The report notes that some brands are reaping the rewards of adjusting their services to meet the shift in consumer demands. Yet it cautions that taking advantage of these opportunities will require ongoing and careful analysis to anticipate which of these new consumer behaviours will stick and then adapting their portfolios and financial models accordingly.
"Companies must boost their analytics capabilities to understand the pandemic’s impact on their businesses at a local level — tracking its effect on local businesses and employment and people’s level of comfort in returning to pre-COVID activities," said Kelly Askew, a managing director with Accenture Strategy. "In addition to making consumers comfortable re-engaging outside the home through strict health and safety measures, retailers should carefully assess their physical assets — i.e., which stores to keep open and what inventory to stock, taking into account, for example, if they should leverage some of their store footprint for micro-fulfilment to support e-commerce growth. They might also experiment with temporary spaces, such as pop-ups in local communities."
The latest research supports Accenture’s previous findings that the changes in consumer behaviour, such as the dramatic rise in e-commerce since the start of the pandemic, are likely to remain or accelerate further. For instance, the proportion of online purchases by infrequent e-commerce users in Canada — i.e., those who used online channels for less than 25% of purchases prior to the outbreak — has increased 176% since the outbreak.
Further, the survey found that consumers who have increased usage of digitally enabled services (e.g., contactless payment, in-app ordering and curbside pickup) and have turned to digital customer service channels (e.g., website or mobile app, mobile messaging with virtual agent, or online chat with a chatbot) expect to sustain an increased level of usage.
Consumers using omnichannel services are likely to continue doing so