Just like athletes on the starting blocks, we are all anxiously waiting for the starting gun to put this dark period behind us and sprint at breakneck speed towards tomorrow.
In this long year of restrictions and fears, we have greeted the old normality and welcomed new consumption habits and behaviour.
During the months of the pandemic, consumers took refuge at home, reduced their shopping basket, their available budget for shopping and renounced socialising and the “outdoor” life, finding support and comfort in the digital world.
What will remain of this new, more private, homely and digital-savvy customer when the health emergency ends? Will we go back to who we were or will we carry the indelible scars of this incredible page of modern history?
McKinsey took interest in this in a recently published research, analysing the behaviour that emerged during Covid while anticipating consumer future prospects in the era of the “Next Normal”.
Spoiler alert: those who hope for a return to the past life have very little future ahead of them.
How have we changed during Covid? Downsizing of consumption and sociality, openness to digital
The research conducted by the well-known multinational strategic consultancy has taken a snapshot of the consumers’ new normal at the time of Covid.
People’s lives have changed dramatically and the main protagonist of the New Normal is the digital world.
Barricaded at home, people have exploited the long levers of innovation to work – smart working – to learn – e-learning – to spend free time – digital entertainment has undergone a dizzying surge – and, ça va sans dire, to buy all kinds of goods and services: the success of online shopping has ousted offline purchases, guaranteeing consumers efficiency, safety and protection. After years of growth and consolidation, the traditional outdoor consumer experience has been disappearing in favour of a large-scale explosion of e-commerce.
What will remain of all this? Have we really moved on and made the big leap to a remote life in a digital world?
Not entirely: according to the McKinsey research, consumer behaviour in the Next Normal may vary based on the values rooted in each distinctive culture and the degree of satisfaction with the experiences of recent months.
Speaking of values, it is undeniable that proximity, relationship and sociality are fundamental pillars in European culture, and in particular in Italian culture. When the restrictions ease “we will be back to hugging each other” and, perhaps, returning to shops and markets to exchange a few words with the shopkeepers and be pampered a little while shopping. However, the shopping experience will hardly go back to that of the past: the stay in a store will be reduced to a minimum, fleeting and quick, barely the time to pick and pay – obviously cashless. We will prefer large, safe shops, where we don’t meet too many people and don’t queue. Crowding will seem abnormal, a bit like the idea of smoking in a restaurant seems absurd today, whereas just over 15 years ago it was an ordinary habit.
And what about experiences? In Italy, around 60% of consumers shopped online during the pandemic, but only 10% of them found the experience satisfactory .
The moral lesson: retailers – even the physical ones! – to take advantage of the rich world of online shopping, will have to evolve their offer, necessarily opening up to digital, but with a remote sales service capable of offering a truly satisfying experience, which does not exclude the human dimension of contact and the relationship of trust with customers.
Second spoiler alert: we already have the solution to both issues.
With ShopCall video shopping, remote shopping is closer (and more human)
When the pandemic is over, nothing will be the same again: only retailers who have embraced the digital revolution filling it with quality and advantages will probably succeed.
In the Next Normal period, consumers will split: those who continue to exploit the advantages in terms of speed and safety of online shopping and those who will flock back to stores. Maybe just for snap shopping. However, very few will want to give up a shopping experience rich in value and more human: even today e-commerce can turn out to be cold and impersonal and shopping remotely can mean renouncing the precious advice of the shopkeeper.
How should we react?
Expanding the possibilities of choice, both for consumers and retailers. Online shopping does not necessarily have to be understood as a giant step and an all-encompassing choice, the exclusive prerogative of large stores or those who do not have a performing brick and mortar store.
Everyone, even small merchants, artisans or consultants, can exploit the web’s potential to offer products and services on a large scale without barriers while continuing to work in the store.
At the same time, selling online cannot and must not replace the experience of contact and relationship with the shopkeeper: after all, a video call is sufficient to welcome the customer in the store, break down distances and offer advice and support to consumers.
To do this, there is ShopCall : the first video shopping tool in Italy which, without requiring any installation and without the need to open an e-commerce channel, allows each store to sell online immediately adding the advantage of doing it in a video call, to give even more value to the shopping experience.
The pros of ShopCall? It guarantees very high-definition video calls to make every contact satisfying, and given that it is designed for sales, the purchase process begins and ends with a video call, just like in the store. With ShopCall the customer can make video calls in the store, get help in shopping from the trusted shopkeeper, choose the products they need and buy them directly online.
Or, you can simply get in touch with the merchant to find out what’s new or the latest arrivals, ask a few questions and decide to physically go to the store to buy, collect and say hello. But without staying long, so as not to feel too exposed and vulnerable.
The challenge is on. Shopping of the future will be digital, but with a human face.. Innovative, but with traditional quality. Remote, but closer.
Will businesses be able to change their skin?
With ShopCall will be easier.