by Katie Serkes, Director, Customer Success
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The Changing Shape of the Retail Customer Journey During and After COVID-19

It is critical that retail leaders move quickly to understand how their customer journeys are changing and adapt to the new normal with the utmost urgency. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced retailers to respond to an unprecedented shift in customer needs and behaviors. U.S. consumers currently face a bleak macroeconomic picture, with growing numbers experiencing furloughs, job losses, and broad feelings of uncertainty.  The impact of the current crisis will transform industries globally and retail is no exception.  

In a recent McKinsey article outlining how marketing leaders can manage the crisis and prepare for the future, the authors suggest it is a matter of survival:

Companies that thrived after past recessions, we have learned, were those that kept communicating with consumers through the downturn, took a more active posture, focused on through-cycle interventions, and acted with urgency. Marketing leaders should consider how to re-architect their current marketing models, approaches, and tools to get ready for the turnaround.” 

Business leaders can adapt the framework below to help their marketing teams strategically communicate along the journey towards the “New Normal.” Leverage new sources of data and insights, powered by AI, to communicate with empathy and sensitivity, secure customer retention, and prepare for acquisition and growth as the economy bounces back.   

Identify how the changing climate impacts the retail customer journey

To plan for the four phases from crisis to a new normal, outline the specific challenges, key use cases, and messaging strategies for each customer need state during each stage of the crisis. Consider how your business can create positive customer experiences to drive value and loyalty beyond the coronavirus shock. 

Example: The Comfort need state of the customer journey in the Crisis Communications phase:

Utility

Comfort

Retail Therapy

Gifting

Use this framework as a guide to adapt your communications in preparation for the new normal. While retailers will need to focus on the lowest-hanging fruit in the short-term, leaders will have the opportunity to grow market share and fuel new growth by outperforming weaker competitors.

Note: This framework is part of a set of guiding principles for communicating effectively with customers on the path to a new normal.