LEHI, Utah—As the nationwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic reached a fever pitch across the United States in March, local businesses that could remain open quickly adopted new ways of serving customers, like more convenient communications, curbside pickups, local delivery and contactless payments. A new survey from Podium shows that the majority of Americans have both used these services (84%) and expect local businesses to continue offering them (86%).
“While previously just a nice way to do business, offering options like contactless payments, texting and curbside pickup have become the only way for local businesses to operate,” said Eric Rea, co-founder and CEO at Podium, in a press release. “There has been steady movement towards digital transformation among local businesses in recent years, which was exponentially accelerated over the past few months. Consumers have become accustomed to the new forms of communications and services, and there’s no going back.”
Consumers’ priorities when choosing local businesses have shifted, especially among women and those ages 60 and older. Customers are prioritizing businesses that offer pickup, curbside or contactless services, which jumped from 13% pre-COVID-19 to 49%.
In addition, offering pandemic-friendly services has led to first-time customers. Nearly three in five Americans (57%) said a local business’ pandemic-friendly services (including curbside pickup, local food and grocery delivery and contactless payments) led them to purchase goods or services from a local business for the first time.
Overall, Americans would like local businesses to continue offering pandemic-friendly solutions after COVID-19 restrictions lift, such as curbside pickup options (80%), food and grocery delivery options (79%), and contactless payment options (78%).
The nationally representative survey was conducted online within the United States by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Podium from May 26 to 27, 2020, among 1,000 Americans ages 18 and up.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.