Retailers of today are facing an existential crisis. As the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, there have been significant impacts observed in the retail industry.
IDC estimates that the growth for global retail in 2020 will be halved from pre-COVID-19 forecasts, overall, but impacts are uneven. For instance, fashion, home remodelling, furniture, and electronics retailers will be the hardest hit as consumers forego discretionary purchases in favour of getting stocked up with food and household supplies. Grocers win, but it comes at a higher cost of operations.
COVID 19 is undoubtedly a pressing threat, and retailers ought to radically restructure their sales and operating models to adapt to change quickly. Retailers can minimize current and future business impacts by first identifying and then executing on the controllable activities. For instance, in the short term, retailers must recognize and optimize existing technologies and business operating models. In the longer term, the focus should be on evolving business models and enabling transformational change with the set of emerging and upcoming technologies.
Over the past few weeks, we've been talking to many of our retail customers about the impact of COVID-19 on their business. More importantly, we have been ideating with them on how Paperflite can help them do better in this current Coronavirus situation.
Based on our conversations, we have put together 6 key areas of recommendations. These recommendations are stitched, particularly for the sales and marketing executives to help them sail through this volatile environment.
1. Transparency builds Credibility
Your customers are looking for information and trust your enterprise to deliver, so ensure you proactively communicate any updates related to your retail product or business availability.
If your working hours have changed, update your customer-facing portals and on your public listing touch-points such as Google or Foursquare. Update the information on the extra precautions your retail business is taking, such as providing no-touch delivery or virtual payments.
Highlight any other community measures that are being taken by your business, such as providing extra services to the community or whether you're experiencing delays. If your shipping and delivery timelines are altered, make sure it is reflected in your website and, if possible, provide an estimated date of delivery.
2. Build product collections based on Use-Cases
It is time for you to take your product catalogue much more seriously. Your products are the only source for you to convince your customers to buy your product. If you don't have one, start building one. Get all your content into a single repository. Make it easier for yourselves to find them and send it to your customer/prospect once you are done on a call with him/her.
You might know your prospect's use-case at the back of your mind, start identifying your product collections by those use-cases and start putting them into separate folders for easier access.
3. Identify your visitors Online.
As your shoppers (both existing and new) are now headed online, many retailers are experiencing a spike in their website traffic. You must be able to identify the visitors during this period to help recover the lost in-store revenue.
This includes both of those; the prospects who have clicked through your email on your product collections of 'fabrics that would stand the test of time' or the existing customer who does window shopping by going through a personalized collection of bathroom remodelling options that you might have just sent him over WhatsApp.
Having a technology solution in place that can accurately identify each visitor to your product collections, even anonymous ones, is vital to engage with each customer in the right and personalized fashion.
This will also help you down the road to better understand how your customers and prospects are reacting to your products, and you can modify the portfolio even after the Pandemic ends.
4. Dust up your customer data for more Personal engagement.
As pointed in the previous point, the majority of retail marketers are most concerned with the impact COVID-19 has on in-store sales. If you haven't already, be sure to leverage your in-store customer data to correctly communicate with those who have been affected by store closings.
Introduce these customers to your product catalogues, the convenience of your online experience and loyalty benefits, and educate them on the perks of connecting with you digitally.
Build personalized collections of catalogue, and you can cross-sell up-sell the recommended items to your brick and mortar customers via email, WhatsApp or even SMS links that complement their in-store purchases.
Remember, Personalization is critical right now; Even if you are mass-blasting your product catalogue of collections to all your customers, they should see it as if it has been tailor-made for them.
5. Connect the dots and collaborate.
Time for you to make that phone call to your colleagues, ex-colleagues, business partners, peers and share your best-practices. If you know a particular platform or tool works wonders for you, inform that to others in the industry and make them do better.
If you would like to to get something resolved, you can make that call as well. This is the time for all of us to come together and stand firm.
6. Help your customers in this time of the need.
If there has ever been a time for us to help one another, this is it. Every brand exists to provide value, and the product or service that help during this stressful time deserve the attention of those who can benefit from them. If what you do supports or enhances people's lives while being quarantined or while they work from home, communicate that to them.
Try and take care of your prospects or customers during these troubled times. If they will benefit from your product or service but can't afford it, take care of them. Help them grow, and they will take care of you in your rainy days.
Never let a prospect or customer go because they can't afford you.
One way ticket
While the long term impacts of the COVID 19 virus is still unknown, we can only hope that the current global efforts to contain the virus and its results are successful.
We see most of our retail customers applying the above principles in their sales and marketing efforts to strengthen the sales. And our view suggests that al the smart retailers are thinking about all of the scenarios and planning their acts right.
Whether this situation lasts weeks or months, it is clear that the global response to this virus has fundamentally changed the reality for retailers. It's time to face that fact and start adapting.
We can certainly help you with all the above strategies; please feel free to drop a note to us if you would like us to explain these to you in detail.
Some more recommended blogs that might interest you:
6 Content Strategies for Responsible Marketing in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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9 Customer Marketing Strategies to focus on your existing customers.