5 Ways Retailers Can Adapt to COVID-19
E-commerce has currently kept many companies alive during the pandemic. The ability to adapt quickly cannot be understated, as those who have been agile with their strategies to keep up with the effects on buying behavior have been thriving. No one will know exactly what in-person shopping will look like in the future, but it is certain that moving forward, e-commerce will continue to play an ever-expanding role with the shift in buying behavior.
1. Updating Information on Product Pages
Keeping product pages updated will be essential to the optimal shopping experience. This includes aspects such as product images, descriptions, availability, and supply chain issues. Ensuring that customers are well- informed with up-to-date information will enable them to have realistic and manageable expectations. Accuracy and transparency with information are fundamental in providing a satisfactory customer experience through e-commerce. For example, being transparent about the unavailability of a product and when it is expected to be restocked will lead to a satisfied customer compared to a vague product page.
2. Curbside Pickup Availability
Online shopping has become symbiotic with curbside pickup – and this has happened rapidly in response to COVID-19. Retailers have adapted to customer concerns by providing a zero-contact shopping experience to make them feel safer. Redesigning delivery models by providing an alternative option can be beneficial to shoppers as it may save both time and money rather than waiting for a product to be shipped. With the use of high-quality photos and videos, a hybrid model of online shopping and in-store pickup will be more common moving forward. If retailers want to adapt to life after COVID, having curbside pickup will likely be a necessity.
3. Being Prepared Technologically
High website traffic will be inevitable because of the surge in online shopping. So to ensure that website and application stacks will run smoothly will require developers to be well-equipped for any slowdowns and shortfalls. Ensuring that page speed and SEO are optimal is essential so that retailers have a solid foundation technologically laid out. Whether it is data automation or managing inventory, being better prepared for any potential technological hurdles will make life easier.
4. Personalized Customer Experiences
Online retailing presents opportunities to add features for a more personalized and engaging shopping experience. E-commerce gives online retailers a treasure trove of data that provides insightful information to improve the targeting of messages. Integrating data on what shoppers are doing and why they are making their purchasing decisions enables retailers to best meet consumer needs. Customer relationship management (CRM) plays a very large role in making for a greater customer shopping experience. Personalizing messages to audiences based on their typical buying habits with high-quality data will help them find and buy the right products in a more efficient, data-based manner.
5. Creating/Bolstering Loyalty Programs
Directly related to using CRM data to improve customer experiences is the creation or modification of loyalty programs. Many retailers are no strangers to loyalty programs and knowing the importance of retaining their existing customers. There isn’t a more evident time for retailers to bolster up their loyalty programs – when customers are more active with their online shopping. Encouraging existing customers to continue shopping on websites with rewards is important to keep them engaged and valued. Updating and strengthening loyalty is a great way to foster the longevity of their business. The COVID pandemic presents an opportunity to configure rewards and update customer information to move towards the post-pandemic era.
No one truly knows what life after the COVID pandemic will look like, but it is certain that retailers have been, and will continue to change. The landscape will look different, for sure, but it seems that retailers have been largely adaptive and agile to conforming to customer needs. Perhaps this swift adjustment is due to the fact that a lot of the tools have already existed in our grasps – technology, in-store/curbside pickup, online applications, CRM, and loyalty programs – just to name a few. What will separate the survivors and the stragglers, however, is reacting quickly and using these tools to the optimal level for customers. Consumers still want to shop; retailers just need to find alternative ways to reach them.