The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a digital shift in consumer behavior, and retailers need to adapt their customer experience.
According to the fourth annual State of the Connected Consumer survey from Salesforce, consisting of over 12,000 consumer responses across 27 countries including the U.S., 58% of respondents expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before.
In both 2020 and 2021, respondents estimate 60% of their interactions with companies will occur online, compared to 42% in 2019. Almost nine in 10 (88%) expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to the pandemic.
Eighty percent of respondents say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. This includes consistent interactions across departments (76%). More than half (54%) of respondents generally feel like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information.
In addition, seven in 10 (69%) respondents prioritize convenience over brand, and 83% say they have come to expect flexible shipping and fulfillment options such as curbside pickup or buy-online-pick-up-in-store.
And while 71% expect the pandemic to shift how they think about their personal information, only 27% completely understand how companies are using their personal information. More than eight in 10 (82%) respondents say a company’s trustworthiness matters more than a year ago, and 61% say it is difficult for a company to earn their trust. Both of these metrics are up from 2019 (73% and 54%, respectively).
“Regardless of who they market, sell or provide services to, businesses are navigating a landscape they couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this year,” said Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist at Salesforce. “A massive shift to digital channels isn’t the only challenge that leaders have to grapple with. They also need to listen and respond to customer demands for empathy and understanding, innovative products and services, and a fundamental rethinking of the role of businesses in society. Connecting customers’ various touch points — digital, human or otherwise—to gain a holistic understanding is the first step on the path to resiliency and growth.”