New research from CodeBroker—“Consumer Shopping Habits During the Covid-19 Pandemic”—offers some useful insights for retailers who have been hard hit during the pandemic. The retail market has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, yet not all retailers are being impacted the same way.
There have been many high-profile announcements from retailers announcing store closures—American Eagle Outfitters and GameStop are among them. Yet some retailers are not only surviving, but thriving, during this environment. Dollar General, for instance, has actually seen its sales soar during the pandemic according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, despite the 18 retailers who filed chapter 11.
The research offers some insights into best practices that can help retailers remain relevant, and profitable, during these challenging times.
Beating the Behemoth: Opportunities to Out-market Amazon
Perhaps one of the most compelling outcomes of this research is the opportunity for retailers to successfully compete against retail giant Amazon. While 65% of respondents said that they have been shopping more at Amazon and less at their other favorite retailers online, they also indicate that retailers have an opportunity to change these shopping patterns—through mobile or digital coupons.
Even during the pandemic, coupons are as popular as ever; coupon offers are a key way for retailers to not only retain customers, but to defend against Amazon during the pandemic—75% of respondents said they would choose another retailer over Amazon if offered a savings coupon.
Driving In-Store Traffic Through High-Value Coupons
In addition to discounts, respondents also provided some insights into other strategies or tactics that could influence their shopping behavior. For instance, 70% said that free shipping on returns would motivate them to buy online. In general, free returns give online shoppers the security to take their business to the web. With online purchases at their highest levels for many shoppers, combined with tighter budgets for many, free shipping on returns will go a long way.
It’s also interesting to note that while the pandemic continues, not all consumers are averse to shopping at physical store locations. In fact, now that many stores are reopening, 53% of respondents said they are planning to go back into their favorite stores.
When It Comes to Coupons, Mobile is Far Preferred
Even those respondents indicating that they had no plans to return to physical store locations can be persuaded with the right incentive—high-value mobile/digital coupons. When asked, “if you’re not planning to shop at your favorite stores’ locations, would high-value mobile or digital coupons for in-store use get you to change your mind and visit?,” 61% said yes.
In terms of their couponing preferences, mobile coupons lead by a landslide; only 23% said they preferred paper coupons (compared to 77% who prefer mobile coupons). The preference for mobile coupons has steadily climbed among shoppers, growing by 10% since last year and 30% from 2018.
High-value coupons, delivered via mobile devices, pack a double whammy for consumers. This represents a great opportunity for retailers to leverage their CRM systems to send personalized coupons directly to key customers based on their shopping history—and to drive traffic among new customers through attractive discount offers.
Protecting Your Bottom Line
While consumers are clearly indicating that their shopping habits can be influenced through the right kinds of offers, retailers need to be cautious in terms of how they generate these offers. For instance, it’s important to use single-use coupons and specific offers to ensure that coupons intended for specific customers aren’t passed along to others, and that offers can’t be used more than once.
For retailers willing to explore new ways of reaching out to consumers based on their shifting preferences, opportunities abound to drive sales and loyalty. High-value mobile coupons have the ability to drive sales both online and in-store, while free returns can help retailers compete online.
About the Research
More than 1,400 U.S. consumers participated in the survey, in which 54% were female and 46% male. About 80% reported household incomes of $25,000+. Responses by age were split closely between 24-39 (29%) and 40-55 (30%), with 23% of respondents being over the age of 55 and 18% from ages 18-23.