Consumer appetite for online shopping and convenience will continue to accelerate post-lockdown, according to a new report from Capgemini. The study, The consumer and COVID-19: Global consumer sentiment research in the consumer products and retail industry, is based on a survey of 11,000 consumers across the US, UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Spain, India, and China.
Along with an increased appetite for convenience, researchers found consumers are becoming more concerned about health and wellness and will expect safer in-store and last-mile practices from CPR organisations in a post-pandemic scenario. And they found that CPR organisations that embody a sense of purpose and strong sustainability credentials will see greater consumer engagement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the significance of online channels, according to the study. Today, consumers consider online as their primary shopping channel and this will persist in the immediate future. In that digital-first environment, operational agility, flexibility and consumer engagement assume huge significance, the report says.
With more and more cities and urban areas under lockdown, non-essential businesses closing, and customers avoiding public places in general, interaction with physical stores has taken a heavy toll and online interaction is accelerating.
Capgemini found 59% of consumers worldwide said they had high levels of interaction with physical stores before COVID-19, but today less than a quarter (24%) see themselves in that high-interaction category. In the next six to nine months, 39% of consumers expect a high level of interaction with physical stores – clearly below the pre-COVID levels.
Meanwhile, 30% say that they had high levels of interaction with online channels before the crisis, but 37% would characterise themselves in that light today. In the next six to nine months, this interaction is expected to accelerate further.
The research shows that 77% of consumers will be more cautious about cleanliness, health, and safety in the postpandemic era. Nearly 62% will also switch to brands that show higher levels of product safety and 54% will prefer local items over imports due to safety concerns over the use of foreign products. Moreover, more than half of the consumers expect detailed product information (product origin, details, origin, etc.) – now and in a post-pandemic world as well. This increased consumer awareness translates into increasing demand for safety measures during in-store shopping and delivery.
Consumers are also becoming increasingly wary of what they perceive to be unsafe in-store practices, including touch-based interactions. More than 60% want their retailers to adopt safety practices in the store. More than half want retailers to reorganise their store layout to facilitate social distancing, 46% prefer to increase the use of in-store digital payments, and 41% opt for a non-touch based selfcheckout system (using their own phone, for instance) when shopping in the store.
Additionally, 57% would be more comfortable with complete in-store automation that does not require touch-based practices in a post-pandemic era (for example, product information search, in-store navigation, and order to payment is done on the consumer’s phone).
Although, consumers have become more cautious when it comes to their health and wellness, with 40% preferring disposable product packaging both today and in the next six to nine months; overall sustainability is also a key issue: 67% said that they will be more cautious about the scarcity of natural resources and 65% said that they will be more mindful about the impact of their overall consumption once the pandemic is over.