The closure of non-essential stores in March 2020 in the UK and lockdowns across the world, opened up a possible permanent shift in consumer behaviour. In turn, with retail owners unsure when they would lift the shutters again they swiftly adopted new strategies in order to serve customers and, ultimately, for the company to survive.

The first notable change in consumer behaviour was the turn to social media, websites and online forums to learn about products and make purchases. For retail owners, this meant moving online was the natural direction. This entailed either updating and perfecting their online platforms or beginning their journey online from scratch and deciding where to be. Most have thrived at this and their strategy paid off, as overall, online sales rose to a record high of 33.9% as a share of all retail spending (ONS, 2021).

To further adapt their strategies, a recent survey from Apteco, which included respondents from retail, found that over the past year:

  • 50% changed their marketing approach and moved online
  • 39% changed the style of their communications
  • 36% changed the frequency of communication

Adapting strategies to reach customers is vital to survive, and these actions and decisions must be based on insights. When it comes to this, it’s important not to underestimate the power of in-depth data from your social media accounts to influence your wider strategy. Particularly as social media marketing tools can provide you with a great deal of understanding into your audience demographic and their behaviours, in terms of where, when and what content they want to see from you.

By investing time and money into exploring marketing technology retail owners are enabled to rely on software to gather important data, and instead spend more time on the high value work to drive sales. For those unfamiliar with what marketing tools can tell you, we’ll, naturally, use Locowise as an example. As a social media reporting tool we highlight:

  • The best time for you to post, for each platform you use
  • The content type most engaged with
  • The ideal post frequency – should you posts once per day, four times a week etc
  • Your sentiment score, so you can see how liked your posts are
  • What are your competitors doing, stay ahead of the game
  • Do you use a specific hashtag, has it got off the ground?
  • Your predicted follower growth
  • And so much more!

As life starts to gradually return to normal and the long awaited sound of stores lifting their shutter again returns, it’s important for retail owners not to consider bricks and mortar or online as an ‘either or’, but as an omnichannel approach. This will help you maintain a presence to suit all customer needs and that you are where they want you to be, at the right time and with the right message. With this, it’s important to continue to review online activity as consumer behaviour will undoubtedly change.