Consumers Want Social Distancing Options From Businesses After Pandemic

Consumers Want Social Distancing Options From Businesses After Pandemic

80% say curbside pickup, delivery services should remain
Social distancing while shopping

As retailers respond to the coronavirus crisis by offering an array of services that promote social distancing, a new survey suggests such options may outlast the pandemic.

Podium, a Lehi, Utah-based messaging platform company, conducted a survey of consumers to discover their preferred methods of interacting with retailers during the pandemic.

With consumers concerned about protecting themselves from contracting COVID-19, 84% said they’ve used services that promote social distancing, such as delivery, contactless payments and curbside pickup. However, most respondents want these services to continue even after the pandemic is over.

Social distancing a driver of business

For many consumers, a retailer’s willingness to offer social distancing options determined whether that retailer would get their business. In fact, 57% said a business’s social distancing services led them to buy a product or service from that establishment for the first time. On top of that, 53% said they’ve stopped patronizing a business or sought out a competitor because that retailer didn’t offer pandemic-friendly services.

Price has become less important to consumers in the age of COVID-19, while safety considerations have become more of a priority.

According to the Podium research, respondents were 57% less likely to consider price a top consideration for patronizing a particular business during the pandemic than they were before the outbreak. On the other hand, 49% of respondents said the ability to take advantage of social distancing options was a top consideration for doing business with a retailer during the pandemic, while only 13% felt that way before the crisis.

Services may be here to stay

While social distancing options may have been unheard of for some consumers before the pandemic, convenience is key for many now. In fact, respondents overwhelmingly want these services to stay. Even after the pandemic subsides:

  • 80% want businesses to continue offering curbside pickup
  • 80% want businesses to continue delivering food and groceries
  • 78% want businesses to offer contactless payment options, such as Apple Pay, contactless credit cards or the ability to pay via phone

While it’s clear that consumers appreciate social distancing options, they expect the services to be offered efficiently. Almost 3 in 10 respondents said they had an unpleasant customer experience using curbside pickup. Of those respondents:

  • 49% said service was unorganized
  • 42% said service was slow
  • 38% said there were no convenient communication options to coordinate the pickup

Such an experience can have broad implications, as 66% of those who had an unpleasant experience using curbside pickup said that incident made them less likely to patronize that business in the future.

Among all respondents, 89% said they’re likely to give repeat business to a retailer they patronized for the first time because of social distancing options. On the flip side, 70% of respondents who had what they deemed to be a bad customer experience during the pandemic would be less likely to buy from the retailer in the future.

Methodology: Podium surveyed 1,004 consumers between the ages of 18 and 75 on May 26 and 27.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.