The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the biggest events in the history of human-kind. Covid-19 has affected day today life of people all over the world and forced us to slow down and revisit our priorities. While the whole world is going through unprecedented changes with people adapting to the new world order, it has also disrupted the world trade and movements.
Even though it is easy for us to sink low and feel let down by the changes, it is indeed worth reflecting how fortunate we are living through this pandemic with endless digital support and how humans have been able to have seamless interactions and progress using the latest digital technologies.
Businesses need to look beyond the pandemic
While sustenance should be the primary driver in current times, keeping digital innovation to the fore should be an equal priority. Traditional businesses with little or no digital touch-points have clearly lost the battle. If they are somehow able to survive through, this pandemic will be the flashpoint where they start giving due consideration to digital transformations that can future-proof their business.
Retail dominates the limelight because of its physical proximity to customers. However, with social distancing the norm and the model for retail greatly challenged, digital channels will become more popular with customers that will compliment upward trends in online spend.
While new customers are embracing digital channels, this doesn’t mean they will take everything at face value. Customers will want to enjoy the online engagement and experience offered whilst finding it easy to complete tasks. The game is afoot for those looking to curry consumer favour.
With enormous opportunities on the horizon, here are four things for companies to think hard about in regards to online transactions:
1. Virtual shopping assistants:
Your customers are shopping online. How are you assisting them? Front-line employees are the most important asset in brick-and-mortar retail businesses. They are the creators of the in-store experience – serving as recommendation engines, carefully curating stock and helping you chose. The work they do makes shopping experiences more enjoyable and personal. This equates to repeat custom and brand loyalty.
According to the office for National Statistics, 80% of customers using digital channels expect the same kind of assistance they get from the in-store experiences online. Transferring this model to the digital world is the need of the moment. However, the reality is that many businesses are not prepared to get this experience in the digital world.
Many are still ignoring the human element - that’s the customer’s needs and wants. As a consequence, brands miss out on opportunities to sell more effectively. Virtual shopping assistants can be as simple as a person on a chat function or video call or as advanced as AI-powered shopping assistants, offering consumers advice on the best things to buy, helping them discover products and aggregate baskets.
2. Improved Social Media Shopping:
With the whole world adopting social distancing, more and more people are taking to social media to interact with their nearest and dearest. Giving your existing and new customers an integrated experience where they can access your brand through social media with the same level of experience and engagement as offered on your ecommerce site will boost consumer confidence in your brand.
Bringing personalization to the forefront and leveraging the data on your customer’s social media profile can help outpace your competition. To do this you need to think of smart ways to sell on social media. This includes:
Thinking about where your customers are most active.
Knowing when they’re most likely to make a purchase.
Understanding how you can use the platform’s features and functions to drive conversion.
Enlisting the help of influencers and trends (Misguided just launched a casual WFH range).
Offering incentives e.g. discounted annual shipping fee, codes tied to holidays, and freebies.
Rewarding loyalty i.e. you’ve made x purchases this year, here’s a gift on us.
Introducing bundles. Glossier do a great job of packaging their make-up sets (https://www.glossier.com/category/sets).
To support this, you’ll need to invest in tools and technologies that allow you to better engage with your audience on these platforms.
3. Virtual Showrooms:
To add a new dimension to the online shopping experiences, retailers should look to build virtual showrooms. These ‘places’ help to aid purchases by bridging the digital - physical purchase gap. While the technology is evolving and innovation efforts are happening to meet different industry needs, making this a key aspect of your digital experience and differentiating yourself from your competition is a top priority.
There are tailored made solutions available to meet specific use cases which offer the best digital showroom experience and ROI when deployed after thorough review and validation with actual customers. Businesses need to define the use cases and thoroughly vet the platforms against the use cases.
We also have streetwear brands like Lazy Oaf and Golf Le Fleur launching digital incarnations of their most loved products and ranges for the popular Animal Crossing – an emergent social media platform of sorts (https://www.thedrum.com/news/2020/04/21/animal-crossing-emerging-media-channel-brands-lockdown?). This opens up a whole new range of opportunities for those courageous enough to harness the trends of today.
4. Enhanced Fulfillment Options:
With physical in-store experiences fading by the day, customers will expect instant order satisfaction from digital stores. To deliver on this, businesses can optimize their order fulfillment processes to keep the lag between purchase and order fulfillment to a minimum.
Ecommerce businesses are not alone here, traditional shipping carriers have already made some good headway on addressing business needs. Many carriers are already offering single day shipping which consumers and businesses can leverage. Further advancements in this space include fulfillment through drones which although still in its infancy has made good headway into the shipping industry but carriers are actively trying to address the logistical challenges that have presented itself in its adaption. Other interesting shipping innovations include,
Droid delivery: Uses robotic technology to deliver goods to the nearest delivery locations
Hyperlocal delivery: The concept of hyperlocal delivery is to deliver items within a specific geographical area, mostly within the same postal code. Many shipping providers have come up with their hyperlocal delivery business where they allow sellers to sell products such as groceries, medicines, food items etc within 10 miles from the pick up location.
There are many opportunities in digital commerce to create better, more true to life, experiences ready for a new era of digital interactions.
Talk to the implications of failing to do so?
It’s more important than ever
Brands who falter will fall behind
Now is time to secure your future as a brand