doubt in consumers that may last for years to come. The mere sight of an empty shelf this holiday season may trigger panic in consumers. However, this panic may be completely unnecessary, with 60% of OOS instances resulting from defective store practices rather than supply chain issues.
You can reduce unnecessary panic, build consumer trust and earn the reputation of reliability by simply monitoring OOS in-store.
Ensure Brand Consistency
Have you ever wondered why, in a quick purchasing decision scenario, you generally grab the “big name” product? That’s because the Krogers, the Unilevers and the L’Oreals of the world are consistent. Their branding is easily identifiable, you know what to expect from their product assortments in-store and their marketing collateral is buttoned-up and perfectly placed on shelf. These business practices build consumer trust over time, creating a natural inclination to purchase.
No business is too small or too large to build a consistent brand identity. The way to achieve this consistency is through continuous monitoring of in-store planogram and end cap compliance.
Listen to Your Customer
The most important tactic on this list, pandemic or no pandemic, is to listen to your customer. Real, devoted trust is earned by establishing a relationship with your customer, listening to their concerns, and charting a course of action to address these concerns.
The holiday season is naturally stressful. Pair the season with a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, and you have the recipe for a temperamental consumer. Gathering sentiment data from your customers and target market segmentation can help your brand identify present concerns in the customer journey and adjust your CX to ease timidity and, ultimately, build trust.
Build Consumer Trust with Crowdsourcing
You need your data to keep pace with your customer. Traditional retail audits, mystery shopping programs and market research focus groups cannot keep up with changing consumer sentiment, particularly during this uncertain time.
Crowdsourcing your data allows for real-time reporting that helps your business make rapid adjustments to planograms, merchandising, OOS and more based on instant consumer feedback. The result: you stay one step ahead of your customer, and your customer learns to trust that you can and will provide an experience that makes them feel warm and fuzzy despite the decreasing temperatures.
Interested in learning more about how Premise can help you execute a successful retail audit and sentiment analysis during the holiday season? Visit https://www.premise.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to help you become more data-driven.