3 Ways Retail Can Survive the Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 continues to impact everyone around the globe through unprecedented challenges on a daily basis. Everyone, from insurance providers to retail stores, must use innovative methods to deliver services without requiring customers be face-to-face and, more importantly, to decipher information and ever-changing interruptions.
Mark Finch, Vice President of EMEA sales at goMoxie, advocates for customers amid the coronavirus, believing they “are concerned about their own health and wellbeing, as well as that of their communities. During this time especially, customers should not have to struggle to find information on product or service changes due to COVID-19.”
UK Online Retail Association, IMRG, featured Finch’s thoughts in their recent article, titled, “All Jumbled Right Now: Retail in a time of Coronavirus,” which outlines the current paradigm shift and highlights how retail stores can survive the coronavirus in order to stay afloat during this unique time.
1. Lean Into Digital Transformation to Keep Transactions Flowing
Many world leaders have ordered the closing of all non-essential storefronts as a drastic measure to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. Store owners are scrambling to save their bottom line by accelerating their digital transformation. Many are finding the shift to eCommerce to be quite challenging with retail’s survival amid COVID-19 feeling bleak.
As a result, when store owners don’t implement the right technology to bridge the gap from omnichannel to a single, shoppers are left with a sub-par retail experience and must fight for updates around their orders.
For larger organizations, that might mean training in-store staff to work as live chat agents from home. Or pushing more contextual updates to help address unique customer questions at scale to your website or app.
Supermarkets, which rank high in the essentials category, are encouraged to share warehouse space, delivery trucks and even food shelving space for rotating stock. As a result, logistics companies are transforming overnight into the critical services category to keep shelves stocked during high demand. These opportunities for collaboration can yield creative partnerships for newly suffering businesses.
2. Get Transparent About How COVID-19 Affects Your Business
As the impact of COVID-19 hits retail stores, customer and employee advocacy must stay at the forefront. What should retailers do to make both customers and employees happy as well as retain and generate new customers during these trying times? The short answer? Get transparent.
IMRG’s article showcases how the transition to eCommerce and remote selling requires stores to communicate and be transparent as unpredictable issues arise. While most shoppers have encountered shipping delays or out-of-stock items, as Finch points out, they shouldn’t be left to find this information on their own.
If a customer has recently made a purchase, you should know that when they return to your site and start to look for the phone number. Instead of merely updating your FAQs and passively waiting for customers to call in, you can intercept them on the first page of their next visit and offer to help in context and take them – guide them –to the place where your self-service tool is or offer them a link to their track their shipment.
Social distancing requires physical employees to no longer work in close proximity to one another, affecting the quality of shipped items or speed at which products are shipped. As such, businesses must rely on technology more than ever, including digital guidance technology, website FAQs and virtual queuing systems to keep shoppers engaged through the buying experience and ensure inventory control.
3. Meeting Shoppers Where They
Shoppers have accelerated the move to digital as they have no other viable option to shop. To meet growing expectations, businesses are deploying new ways to communicate digitally and repositioning their goods to suit an at-home audience.
Those retailers who can be adaptable and proactive will most likely survive this invisible threat in some form. Although the retail business may not look the same after COVID-19, there is still hope for survival.