Everything changed when COVID-19 came and threatened the world. Everyone has had to adapt to the new normal, and businesses, especially in the retail industry, are no exception.
To avoid getting exposed to virus transmissions, most consumers shop more online than in person. This sudden shift in consumer behaviour caught retailers off guard. While businesses with omnichannel have had an easier time bouncing back, it has been a struggle for those businesses that prioritised physical sales before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since fewer customers were coming into their brick-and-mortar shops, retailers had no other choice but to adapt the omni channel approach to appeal to customers and take advantage of the retail and e-commerce world. If managed successfully, they can drive and make sales through these two channels.
That is why the omni channel approach is the method retailers use, as it paves the way for adapting to the new normal. So far, listed below are the four ways they take to drive business growth.
4 Ways To Innovate Retail Stores And Ecommerce To Drive Business Growth
1. Reinvent The In-Store Experience
Retailers are being forced to reconsider their brick-and-mortar storefronts and how these locations could best compliment the customer experience as more consumers opt for ecommerce. Retailers can use customer data to gain a detailed perspective of micro traffic patterns, which branches are getting the most traffic—while deciding which store to reopen.
Adapting to the new normal is part of that, as the definition of retail has changed. Since more consumers are purchasing online, the purpose of brick-and-mortar stores nowadays is to provide an experience for customers when they interact with a brand.
For example, the customer experience innovation that Apple has planned so far is to let customers experience the item in person. While doing that, the sales advisor can explain how it works through a one-on-one, personalised consultation service.
Providing workshops for customers and teaching them how particular apps or features work is another customer experience innovation of Apple.
That is why the brick-and-mortar shops of retailers are no longer about hard selling. They are more concerned with providing a customer with an experience related to the product. Along the way, this method helps build trust that the brand’s product and business can provide a solution for customers.
The future of brick-and-mortar shops are still being built, but it is becoming clear that they will incorporate immersive experiences.
2. Innovate Omnichannel
Businesses, especially retailers, adapting to the new normal requires examining their present omnichannel products and thinking how they can fill the gaps and cater to the new customer habits and preferences.
While it is true that most consumers find online shopping convenient, some still prefer to find it uncomforabothers find it a hassle since they cannot try on the product they want to get on an omnichannel ecommerce website. Businesses had to change how they sell their products to address that problem. Instead of showing product images alone, they invested in an augmented reality (AR) feature. With this, customers could try on a 3D version of the product they want, like the example below.
The GIF cam from Vogue Magazine displays AR features offered by Mac Cosmetics and Smashbox.
Another benefit that the AR feature brings, other than helping customers find the perfect product that suits them, is increasing brand awareness and revenue by letting customers share the video of their “try on” experience. If they have shared it successfully on their social media platforms, that video will generate user-generated content. It will establish trust with other potential customers while attracting them to try the product using the AR feature themselves.
Retailers can also do live streams to connect with their customers while selling their products or services online. This omnichannel strategy is similar to a trade fair with a twist since the exhibition is happening virtually, and customers can only send their purchase orders through chat.
All new features should be explicitly connected with evolving consumer needs and integrated with existing channels to guarantee customers would have a consistent shopping experience.
3. Focus On Digital Marketing
Even though online shopping already existed before the pandemic, more consumers are shopping online since the start of COVID-19 pandemic. According to research conducted by Abode, there was a 25% increase in online sales within two weeks, driven by grocery shopping.
For other businesses to achieve this, they should expand their digital presence by investing more time in their digital marketing efforts. Start by doing keyword research since it helps determine the search intent of consumers, which you use to create promotional campaigns.
At the same time, they should also use apps and other ecommerce marketplace platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Qoo10, and many more to help increase direct client encounters. Then if they have an ecommerce website, they need to focus on its loading speed, delivery times, and stability to ensure a seamless digital experience for consumers.
4. Leverage Safex
Apart from maintaining social distancing and wearing a face mask, consumers want to ensure that they are safe at all times. The only way to reassure them of their safety is that retailers should leverage SafeX. This term SafeX stands for safe(r) experiences, which alleviate customers’ concerns and enable them to return to in-person contacts shopping.
To implement SafeX, they can set safety delivery modes for both consumers and employees so their health will not be at risk. The following are the options businesses can choose from to leverage SafeX of their operation.
- Product Delivery
This mode is the most common of them all in the ecommerce industry since whatever the customer is buying online will get delivered to the doorstep of their preferred address. As more customers are turning to shop online, consider reviewing the return policy to reassure the customers about easy and convenient solutions should there be an error in the product purchase.
This acronym stands for buy-online-pickup-in-store. That means a consumer will be buying on an omnichannel ecommerce website of their choice and pick up the item in their desired branch location.
- Contactless Checkout
Since some customers miss in-person shopping, businesses also offer this method. It works by letting customers shop and check out the item they purchase themselves.
Watch this video from The Straits Times to see how contactless checkout works.
- Drive-Thru Pick Up
This SafeX mode is similar to the BOPIS, and the only difference is that customers are picking the purchased item via drive-thru.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds
While COVID-19 has caused an irreversible shift in consumer behaviour, it opens a new opportunity for those businesses who adapted the omni channel approach and took advantage of both worlds: the retail and ecommerce industries.
If done right, they will be able to reposition themselves for success in the post-pandemic world. As the next normal takes shape, consumer expectations will follow, which is why if you do not consider jumping on an omnichannel approach, your competitors and customers might leave you behind.
For more information about omnichannel and the marketing strategy you need to do for this approach, reach out to OOm, our digital marketing company. Contact us at 6391-0930 or leave a message on our website.