Connecting Back To The Consumer
19 August 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
Whether you’re a consumer or a stay-at-home worker, we’ve all been forced to confront the growing rates of the digital way of doing things. There’s a lot of talk about technology being key to bridging the gap ready for our return to some kind of new normality – but as more time passes with no resolution in sight, we’re left wondering when the ‘new normal’ for humanity will be. As small brands and businesses try to charter the uncertain waters of a return to the brick-and-mortar store, will we always be returning to the digital world instead?
What is the current retail opinion?
It might all still be too early to call, but there have been two distinct approaches from businesses for how to tackle the ongoing problem of physical retail. Some place hope in the thought that the physical shopping experience could never be successfully replicated by any digital medium, while others are keen to seize the potential in the increasing number of empty shopfronts. In many places, this correlates to rent prices, which are being slashed in a bid to keep some form of high-street economy buoyant. Whether either of these options will be successful in the long run remains to be seen, but one thing that seems increasingly likely is the longing for real, human interaction the longer we spend digitally separated.
Why is there hope for brick-and-mortar?
According to a survey conducted by CGS, more than 2000 consumers across both the UK and US felt that the pandemic has “illuminated cracks in customer service”, with one of the main points to fix being a bigger presence of human contact. This is now seen as a make-or-break for consumers, leading us to draw the conclusion that no technology can ever fully replace the human interaction experience. There’s likely to be physical shopping anxiety for the next few months, so small brands need to prioritise addressing this to be able to maintain purpose. Keeping physical store design so that space is maximised will be key, alongside being adaptable to emphasise privacy while maintain as much connection as possible. Physical stores are still the heart of any community, and keeping the joy in a physically, well-designed store will help to keep the joy in the consumer’s return too.
Photo source: https://www.pexels.com/@cottonbro