I’ve heard it said that the covid lockdown has been good for independent food shops. Average spend is up and in many cases so are transaction volumes – Happy Days.

Disconcerting was the view that followed – which was that this was going to be the “New Normal”.

This is a foolhardy view as it fails to recognise what drives customer behaviours.

The way your customers are shopping now is very different from the way they used to shop just a few weeks ago. The reason why is simple – circumstances (and therefore customers needs) are very different now, to pre lockdown. In these new circumstances, Customers are choosing to shop for food less frequently and in fewer retailers, i.e. away from little and often shopping, to a weekly shop.

This change in customer behaviour means you are most likely seeing a core group of customers (more often) and they are spending more as they buy across more areas of the shop. You are also seeing new customers, who are drawn to you by their needs, which you meet better than any other retailer. These are your first key group of customers – current, active shoppers.

The change in circumstances also means that you’ve lost some customers who you have not seen since the lockdown and this is the second key group – Lockdown Lapsers. These are the most important customers you don’t have – as they used to shop with you (so are a better prospect than someone who has never shopped with you), but for the past 8 weeks they have been shopping (forming habits) with someone else. There ‘s a sizeable number of lapsers too – I’m seeing as much as a 50% drop in loyalty cards seen, post lockdown, which is likely to translate to the same proportions at total level

Keeping the existing customers shopping with their current buying habits and re-introducing as many of the lapsed customers as possible is crucial to emerging from lockdown in the best shape.

My angle is that the data you’re collecting in your EPOS tills will help you to better understand your customer behaviours and in doing so, you’ll be able to show your customers that you can meet their needs better and earn their repeat custom or win them back.

The actions you can take that will be most effective will be aimed at showing customers extra value for the extra spend they are currently giving you, and the spend they give you depends on how well you understand and deliver to your customers needs.

To discover how to look at the needs of each customer group, then read the latest article in our Smart Retailer series on identifying customer needs and behaviours



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