We know consumers’ priority right now is to keep themselves and family out of harm’s way. So far that has meant social distancing and following the stay-at-home orders in their state. It has also meant that it has led to a significant rise in online ordering across delivery and order for pickup.
According to new data from Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, U.S. e-commerce jumped 49% in April, compared to the baseline period in early March before restrictions went into effect.
However, with many states starting to relax their restrictions, it means consumers will have an opportunity to venture back out to visit local businesses with the partial re-opening of salons, movie theaters, on-site dining, and additional retailers allowed to offer curbside pickup. But what remains to be seen is how much consumers will still feel safe and actually take advantage of this relaxation of the quarantine rules.
A recent Rakuten Ready survey found that over 50% of consumers will still wait at least 3 months before eating in a restaurant dining room when possible. (source: Rakuten Ready, April 2020)
For merchants to have any chance at all, it will be critical to take every opportunity to spotlight all that is being done to keep customers safe as we enter an evolving future. It all starts with really understanding what customers expect so they are able to continue feeling safe enough to change their behavior and expand the merchants they will give their business.
To better understand what consumers expect, Rakuten Ready recently asked “What areas should a business focus on to make you feel safer in the future?”
(Note: consumers could choose more than one answer)
Since the pace of life has slowed down consumers are now connected to their community and neighborhood more than ever. Consumers are shouting in the evening to support frontline workers and drawing messages of hope in chalk on their driveways. All because they are taking the better connect with neighbors and community. They also check Facebook more often and look to hyper-local app Nextdoor for their local news.
In fact, consumers are so hungry for local information, the Nextdoor has seen an 80% increase in engagement since March.
Merchants must develop a communication plan that bridges any gaps in what is happening in their local locations. Communicating changes at the corporate level are helpful but what customers are really after to feel comfortable is open and transparent communication. They want to know what is happening outside at their location while everyone is staying inside. Does their local store have new hours? What improvements have been made to the contactless pickup experience? Any special offers specific to their area?
Whether it is a text, email or social post, it is critical that businesses communicate often and honestly at the local level about what they are doing in response to COVID-19.
You need to answer the customer question… What changes are they making in my community and how will it make me safer?
Consumers know that any open business will have implemented contactless protocols if they want to stay in business and build customer trust. However, customers are also assessing what else is being done as we learn more and the situation evolves to keep me safe?
Depending on whether you are a retailer, grocer, or restauranter you will need to keep updating and optimizing contactless safety measures for the foreseeable future. You cannot afford to set it and forget because customers are looking to ensure that businesses are upgrading as the situation evolves.
Keep focused on what contactless protocols make sense for your business and what is happening with other merchants nearby and across the country. Contactless protocols that are becoming more common and will be more prevalent in the future include checkout partitions, closed changing rooms, outside-only dining, designated pickup zones, single-use PPE kits and contactless payment only when on-site.
Customers do also think about employee safety as well, with 75% saying that “keeping employees safe” is very important to them when their order is prepared (source: Rakuten Ready Survey, April 2020).
The future will no doubt bring new and innovative contactless protocols that we can’t even imagine, it is really important that businesses keep their focus on this important strategy PLUS communicate any updates if they want to keep building customer trust and make them feel safe
Technology and innovation go hand-in-hand with safety so it is no surprise that consumers rank this very high as necessary for them to feel comfortable shopping from their favorite merchants.
Customers want a fast, seamless, and convenient buying experience that reduces the risk of being on-site for too long and makes it easy to pick up once they get there.
Over 68% of consumers said they would not feel safe waiting more than five minutes to pick up their order once on-site (source: Rakuten Ready Survey, May 2020).
So whether it is increasing the contactless payment options in the store, adding smart robots to bring orders to cars, or using curbside arrival technology to shorten wait times, technology innovation is a must-have for businesses looking to keep customers safe.
At Rakuten Ready, as the leaders in predictive arrival technology, we focus on delivering a seamless, efficient, and safe experience. Our ARRIVE platform accurately predicts when a customer is approaching so it can alert employees and they can ensure orders are ready on time.
Our ARRIVE technology is fundamentally different from geofence or beacon platforms and outperforms them through the use of machine learning that leverages real-time activities, trends, and traffic patterns.
Rakuten Ready has years of proven mobile order for pickup experience with brands of all sizes, so we can help. Connect with us to understand how ARRIVE can assist your brand through these challenging times.
Learn More about ARRIVE