In 2020, the main reason customers were hesitant to go to brick & mortar locations, seems to stem from the risks associated with visiting stores to themselves or their family members. As Covid-19 cases continue to stay relevant, customers are constantly cognizant about exposing themselves or increasing their risk. This means that local stores are increasingly being scrutinized for sanitation, safety and comfort, while attempting to retain their existing brand experience.

In store practices like hand-sanitizing stations, social distancing throughout the store and contactless-payment gateways at the point of sale are some of the immediate ways companies are managing the risks of the current pandemic.

Research has shown that customers who come into brick & mortar retail are more likely to know exactly what they are there for, and less likely to spend time browsing the store to identify relevant product offerings. They know what they need, and they aren’t visiting the store to socialize or connect with associates.

“78% of people want to buy or reserve before going into the store”

Creating a safe & convenient experience is now mandatory, but evolving to meet the needs of these new consumers is absolutely critical. Customers want to be in & out, but how can this urgency be translated into an engaging customer experience and long term loyalty?

Streamlined Checkout Process

Checkout is one of the most tedious aspects in every brick & mortar store, depending on how busy the store is, checkout only takes longer and longer as consumers are crammed in line. Businesses must be aware that checkout is one of the most important places to sanitize, customers close together, a high level of touch points and extended exposure; all serve to increase risk and discomfort.

A current practice most businesses are using is contactless payment to not only shorten the lines and make checkout faster, but to also allow customers to touch fewer things in the store, which goes back to the cleanliness of the business in time where that is paramount. Contactless payment has so many benefits, pandemic aside. Research shows that a customer who spends longer than 5-10 minutes waiting is much more likely to give up on the purchase altogether. Long lines are not the only cause of checkout inefficiency. Non-connected payment systems will result in additional processing time, and if a customer plans to complete their purchase with an unsupported payment method then friction can occur. That is why having a connected contactless payment system is so vital for the long-term health of brick & mortar businesses.

Adapt To Survive

Adaptation is something retailers have become rather good at, the events of 2020 & 2021 have made it imperative for brick & mortar retailers to adapt and meet constantly altered customer expectations. States have specific regulations around brick & mortar, so the rules that each one of the company’s stores has to follow is completely location dependent.

With that said, it is vital that company procedures are unanimous and take the necessary precautions to make the stores thrive no matter the state. Customers are perceptive of consistency across locations, so it is essential that brands present a seamless experience at every location. Safety measures should be prioritized at every store location regardless of restrictions, if your customers in one spot value safety then it is likely the mirrored group in a different location will too.

A key trend in 2021 will be the way in which brands continue to advance to drive customer loyalty. Consumers are skeptical about visiting brands in store, they have clear concerns about the virus, doubt the value of being in store and accept the convenience of large e-tailers. For brands to effectively adapt to the changes in customer behavior going forward a new & consistent experience is essential.

“69% of consumers do not use a sales associate for assistance, and prefer to browse themselves”

Consumers no longer care about building relationships with store staff, they care much more about their individual experience, as well as their convenience. For staff to build relationships and drive further loyalty they have to support this experience. Brands can change the way their store functions to leverage secondary channels, evolve in store options, provide additional availability data and keep customers more connected via mobile devices.

“34% of shoppers want within the next 12 months, the ability to “just walk out” with an item”

Consumers demand convenience, accessibility and safety during their purchase experience, for brands to adapt and expand their efficacy in driving customer experience they absolutely must prioritize the functionality, benefits and features that their consumers desire.

The Omnichannel Advantage

We all know that knowledge is power, without knowledge we cannot generate marketing or communications that effectively represents what we understand about our customers. Omnichannel is important for a company’s efficiency as well as communication, connectivity drives backend processes, but it also empowers brands to evolve the way in which they connect with customers and create viable customer experiences across channels.

Some companies have already found solutions to these issues. As brick & mortar continues to compete with or be supported by eCommerce, connecting the various systems of business management is a vital upgrade to fully complete.

“54% of consumers want loyalty information to be automatically tied to their credit card”

Customers want a seamless experience, one in which everything they seek from a shopping experience is met, credibly, quickly and conveniently. Building an omnichannel backend that connects every facet of retail empowers consumers to access an experience that is consistent wherever they shop.

A fully integrated and functional POS system that is portable is the tool that has enabled brick & mortar retailers to access the flexibility they need in a time where flexibility is not in high supply. MPOS allows businesses to be completely connected, streamlining the nuance in everyday business operations. This allows for companies to be extremely efficient in avoiding needless interactions and boosts the organizational workflow.

See how Teamwork Commerce can provide your business with an omnichannel advantage: