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1. Digital is the new front door for brands in the customer-led era

The explosion in digital engagement driven by Covid-19 is well beyond anything brands could have anticipated two years ago. Not only has the number of people online grown, but the level of deep engagement has equalled that growth. Countdown.co.nz has experienced a 55 percent increase in digital traffic with around 60 percent of its customers who shop in-store starting their shopping journey online or in apps. Significantly, two in five customers connect with Countdown digitally every week.

 

2. The shopping journey is no longer linear but rather a hybrid experience

For many customers shopping is now a hybrid, omnichannel experience based on personal preferences. For some, this means continuing to shop in-store only, but for an increasing cohort of customers, this means researching and planning their shopping experience before they go in-store. And for others, it will be planning and buying everything online. 

Countdown has unearthed some important insights when it comes to how their customers shop. They are researching the latest specials in the digital catalogue, check for personalised specials in Onecard Boost emails, search recipes and build meal plans, or navigate their local store with the sort-by-aisle shopping list feature in the Countdown app.

 

3. Customer-centricity – as change accelerates, it is the one constant

Retail is going through such incredible change as we listen to customers and the way they want to shop. Retail at its core is about getting great products to customers – but the new customer landscape is about curating the range, personalising the value, having a great store experience or delivering direct to where customers are.

Stores will remain the cornerstone of Countdown. But the way customers interact with them will change and the focus is on building great digital products that enhance the experience in-store. Countdown believes retailers who put the digital needs of customers first and invest in truly great experiences will be rewarded for it with increased loyalty. Customers are demanding fast, safe ways to shop, with more inspiring, relevant experiences, and better value.

Convenience has become increasingly important – whether it is a short, specific window, or those who ‘want it now’. They are looking for real time anticipation of their needs to help save time. Personalised, connected, and consistent journeys across the ecosystem are key, with an omnichannel experience based on personal preferences. All aspects of customers’ online journeys need to be relevant – from content, like recipes and product recommendations, to value offers and rewards.

Countdown draws on a rich base of insight to deeply understand how to create better experiences for customers – based on trends around where, when and how they prefer to shop. Activating the digital ecosystem to deliver a seamless, connected customer experience and engage more effectively – in relevant ways and at appropriate times – is a huge opportunity for brands.

It’s important to be open to change and ready to adapt – if the last few years taught brands anything it’s that they need to be prepared to pivot based on changing environments and customer needs. The pace of change may not be the same, but it is crucial brands continue to tailor digital experiences to put customers first. The customer is in control. They call the shots over what they see, where they see it and how they buy it. 

This article was first published in the 22/23 December/January issue of NZ Marketing magazine.

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