As the world begins to open up again, the question that’s top-of-mind for many of us is, “what does the new normal look like?”
Last week, e-Commerce leaders came together virtually to discuss how they’re adapting to this new retail landscape. Co-hosted by BWG Connect and Forter, Aaron Conant, Co-Founder of BWG Connect and Michael Reitblat, Forter’s CEO were joined by John Perasco, Drunk Elephant’s Senior Director of Digital, who outlined some of the ways they’re staying true to their brand promise and connecting with customers to build long term relationships.
The Current State of E-Commerce
Forter’s data indicates a huge variance in online volumes of sales based not only on industry verticals, but where organizations are in their digital transformation journey as well. Companies that have already invested heavily in their digital channels have seen purchase volumes increasing by 2x, 3x, or even 50x. However, brands who have not yet focused on digital transformation have actually seen slight decreases in online volumes, despite all their brick and mortar locations being closed.
With the reopening of physical stores in some parts of the world, Forter has seen online sales dip approximately 15% from peak volumes, but that doesn’t mean consumer buying habits will return to their pre-COVID levels. In fact, data shows that 90% of new e-Commerce users will continue to purchase online even as the option of shopping in physical stores returns.
The Persistence of Fraud
Throughout the past few months, it hasn’t just been retailers adapting to this new reality. As Michael Reitblat explains, “fraudsters will always be more creative than we can imagine, and as the industry architects these new user experiences, we have to think like a fraudster and try to imagine how they could exploit each and every new offering.”
During the pandemic, attempted fraud rose on average by 30% (although some industries were impacted more than others). Fraudsters often targeted those industries who’s products and services were easiest to monetize, and they leveraged the pandemic to strengthen their attacks. For example, they would often add COVID-related products to their carts to blend in with legitimate consumers and trigger policies that allowed anyone trying to buy necessities to be approved. With merchant teams working remotely and trying to process increased order volumes, fraudsters have had greater success targeting merchants who are reliant on manual reviews and rules based policies.
Differentiating on Digital Experience
With their primary retail partners closed, adapting to the new reality for Drunk Elephant, a leading skincare company, has meant finding ways to meet demand through their website and delivering an exceptional online experience for their new and existing customers.
With consumers having more time on their hands to really learn about skincare and think through their routines, Drunk Elephant saw a huge influx in traffic to their site and new customers making purchases. That meant they had to quickly adapt by investing more in the user experience of their website and on making sure all their orders could be fulfilled on time. By temporarily re-assigning trained field sales teams to help with education and manage the increased call volume to customer service, they were able to keep their customers fully engaged and happy with their experience.
Through their partnership with Forter, they were also able to make sure that every legitimate customer that wanted to make a purchase was able to get approved, and that fraudsters trying to get through were stopped before any damage could be done. That way, Drunk Elephant could focus on scaling their business and fulfilling all their orders, without worrying about fraud.
John explained that “as we saw volumes spike after COVID, there really was a confidence there [with Forter]. They took that worry away, from the mechanical side of things with their quick approval process. And on the flip side, they also handled chargebacks for us too, so it’s like ‘let the professionals deal with that’.”
The Way Forward
While many places around the world are beginning to open up, the pandemic is far from over, and retailers must remain agile in their strategies. While it’s undoubtedly been a challenge for most merchants, brands like Drunk Elephant have been able to learn valuable lessons that will help them continue to win, in any retail environment. As John Perasco states at the end of the session:
- Always stay true to your brand’s core values
- Treat your key partners well, and you can lean on them in good times and in bad times
- Never be afraid to try new things, even in scary times
To learn more about how to adapt to today’s retail environment, you can listen to the full conversation here.