Small businesses are facing increasing challenges in keeping up with consumer demands. With the merging of pre- and post-pandemic habits, consumer behavior is changing rapidly. Although it is uncertain how many of these activities will remain entrenched, small business owners need to remain vigilant and adapt to changing consumer retail buying patterns.
One trend that has emerged is click-and-collect, which has gained popularity during the pandemic. Consumers are shopping online more frequently, including baby boomers who previously preferred in-store shopping. As a result, click-and-collect services, which encompass buy online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup, have become the norm. In-store retailers that added these services are no longer losing significant dollar volume to traditional e-commerce delivery or in-store shopping. Therefore, it is essential for small businesses to make it easy for customers to shop and collect their merchandise, with ample parking and the option to choose their own pickup time.
Another service that is gaining popularity among today’s consumers is buy-now-pay-later (BNPL). According to InsiderIntelligence/eMarketer, BNPL usage increased over the holidays and is expected to continue to grow. By 2026, almost 40% of internet users are predicted to have used a BNPL solution.
Digital coupons are also increasingly popular among American consumers, with 67% using them, and 90% accessing them on their smartphones. Millennials, the country’s largest generation of consumers, prefer to receive coupons via email and appreciate percent-off coupons over dollar discounts. Coupon usage rises during times of economic uncertainty, as consumers seek to find the best deals.
Loyalty programs are crucial to keep consumers loyal, with 78% stating that good loyalty programs influence their purchases or make them more likely to do business with a company. However, the old-school approach to loyalty programs is no longer working, as rising costs have made 58% of consumers less likely to be loyal to a business. To encourage loyalty, businesses must offer more value, like personalized perks or programs that allow them to customize their rewards.
Product discovery has also changed significantly, with 61% of consumers beginning their product hunt at Amazon, followed by search engines, Walmart.com, YouTube, and Facebook. However, there are generational differences. While Gen X and millennials prefer online search and social media, respectively, Gen Z prefers short-form videos on social media.
Finally, hybrid shopping, a combination of online and in-person shopping, is becoming increasingly popular. It reduces stress and provides convenience, with 56% of consumers wanting the option to shop online and in-store. Businesses must adapt to offer hybrid shopping options to remain competitive.
In conclusion, small businesses must remain alert to changing consumer behavior and adapt quickly to remain competitive. Offering convenience, value, and personalized perks along with hybrid shopping options will drive more customers to their businesses.