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A New Era of Retail: 5 Ways Brands Are Changing Strategies in Response to COVID-19

Online e-commerce has become a mainstream part of life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Every retailer has had to quickly adapt their business approach to find creative ways to meet the unforeseen challenges that the COVID-19 virus has presented.

Merchants have been forced to consider how consumers are adapting: whether they are putting purchases on hold or moving essential purchases online, and how long-lasting these new behaviors will be. Merchants will need to consider how to change their business strategies to adapt to this new reality and meet changing consumer demands and surges in activity across their digital channels. 

We’ve sponsored a new report with DigitalCommerce, A New Era of Retail, to understand first-hand how leading businesses have adapted their strategies to meet new demands and complexities. 

As a summary, here are 5 common ways these retailers have shifted their focus to better prepare their business for this new era of retail, and how you can too: 

  1. Optimize for Digital Channels: With the closure of most brick and mortar locations for stores, brands should aim to optimize their digital presence. “Walmart Inc., reported that its e-commerce sales grew 74% for the first quarter ended May 1, compared with the same period in 2019.” The shift to online shopping requires businesses to rethink their allocation of resources and the overall customer experience that they offer digital shoppers. During a period when consumers have more choices at the tips of their fingers than ever before, seamless service and smooth checkout processes are the new expected norm. 
  2. Streamline Fulfillment Processes: In order to support growing consumer demands, businesses will need to better understand how to allocate internal resources throughout the buyer’s journey so that from the moment of payment to the time of delivery – customers never feel a hiccup in the process. “Grocery retailers report that they are hiring thousands of employees, expanding omnichannel options and redeploying resources to keep up with the demands for online grocery orders and curbside pickup and home delivery.”
  3. Improve Flexibility in Supply Chains: During a time of such heightened market disruption, it is essential for businesses to reexamine their manufacturing and supply chains. By relying on digital manufacturing and conducting business through e-commerce channels, brands are able to accelerate their time to market and reduce development and production cycles. This also minimizes risk throughout the product lifecycle, ultimately improving business efficiency and saving the company money. 
  4. Engage with Customers: As “stay at home” orders persist globally, brands should be looking for new ways to better engage with their customers. An online luxury apparel retailer used their Instagram channel to ask their customers about their skin type and product preferences. In an effort to further personalize the experience, the brand then held a live virtual consultation with each consumer where the hand-selected products for the shopper were described and presented. These virtual sessions were a huge driver for new customers and generated a 20% conversion rate over 2 days. Retailers should aim to augment the personalization of both marketing efforts and experiences they offer to enhance both experience and grow customer loyalty.
  5. Invest in COVID-19 and Crisis-Related Initiatives: When crises hit, adaptation requires innovation. Businesses should be proactively examining their approach to longer-term impacts that COVID-19 or similar types of events may have on their business and customers. Brands should consider re-examining typical sales forecasts, re-evaluating customer service teams, and reviewing buying patterns throughout COVID-19 so that they are better prepared to quickly adapt during similar future circumstances. 

COVID-19 has changed the way in which consumers shop and forever altered the commerce landscape. To ensure long-term success amid this dynamic environment, brands must change their approach to managing operational initiatives, digital engagement, and customer experience. For more information about the best strategies for ensuring your business is COVID-19 resilient, read our report sponsored by DigitalCommerce. 

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