This is the final part of the 3-part series which will shed light on the shopping trends emerging post lockdown. The purpose of this 3-part series is to help retailers and merchants revive customer sentiments in the post lockdown period and promote spending. You can view Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

This article will cover four more key shopping trends emerging –

Be gentle, transparent, & patient

The need to be gentle with employees, customers, and suppliers was a widespread social theme that emerged in the retail industry. The unusual circumstances called for the need to be transparent with them about the challenges faced, and that only by everyone foregoing something can new things be built. Patience was to be exhibited in dealing with the customer. To be mindful of payments to suppliers was necessitated in order for the cash-flow engine to begin cranking.

The need to communicate with all stakeholders constantly and consistently about the challenges faced, the steps taken, and the future. The need to ensure employees’ safety, and their gainful employment. The need to focus on agility rather than intellect, since the competence that made one successful in the past, may not be enough to help navigate this new world.

Do-it-Yourself (DIY) – It is fun, and it saves money

Lockdown has exposed Indians to the joys of doing things themselves.  In a society where paid labor was available for doing most of the day-to-day tasks such as cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, and repairing things, the lockdown has helped Indians discover the joy of doing things on their own. It is fun and saves money.  With labor availability likely to continue to be an issue for some time, this forced discovery may become a habit for some.

This may lead to the need for buying tools and kits.  Also, an opportunity to engage with the consumers in not just supplying them with things but helping them develop skills for using them.  A less obvious but significant change that this may lead to is an enhanced sense of quality and design.  As consumers make things (start doing things) themselves, they may start appreciating the convenience and delight of using higher quality and better-designed products.

In the mid to long run, this change will likely help drive the sale of higher value products.  The money saved from employing labor may get applied to buy superior quality, well designed branded products.

Buying in larger packs – the need to store for a rainy day

In the pre-COVID era, the easy availability of provisions through a deep and wide network of local Kirana stores had led to consumers buying in small quantities and buying fresh.  A prolonged lockdown has forced consumers to often buy alternatives to their favorite brands, creating a fear of shortage.  This will likely lead to a behavioral change with people buying larger packs of their favorite products – the need to store for a rainy day.  This may also bring to fore the opportunity to save and change the habit for the long term, with the frequency of visits going down and the basket size going up.

Data suggests this. The average basket size in the food & grocery segment continues to be 20% higher than it was in Jan.

Only relevant offers please – money available is limited

With offers available in plenty, cutting through the clutter with sharp, relevant offers for the consumer may be key.  While this is easy in the online space, in the offline space this may lead to a digital transformation in checkout and payment systems.

Brands may need to share consumers to reduce the cost of marketing to them. Brands, banks, and retailers may collaborate to make transactions happen that are mutually beneficial and non-conflicting.  This may trigger the need for deeper integration of CRM, billing, payments, and accounting systems.  SKU linked promotions where budgets can be shared by the SKU brand, retailer, and the bank whose card is being used to pay for it may help each of the entities grow faster with lesser efforts.

Agility in creating and modifying promotions in real-time, sharply targeted at specific products in specific customer segments will help reduce marketing efforts. Non-compete retail brands can collaborate to extend offers to customers thereby improving customer loyalty and reducing the need for expensive marketing.

With this, the 3 part series on retail trends is concluded.

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