Raise your hand if you’ve been a little traumatized by how long this pandemic has dragged! It’s okay to feel like you’re alone, but guess what? We all feel the same way too!
It’s now just over a year since the lockdowns were imposed, and with the vaccine rollouts underway, making plans to visit your favorite Starbucks for a decaf frappe may be an excellent way to maintain positive mental health.
While many other people won’t miss walking into a crowded mall to do some window shopping, the idea of being cut off from all human connection is not sustainable either.
It took a horrible pandemic to remind us of the need to feel concerned over our immediate environment. While millions of people worldwide cannot wait to take off their masks, there’s still a large number of people who will continue to hold on to the lessons from this catastrophic pandemic. Which side will you belong to?
Irrespective of the decisions you make or the side you choose, we have now realized the importance of day-to-day connections in our lives and how critical it is towards our sanity. Nonetheless, a great uncertainty surrounds the post-pandemic life experience. The way we hang out at restaurants, go to school, attend meetings or even go grocery shopping may never be the same again.
According to a recent poll conducted by Grammedit, a large portion of people are not entirely sure they’d like to return to normal “IRL (In-Real-Life) shopping activities this year – 2021.
WHAT IS “IRL Shopping”?
How we define IRL shopping depends grossly on our individual shopping habits. For a fraction of people, IRL shopping is the traditional pre-pandemic shopping method that involves the face-to-face approach where buyers and sellers engage with each other at a business place. It is the new post-pandemic reality that we, unfortunately, have to embrace for some other people. According to Sivo Insights IRL shopping entails taking ‘an experience from the virtual world and transferring it to the here and now, your reality’.
With the new reality staring right at us in the face, how exactly do we cope in a post-pandemic era? What will shopping be like? Will we feel safe with other people while cramped up together at indoor concerts? Are we ready to go back into the previous ways of shopping in traditional stores? How will we stare at the shopper who repeatedly coughs while standing right beside us?
All these questions seem to increase our deep-seated anxiety and somehow, we do not seem ready to respond to the questions. The previous ways of doing In-Real-Life (IRL) shopping may have just become altered, forever. This is a chapter of life our grandchildren will only come to know about through history books.
Grammedit’s Founder Patience Ose, once quoted, “the more things change, the more they are altered forever…” This content highlights her three major strategies for small businesses when coping in a post-pandemic shopping world.
1. Be Mindful: Take Your Customers Cautions Into Consideration
Typically, nothing would be wrong with walking to the store to grab a bottle of water in the pre-pandemic world. Still, with the current wave of change, we are all being more mindful of our environment, for our safety and the safety of other shoppers.
As lockdowns are relaxed, small retail businesses and local markets are trying their best to return to normal, and they are well advised to be prepared that their customer’s expectations regarding safety and comfort will be different.
The future of IRL shopping will feature a system that requires everyone’s cooperation as we intentionally live life again in a post-pandemic world. Since we’ve established that some customers will likely still be wary of physical contact with other people, being mindful of their customers who are hesitant to share public spaces will help them provide superior customer care.
2. Technology and Artificial Intelligence
A portion of our population entertains the fear that robots and artificial intelligence will soon terminate us all as they plan to take over the world, but right now, we may just need to use their help more than ever.
A recent article in the Economist magazine indicated that, in the post-pandemic era, the future of retail will be both offline and online. This is because pre-pandemic, China was already far ahead of the rest of the world in this regard. It is widely known that the West and China are in constant competition for economic dominance; a concept that is largely driven by national retail consumption. That is why during the pandemic Chinese retailers flourished nationally because of the great strides they made in harnessing the use of technology to enhance IRL shopping experience. Hence, the logical progression in North American is that IRL shopping will feature the use of bots and artificial technology as a way to reduce person to person interaction and by extension, catch up with China’s massive growth in this aspect. Countries like the UAE, Ethiopia and Germany had previously adopted life-sized bots to scan people and detect possible covid-19 patients who refused to self-isolate.
At stores like Walmart, staff members would stand at the door with a hand-held thermometer, taking temperature readings from customers as a way to maintain a safer shopping environment, however, companies like Sobey’s and Loblaw adopted savvy-looking AI scanners to get the job done.
The reality of post-pandemic shopping will likely include the enhanced use of numerous technological innovations to guarantee our safety. Small businesses should brace up and have strategies to adapt to the post-pandemic IRL shopping experience’s new changes.
3. Direct Messaging (DM) Shopping
Many of us who are signed up on any of the numerous social media platforms may already know about direct messaging shopping and how it can play a significant role in the post-pandemic IRL shopping world.
According to conservative estimates, about 48% of adults in North America have participated in one form of social shopping or another. With the abundance of platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and others, the number of people who engage in social shopping continues to rise with Direct Messaging at the centre of it all.
Because social shopping is a trading system with limited exposure, it enjoyed a boom during the lockdown, and the comfort of shopping from a smartphone has made it a favorite for most people. Look out for any form of Direct Message shopping to become a new trend in post-pandemic shopping in North America. If you doubt that, read this analysis of how Facebook’s cross-messaging app will make this trend a lot easier for companies to implement.
As we look at the future of IRL shopping, we cannot completely rule out direct messaging shopping prospects because it features a structure that will continue to thrive. That way, people can enjoy the thrill of shopping without the fear of being exposed to any form of transmissible airborne disease.
Getting Direct Messaging Shopping Right!
As we migrate towards a safer and more convenient way to shop, it is our responsibility to make sure we are patronizing social sellers who have reputable eCommerce proof of authenticity. Retail customer review platforms like Yelp, Google Reviews and TrustPilot have taken up the challenge of providing credible eCommerce reviews and rating for small businesses. However, Grammedit is the only platform specifically tailored to verifying the credibility of the numerous social media businesses, specifically, Instagram businesses. Through hundreds of independent reviews from their previous customers, businesses can be confident that they will be attracting their ideal customers, the active loyal ones. Learn more about how you can boost sales in your online store through Direct Messaging here.
A good way to get it right with DM shopping will be to verify a seller’s legitimacy before committing to a purchase. This will help you manage your expectations while also saving your money and time in the long run. Post-Pandemic IRL Shopping Will Be A Win-Win if both customers and business have confidence in each other!!
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As we all wake up from this massive nightmare, we should be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy a fraction of the life we used to know. While we may no longer have it all like it used to be, we need to be mindful of our communities’ current shopping systems, embrace artificial intelligence, and take advantage of social shopping platforms. That way, we reduce unnecessary exposure and cherish every opportunity to go outdoors with our loved ones.