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This article was originally published by Moneris. Content and images courtesy of Moneris.
There’s no doubt the current pandemic we’re all facing has changed our way of life – and we’re not just talking about having to wear masks at the grocery store.
The way we shop, spend money, and interact with each other has drastically changed in a matter of months. But will we see some of these trends continue after the pandemic has ended? All signs point to yes, as a global survey from Ernst & Young found that 42% of consumers believe the way they shop will fundamentally change due to COVID-19.
Consider these five pandemic-driven buying habits as you operate your business today – and moving forward.
Increase in Online Shopping
Not surprisingly, many consumers are flocking to the internet to do all of their shopping online, with consumer spending up 30.1% from 2019. This trend was already starting to develop before the pandemic with websites like Amazon, making it easy to purchase everything you need in one place.
The same is true in the restaurant sector. The survey found 21% of consumers are now ordering online from restaurants, up from 13% in mid-April.
The need for socially-distanced shopping has accelerated this digital-first phenomenon, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. Online shopping for over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, groceries, household supplies, and personal-care product purchasing has grown by 35%. Even discretionary categories such as skincare and makeup, apparel, jewelry and accessories show expected customer growth of more than 15 percent.
Key Tip: Ensuring your product or service is available for purchase online isn’t just important these days – it’s essential.
If you opened your online store as a temporary measure to stay afloat, make it a permanent part of your offering. An end-to-end ecommerce solution will ensure that you keep up with the increased demand for online shopping while simplifying how you do business. Moneris Online helps keep your business running ensuring you have everything you need to easily build your website, accept online payments, and manage your online store.
Shopping Local & Supporting Small Business
The pandemic has brought small communities together in a way that nobody saw coming. The idea of “we’re all in this together” has permeated through our neighbourhoods and has resulted in 76% of shoppers more determined to shop locally than ever before. In fact, 34% of consumers indicate that they would pay more for local products.
The ‘shop local’ trend will stick around beyond the pandemic as consumers seek out more distinctive, unique, and locally sourced options.
Key Tip: If you’re a small independent business owner, make sure your clientele knows it. Host community events/sales and try your best to build relationships with your customers. Word-of-mouth marketing is key here. You should also make sure your store is easy to find by displaying eye-catching signage and adding your business to local shopping directories.
If you’re a small local restaurant, make sure you’re offering online ordering and delivery to let your customers support you from afar. Partnering with UEAT will provide you with a personalized and frictionless online ordering system to boost sales and secure recurring customers. On top of that, UEAT boasts lower fees than popular delivery apps like Uber Eats and Skip the dishes.
Another trend that was accelerated by the pandemic is the availability of curbside pickup. By allowing customers to “click-and-collect”, small business owners can save on shipping costs, leverage in-store inventory, and increase overall sales by, on average, 23%. Providing curbside pickup options also makes shopping easier by allowing customers to safely browse products whenever and wherever they want. Offering this sort of flexibility ensures your business doesn’t get left behind in a world where omnichannel retail is rapidly growing.
Key Tip: If you already have a local customer base, or want to attract more local customers, consider offering curbside pickup as an option – especially if you’re a restaurant.
To ensure the experience is as smooth as possible, try to provide onsite signage and send personalized communications like confirmation emails or text messages to let your customer know their order is ready.
Contactless Payment Processing
Many Canadians prefer contactless payment options during the current pandemic, with 68% claiming they plan on paying this way moving forward, which suggests a permanent shift in Canadian mindset and behaviours.
Coinciding with this shift, major credit card companies raised their tap payment limits from $100 to $250. A recent study shows Canadians have gotten used to the change – roughly 62% are using less cash, and 42% say they avoid shopping where contactless payment options aren’t available.
Besides being the safest way to pay, it’s also the fastest and most convenient. Being able to pay with your phone’s mobile wallet – or even your watch – means never having to worry about forgetting your cash or physical wallet at home. With cash payments in decline and contactless payment technology advancing the way it is, you can expect this trend to continue.
Key Tip: Make sure you offer contactless payment options and keep your customers updated about all the different ways they can pay. There are a few key features to look for in a good contactless payment processor, all of which are all available with Moneris Go, the newest addition to our terminal lineup.
Also, to make it clear you accept mobile wallet payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay etc.), display the proper signage at your checkout counter.
Health and Hygiene Habits
With a heightened focus on germs and sanitization, many businesses are implementing more thorough health and hygiene practices around their shops. Looking back, it’s almost shocking to think most stores rarely sanitized their POS devices before the pandemic.
Moving forward, you can expect a greater level of detail when it comes to keeping retail stores clean and sanitary. Whenever the pandemic ends, we’ll all be more conscious of our personal space, our hand washing tendencies, and what we feel comfortable touching (door handles, handrails, counter-tops, etc.)
Key Tip: Provide your customers with peace-of-mind by keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer by the front door or at the checkout counter. Knowing that everyone who enters the store has been using sanitizer will make your customers feel more comfortable as they browse.
It’s vitally important to sanitize your POS terminal to keep both your customers and employees safe.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.