Whilst much of the world is returning to ‘normal’ after over a year of uncertainty and a huge shakeup of customer behaviour and shopping options, big challenges still remain for retail businesses and how they interact with customers who have developed a more hybrid approach to shopping. After relying on digital communication for a long period of time, how can businesses re-engage their existing customers as well as find new ones?
Using communication to restore confidence
Communication has become even more of a crucial factor for engaging consumers and instilling trust in businesses. The lessons learned from a greater reliance on digital communication during the last 12 months (as well as maintaining clear information on accessibility, covid practices and so on) are still relevant as face-to-face interactions become the norm again – and help to link customer experiences between online and offline, creating a unified ecosystem for your business.
Not only this, but communication can be a crucial differentiator in maintaining customer loyalty, too. According to Braze’s ‘Ready to Take Off’ report on the travel industry, 34% of global travellers say they would consider booking with another company if they didn’t get the communications they expected during their interactions with their initial travel company of choice.
Without engaging communication that provides some value to customers – whether information about the physical running of the business (opening times, in-store customer number limits, mask policies and so on), or marketing activities and promotion – it can be increasingly difficult to re-engage your customers.
A key lesson from the sudden shift to largely online-only customer interaction and shopping, alongside the importance of clear communication, is the need for effective tools and services to actively support consumers in maintaining their engagement with a business. As in-person shopping experiences became extremely limited, the need for digital alternatives were suddenly a top priority.
Now, with brick and mortar stores reopening, a flexible approach is necessary to keep up with customers who expect a digital service to be in place alongside a return to ‘normality’ and a full suite of regular offline shopping experiences. Without a flexible approach, relying solely on either offline or online, businesses risk failing to meet customer expectations and loose engagement.
Making sure you are where your customers are
Q2 2021 data from App Annie reveals a huge shift in in-app activity for mobile users over the course of the last two years, largely driven by the pandemic. Consumers in eight of sixteen regional markets studied now spend more than four hours using apps everyday. Brazil totted up the most time at an average of 5.4 hours per day, followed by Indonesia at 5.3 hours and India at 4.9 hours. Meanwhile the UK ranked tenth with an average of 3.8 hours in total.
This data suggests new habits formed during prolonged periods of lockdown in 2020 have been mostly sustained through to 2021, as time spent interacting with mobile apps has notably increased across the majority of markets compared to pre-pandemic levels. Global spending on apps in Q2 2021 also rocketed to $34 billion, up $7 billion year-on-year, and $2 billion quarter-on-quarter.