Two months ago, the world as we know it changed. COVID-19 became up close and personal in the first week of March. Virtual Retailing, Digital Retailing, Distance Retailing -- call it what you will -- arrived.
Social norms evolve. Consumers adjust. My three big takeaways as we glance back before moving forward, come mainly from watching things from a New York state of mind.
- Online time and overall spending increase as consumers stockpile on items that they can utilize without leaving their homes. Peloton (PTON) had an incredible quarter. Sales on a $2k+ bike are through the roof and on backorder. With headquarters and studios in NYC, the company flawlessly moved classes to the instructors' homes and kept operations up as everything moved inside and online.
- Keeping it clean takes on a whole new meaning. Simple practices like washing hands have become more enthusiastically embraced while hugs have gone to the wayside in the modern era of social distancing. More extensive sanitizing methods have become the key to encouraging customers to reconnect, albeit in different ways. For example, new elements include self-checkout counters and contactless delivery for parts, sales, and service.
- Bring it to me. Safety brings the change; however, convenience for the shopper and competitive advantage for dealer operators keeps the change. Look no further than Brian Benstock and Paragon Honda to see how they pick up and deliver service vehicles in Queens, NY.
Some may argue that the reality, instead of leaving the safety of their homes, is that you now only need to visit a dealership for the test drive and the signing of the paperwork. Aggressive retailers and new societal expectations will change even that.