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The post pandemic shopping habits that are here to stay

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

17 May 2021

Retail

Image Credit: Pexels

The biggest disruption to retail since the dawn of the digital age is undoubtedly the pandemic. There are few global events that have the capacity to alter the course of consumer shopping habits so abruptly. As life returns back to normal with economies and borders reopening, the digital shopping habits so globally embraced since March 2020 are here to stay.

In the U.S. more than 11,000 fashion stores shuttered in 2020, a sign of an evolving landscape less reliant on physical stores. Across retail, Swiss investment bank UBS predicts a further 80,000 U.S. stores could permanently close by 2026.

As physical retailers pivot to become digital-first companies, research from the U.S. and UK shows most shoppers continue to make the majority of purchases in stores. For fashion retailers, the challenge is embracing all available channels: digital, physical, direct, wholesale, social, etcetera.

A survey of Gen Z shopping habits by Kearney showed 73 percent of respondents used physical stores for discovering products; 65 percent liked in-store for trial; and 81 percent likes to purchase in-store.

A seamless, curated experience

Kearney’s research also suggests Gen Z consumers are more likely to let negative experiences stop them from making purchases—both online and in-store. They are looking for a different kind of shopping journey, preferring a well-curated experience focused on a limited number of offerings.

During quarantine, shopping habits changed almost overnight

Fueling a rise in e-commerce, when stores were forced to close everything became available at the click of a button. While a convenient and expeditious online shopping experience will help retain customers, it can never replace the tangible need for IRL activity, including shopping.

McKinsey envisions the future of retail

The most successful retailers are those that connect with consumers in new ways by leaning in on their digital, omnichannel, and in-store technology ambitions. The shift to online shopping means some portion of customers are not coming back in store or not coming back at the same frequency they used to. So being able to maximize the value of each trip is going to be incredibly important.

This is where the phygital experience comes in, a seamless connection between online and offline, digital and physical. An experience that is more than just a transaction, without any form of friction.