How Are the Public Feeling About Venturing Out to Shop?

Shopping has changed unimaginably in 2020 and perhaps forever, with online spending at record levels after Covid-19 forced shop doors to close for over three months during lockdown. 

In recent weeks shops have begun opening up their doors and welcoming back their customers. We wanted to discover how the public is feeling about going back to shops so we asked our countrywide team of insight6 researchers how they felt. 

More than 200 researchers gave us their views. Here are the headlines from the research:

 

Overall Confidence

When asked ‘How confident are you about visiting your local town centre?’, the results were mixed.  Only 25% were fully confident – rated 9 or 10 out of 10, and 45% were not confident – rating 6 out of 10 or less.

The average score was 6.6 out of 10, suggesting that there is trepidation out there, plus plenty of work to do to build confidence.

There were lots of comments that support these ratings.  The words used overwhelmingly in the survey were ‘social distancing’, ‘enforce’, and ‘ensure’.  There was a clear feeling within the results that social distancing must be in place on the street and in shops, and that the safety measures must be enforced by shop staff and/or the authorities.

 

Shopping Intentions

We asked researchers whether the Pandemic would mean they are more or less likely to shop online.  Before Covid-19, online sales accounted for approximately 19% of the market, and had hovered around that mark for some time, a measure published back in May said this had increased to 25%.

Our survey showed that just over 40% expected to shop more online, with 49% expecting to shop online at the same levels.  Only 11% expect online shopping to decrease.  It is no surprise that it would appear that online shopping is only likely to increase.

The increase creates further challenges for High Street businesses already feeling the strain.  There have been a number of initiatives to get people out and about, particularly in the Food and Beverage sector, but footfall is still low.  

We also asked people about their intentions to shop locally and 52% said they would shop more locally.  Some of the anecdotal evidence that supported this was:

  • A number of researchers told us that they would go shopping less often and closer to home
  • There is mistrust of large shops, shopping centres and malls
  • People would like to support local businesses
  • They will go to shops they know well and take safety seriously – back to the enforcement point

What does this mean for the High Street?

On the face of it, this is bad news for High Street businesses.   The mix of low footfall, more people used to using online services than before Covid19, and over half of people reluctant to venture out too far would appear to put High Street businesses in a predicament.

However, there are signs that people are waiting to be influenced, the businesses that make sure people know that safety is paramount, and will be enforced rigidly stand more chance of attracting shoppers.  Overlay that with a great customer experience, which is better than online shopping, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

insight6 Top Tips for Thriving in a “new normal”

  • Make sure people know you are open, and you have put in place all possible safety measures – shout about it online, social media, your website
  • Make sure your staff are ready to enforce safety measures, and it can be done in a nice way – no exceptions
  • Make sure the customer experience is excellent, people miss product demonstrations, looking and feeling, choosing, discussing suitability, getting advice etc.
  • Encourage customers to share their positive views on the new experience on social media

If you would like to learn more about how we can partner your business to measure and transform your customer experience to increase your footfall and customer loyalty then simply fill in the form below and your local Customer Experience Specialist will be in touch. 

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How well are Independent Schools communicating through their websites?

Over the past few months, lockdown has meant that we have all relied heavily on technology and the internet. From using video calls to working remotely to shopping on the internet, a strong online presence and messaging have never been more important.

With lockdown and social distancing impacting the ability of independent schools to conduct tours and host open days, the education sector is no different. This presents a huge opportunity for schools to use websites as a shop window to give parents and prospective students a flavour of what life will be like if they choose to enrol at the school.

At insight6 we wanted to find out whether schools were grasping the opportunity to demonstrate what they can do online. In June we asked our researchers to visit the websites of 71 independent schools to see what the experience was like. 

Positively, 72% of the websites offered future virtual events and open days showing that they have moved quickly to change their offering and adapt. As well as providing a new way for prospective students to find out more about the school, 60% had messaging on the website reaching out to current students offering them advice. Not only is this helpful for the current students but it also demonstrates their level of care to parents and prospective students. 

The messages on the homepage of a website can have a big impact on how the reader feels about an institution or business. Words and phrases such as ‘reassure you’ and ‘hope you are safe and well’ help to show empathy and ease any concerns that current or prospective students may have. During these times especially, empathetic messaging on your website homepage is crucial to show that you care. Our research showed that only half of all schools used empathetic language in the messaging on their website homepage. 

insight6 researchers also found that: 

  • 53% of schools had an up to date message on their website about Covid-19 
  • 24% of schools had never updated their LinkedIn profile and a further 24% had not updated it within the last 6 months meaning there was no messaging about Covid-19
  • 0% of the schools had a webchat facility on their website to provide a quick and easy way to communicate with them 

What are parents/prospective students looking for? 

Selecting the right school is a huge decision for parents. When viewing a school under normal circumstances parents will not just be thinking about the academic results, they are also considering the facilities, sports achievements and the values of the community they become part of when their child/children attend.  Although all of these things are important, when a parent financially invests in a school they are investing in their child’s future. They are making a decision on where their child will grow up and spend a vital time in their life. Importantly, parents are investing in a community where they need to feel valued and their children cared for.

The impact of Covid-19 has changed many things, including the way in which schools can offer tours but it has not impacted the importance of this decision for parents which is why the online offering is now vital.

At the end of the research, we asked our team whether based on their experience they would be likely to recommend the school. Overall, only 21% said that they would, however, there are three key things that schools can do now to change this: 

  1. Provide regular updates - this shows that you are constantly looking to adapt and take the best action for your students. It demonstrates to parents that the school is proactive and helps to keep current students in the loop.
  2. Use empathetic language in your messaging - parents and students want and need to feel reassured, especially during these times.
  3. Make communication as easy as possible - It should be very simple for parents, students or prospective students to get in touch should they have an enquiry. If it is hard for them to know who they should contact, or they can’t find the right email address they could choose to look elsewhere instead. 

50% of our researchers said that they would recommend the schools that successfully did all three of these things, highlighting the gap between those that had and those that hadn’t. 

Some very small changes can make a massive difference to your website and the way it makes visitors feel. Having someone with a fresh pair of eyes take a look at your site for the first time through the eyes of a prospective student or parent can be very beneficial and will help to pick up on things that you may not have noticed before when looking at it regularly. 

insight6 is here to support you. If you would like to talk with our experts about the messaging on your website, even if it is an informal chat over a (virtual) cup of coffee, then please leave us a message on the contact form below and we will be in touch.

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