Reaching the first anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is a dubious milestone. It’s good to have a year behind us, but there is still a difficult road ahead. That’s especially true for small and medium-sized (SMB) retailers that have spent a year trying to stay viable and are now challenged to meet new consumer expectations. Making the right moves now are critical to the future of these businesses.
One way you can help your clients is to share insights from research, such as SOTI’s From Bricks to Clicks: State of Mobility in Retail 2021 Report, to help them make informed decisions about their businesses.
The survey, commissioned by SOTI and performed by Arlington Research, asked 6,000 consumers in eight markets worldwide about a variety of retail engagements and the experiences they expect as customers.
These three findings are particularly valuable to SMB retailers and the value-added reseller (VAR) that provide solutions and services to them:
1Delivery is the New Black
Throughout social distancing and stay-at-home orders, consumers embraced online ordering, but the survey found that 57 percent are frustrated by the shipping and delivery experiences retailers offer.
Furthermore, 29.5 percent of North American consumers say they buy from brands that can deliver the quickest – and if delivery takes more than two days, they’ll shop elsewhere. Also, about half of North American consumers expect to be able to pick up an item at a store or curbside the same day they place an online order.
Consumers also expect visibility after they place an online order. The SOTI report states that about one-third want to know where the order is from the time they place the order until it arrives on their doorstep.
SMB retailers may find that in addition to offering the right merchandise at the right prices, a key to success is delivering or arranging for pickup as quickly as possible.
2Solving the Return Dilemma
The survey found that consumers placing online orders, whether to stay socially distanced or for convenience, want the return process to be as easy as the ordering process. The survey found:
- 63 percent of consumers want easier returns, preferably automated processes.
- 61 percent of U.S. consumers say they’d buy more from a store if making a return is easy.
Overcoming this challenge can help win customers and build loyalty, and it may even give SMB retailers an edge over some of their larger competitors with clunky return processes.
3No Security, No Sale
As consumer behaviors shifted to making more purchases online, they’ve also become more protective of their payment information. The survey found that 47 percent of North American consumers have abandoned an online purchase because they didn’t trust the retailer’s site with their payment data. That same number, 47 percent, say they have concerns about SMB retailers’ ability to keep their data secure, but 57 percent trust larger, well-known brands to protect their payment data.
Deploying effective security solutions and raising awareness with customers can help put their minds at ease.
The Opportunity for VARs
As a point of sale (POS) VAR or a solutions or service provider working in the retail vertical, you are well-positioned to help your SMB retail clients address these expectations and provide the types of experiences their customers demand.
Evaluate your portfolio to see if the solutions you provide have features that can manage delivery, in-store pickups, and returns – and provide consumers with visibility into their shipments. If you don’t currently offer solutions that provide these capabilities, it’s time to form new partnerships to provide complementary solutions that will integrate with your client’s systems.
Also, talk with your payments partners about online payment security and how your SMB retailers can indicate to their customers that security is a high priority. CVV or ZIP code verification, using encryption, tokenization that eliminates the need to store payment data in the POS system, and even security-related marketing and messaging on the payments page can raise consumers’ comfort level when making a purchase.
Additionally, with the changes that SMB retailers have made to their operations recently, your clients may need more robust solutions for inventory management, mobility, labeling, supply chain and vendor management solutions to enhance their efficiency.
A Lot is Riding on SMB Retail Decisions in 2021
One additional finding from the SOTI report is imperative for your SMB retailer clients to understand: More than 50 percent of consumers say that one negative online shopping experience is enough to destroy their trust in a brand. Step up and use your tech and industry expertise to make sure your clients have the tools and help they need to make sure that never happens.