2020 has been a year of tremendous change in the world of retail. With customers forbidden (or, at the very least, disincentivized) from making in-person trips to real, brick-and-mortar stores, it’s fallen to online retailers to pick up the slack. Retailers have had to rapidly pivot to digital, with existing online powerhouses like eBay and Amazon enjoying a considerable head-start.
Despite the general move toward e-commerce, this year’s online Black Friday sales have been markedly less impressive than retailers might have hoped for. Payments were down by a tenth overall, despite a sizeable increase in online sales. The demise of Debenhams illustrates how challenging the conditions have been.
If retailers are to adapt to the new, digital-focussed landscape, and to avoid suffering a similar fate, then they’ll have to adapt their customer experience accordingly. Predictions of a covid-driven slump in demand following a downturn in employment might be coming to pass later than expected, and savvy e-retailers will want to take steps to weather the storm. Let’s take a look at how this might be done.
Redeeming Loyalty Points Online
If customers aren’t able to redeem their in-store loyalty points online, then it’s likely that they’ll defer purchases until such a time that they can get to a real-world shop. In the interim, they might decide to take the business elsewhere, or to avoid making the purchase altogether. Adapting your loyalty program is therefore critical to long-term survival.
Recreate In-Store Experiences Online
Certain customers might have visited a real-world store to enjoy a certain experience while shopping. In many cases, these experiences can be replicated, or at the very least approximated, using an equivalent online measure.
Anticipate Customer Questions
When customers shop at a real-world store, they have access to information that online shoppers don’t. Businesses who take the time to spell things out might find that they’re able to secure more conversions. Anticipate common questions around fit, size, and colour.
Provide a Means of Getting in Touch
Your online staff can’t quite do the job of in-store assistants – but they can answer questions in much the same way. Nowadays, customers have a range of preferences when it comes to making contact with a business. They might send an email, or open a chat window on your website, or pick up a phone and calling. Provide options, and you’ll be able to appeal to a broader range of customers.
Leveraging Social Media
The social aspect of going shopping with a friend has been all but eliminated. It’s down to brands to use social media as a savvy means of spreading the word. Customers who have a good experience can shout about it via a Twitter account. Facebook groups can provide a sense of community that’s lacking in an age of lockdown.