Retail is re-opening, the joy of shopping is once again tangible and experience will be everything for the success of physical retail. How are customers going to be engaged in this coronavirus era, and what might a new normal look like for them, and you, the retailers and brands?

Consumers have a changed mindset regarding physical shopping. With the temporary closure of bricks-and-mortar stores, there has been a universal shift on-line. For non-essential shopping there is now a need for brands and retailers to drive a greater connection and begin the journey to entice customers back into stores.

We see consumers navigating through three emotional mindsets;

Uncertain – continuing to shop on-line, visiting stores out of necessity
Cautious – accepting that retail is physically safe and now shopping for non-essential items; the novelty of shopping again.
Reassured – confident to return to store and desire the shopping experience. They want, and expect, a meaningful experience.

And a journey back to some kind of nomalized retail in three distinct phases, each of which meets the needs of the changed consumer mindset.

Connect
Protect
Experience

Brands and retailers have found ways to connect with their loyal consumers and attract new ones in an environment where authenticity and emotional alignment is key if they are to encourage them back into physical retail spaces.

They’ve been activating or strengthening their use of digital formats to maintain engagement. Moving forward, empowering sales staff as an extension of the omnichannel strategy, allowing them to connect locally with consumers, drive engaging content from the store to personalise the experience, will be powerful tools in reaching shoppers. And finally, communicating to drive awareness of store opening, the physical protection measures activated and what consumers can expect when they visit is the key starting point in convincing those uncertain and cautious mindsets.

Research indicates that consumers will return to bricks-and-mortar shopping in search of immersive experiences. Despite online retail benefiting during the lockdown and many brands really pivoting their service offering and accelerating their omnichannel strategy, Fujitsu UK head of retail, Nigel Naylor-Smith, comments in Retail Gazette, that on-line shopping “cannot rival the in-store experience that consumers still love”.

But, how to do that in this age of Coronavirus where shoppers will, even when of a reassured mindset, at least for the foreseeable future, be nervous to physically interact with traditional touch experiences?

We’ve been busy exploring two differing options for our clients; firstly, how to deliver fully immersive and interactive experiences for new products and services and secondly, what solutions we can develop to retro-fit to existing experiences and protect that initial, and often significant, pre-covid retail investment.

Connecting shoppers with the brands and products they love in physical shopping environments, that’s what we do at Alrec. Get in touch at marketing@alrec.com to discuss how we can help with the “new normal” retail experience.