Insight6, Northern Ireland’s Customer Experience specialists has a province wide base of researchers, we asked them about their feelings regarding shopping and venturing out, and we got responses from over 200.
The headlines from the research are as follows:
When asked ‘How confident are you about visiting your local town centre?’, the results were mixed. Only 25% were fully confident – rated 9 or 10 out of 10, and 45% were not confident – rating 6 out of 10 or less.
On an NPS scale, the result was minus 16, and the average score was 6.6 out of 10.
This seems to suggest that there is trepidation out there, plus plenty of work to do to build confidence.
There were lots of comments that support these ratings. The words used overwhelmingly in the survey were ‘social distancing’, ‘enforce’, and ‘ensure’. People seemed to be saying the Social Distancing must be in place on the street and in shops, and that the safety measures must be enforced by shop staff and / or the authorities.
We asked researchers whether the Pandemic would mean they are more or less likely to shop online. Before Covid19, online sales accounted for approximately 19% of the market, and had hovered around that mark for some time, a measure published back in May said this had increased to 25%.
Our survey showed that just over 40% expected to shop more online, with 49% expecting to shop online at the same levels. Only 11% expect their online shopping to decrease. I am sure it is no surprise that it would appear that online shopping is only likely to increase.
The increase creates further challenges for High Street businesses already feeling the strain. There have been a number of initiatives to get people out and about, particularly in the Food and Beverage sector, but footfall is still low.
We also asked people about their intentions to shop locally and 52% said they would shop more locally. Some of the anecdotal evidence that supported this was:
- People seemed to be saying they would go shopping less often and closer to home
- There is mistrust of large shops, shopping centres and malls
- People would like to support local businesses
- They will go to shops they know well and take safety seriously – back to the enforcement point
On the face of it, this is bad news for High Street businesses. The mix of low footfall, more people used to using online services than before Covid19, and over half of people reluctant to venture out too far, would appear to put High Street businesses in a predicament.
However, there are signs that people are waiting to be influenced, the businesses that make sure people know that safety is paramount, and will be enforced rigidly stand more chance of attracting shoppers. Overlay that with a great customer experience, which is better that online shopping, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
So what can businesses do?
- Make sure people know you are open, and you have put in place all possible safety measures – shout about it online, social media, your website
- Make sure your staff are ready to enforce safety measures, and it can be done in a nice way – no exceptions
- Make sure the customer experience is excellent, people miss product demonstrations, looking and feeling, choosing, discussing suitability, getting advice etc..
- Make sure you deliver what you are good at.