It’s been a tough time for retailers in recent weeks, as their ‘normal’ was turned upside down and all non-essential shops were forced online. This transition has highlighted the need to invest in digital innovation more than ever. Retailers who had previously focused their efforts of digitising their operations will be reaping the rewards currently, whereas those who were slower in adopting tools will be rushing to catch up. The crisis is giving these retailers the much-needed push to reassess their customer journey online and streamline it to create a better one.
Transitioning from bricks and mortar to online retail
Non-essential stores were forced to close on the 23rd March as social distancing measures came into effect. This is resulted in a boom in online shopping, especially in certain areas such as health and beauty, home and garden, sportswear and electronics. For example, our data showed that the volume of electronics and IT parcels initially increased by 28% at the start of lockdown.
This is just one sector that has seen a huge increase in sales. Data released weekly by IMRG shows that overall, online sales are up 37.8% YoY as of the week commencing 5th April. Gifts in particular was up 126.2%, which can likely in some parts be attributed to Easter. In addition, their data also saw YoY increases for lingerie, electronics, health & beauty, skincare, home & garden, home wear and smartphone/mobile commerce.
Whilst sectors such as clothing and footwear have seen a decrease, we are starting to see these levels normalise again. For all retailers, this shift to e-commerce means that they must digitalise as quickly as possible to survive the crisis.
How can retailers prepare for crises generally?
Crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are unpredictable and can happen at any time without warning. In order to prevent the issues that occurred for retailers when lockdown was put in place, they should consider some changes to their business processes. The key lesson: digitisation should be retailers’ top priority.
Now that many stores are closed, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your business strategy. Does it make sense to prioritise innovation and digitisation? The answer should be clear: yes!
Focus on innovation & digitisation
Retailers that do not prioritise innovation and digitisation will likely suffer during this crisis and any future ones. Many retailers have been far too skeptical of investing in innovations and as a result their business is now suffering. For example, those retailers who do not have an online shop should consider setting one up. The way customers shop may change for good and online shopping will be much more popular, so make sure your goods are available there.
More customer experience & branding
If you do digitise your business and start selling goods online, you should consider the following points.
- Branding: Your brand must be anchored in your customers minds when they are shopping with you. Enterprise businesses such as Amazon, H&M and Zara first had to build their awareness in order to become as successful as they are now .
- Customer experience: Once you have a solid customer base, retailers must ensure these customers are getting the best possible customer experience. This should be from the moment they engage with your brand right through to returns.
- Customer communication: This is a huge part of providing good customer experience. Deliveries are taking longer than usual at the moment so communication is incredibly important during this stage of the customer journey. Customers should be proactively informed about the status of their order at all times in order to keep WISMO enquiries as low as possible. Important events, such as delivery delays, must be identified and communicated to the customer.
This is what communication should look like:
E-commerce after coronavirus
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has changed the way we shop for good. The UK was already way ahead of its European neighbours in terms of online sales but we expect to see the number of people who shop online to be remain high after the crisis is over. This will include demographics who have never embraced e-commerce before, such as the elderly. Retailers have a huge opportunity here to create loyal customers from this new business and will only do so if they provide an easy shopping experience and excellent customer experience.
Would you like to offer your customers excellent experiences even during the current crisis? Get in touch – our solution can help!