The corona pandemic has changed the shopping behaviour of Germans – for both non-food and food. You shop more online, pay less often in cash and you like to have everything delivered to your home – this is how the trends can be summarized. But despite this change accelerated by the pandemic, Germany is lagging behind compared to other European countries, as Heinz Leopold, client partner at InterSearch Executive Consultants GmbH in Hamburg, explains.
Although 47 percent of Germans state that their shopping habits have changed due to the pandemic, this is below average in an international comparison. This is shown by the data in the current “FMCG Report” by the polling institute YouGov. In eleven of the 17 European countries examined, more than half of consumers say that their behavior is different. The international average is even 59 percent.
Online commerce is growing
Current data from the online monitor of the German Retail Association (HDE) make it clear that “Click & Collect”, i.e. the collection of goods that have been pre-ordered online or by phone, is becoming more important. At the same time, the sales of stationary retailers from the sale of goods via online marketplaces increased. 45 percent of stationary retailers are now also represented on the Internet, but not always with their own shop; they also join sales platforms.
Experience before a pure transaction
“Online sales will continue to increase”, predicts Leopold. What must be offered in retail in city centres, on the other hand, is a shopping experience, not just the shopping itself. “People like to be around people, they want to examine the products themselves before they buy.” Their own assessment always means more than the widely available online reviews. Do stationary retail in the city centres define itself only through the price, be it not to convey why consumers should go shopping in the city centres.
In today’s retail trade, the on-site shopping experience goes far beyond the mere purchase transaction, according to Leopold – especially when retailers offer an e-commerce shopping option. This applies to all ways of reaching and interacting with customers. “The shopping experience is a critical and differentiating component of retail today and in the future” says Leopold.
While the traditional shopping experience focused on how customers interacted with and felt about the business and the brand, today’s shopping experience must convey exactly the opposite, according to Leopold: The focus should be a customer-oriented omnichannel strategy that addresses the customer and their different expectations focus on the sales channels available to him in parallel.
The omnichannel manager is the key to success
Ideally, an omnichannel manager ensures that customers can experience the same language of the company on all channels across all platforms. The sales channels relevant to the company must be optimized in this context, not only to further boost sales, but also to create a comprehensive brand experience. Such experts also take on the strategic planning, management and control of all sales activities and the responsible employees.
“However, these are still rare skills, which is why we are specifically looking for people with these skills on behalf of our customers” explains Leopold. Most suitable candidates have already been active in channel management or sales marketing. “The best thing is an experience in both areas in order to manage the holistic customer and brand experience in all channels as omnichannel manager in the future” says Leopold.
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