The global retail industry is experiencing an unprecedented crisis in the wake of Covid-19. Consumers are staying home and tightening their spending as they face uncertainties related to their health, wealth, and jobs.
This physical and psychological hunkering down is hitting retailers hard, as U.S. retail sales dropped a historic 10.8% in March & April, and moving forward are expected to drop 20% (at least) according to the National Retail Federation. Businesses are in turn laying off staff and scrambling to understand their options. Where are the opportunities for your business and how can you minimize losses?
1. Deepen Your Customer Insight
Knowledge of your customers has never been more valuable to your business. Marketers need to analyse data about their customers’ behaviours and buying habits on a daily basis to learn what is changing and what is not. What new unmet needs have emerged? What pain points have surfaced? What new markets are emerging for your company?
2. Cover The Basics
Let customers know if your business is operating and how you are keeping them and your employees safe. Many businesses have already sent emails notifying consumers about new sanitation procedures and other safety protocols. At G Guard Malaysia, for example, social distancing and temperature check is required for every customers, waiting lounge has been closed for customers. You have to ensure your customers that you are not spreading the virus and what tangible actions can you take to communicate to your customers. Gloves and masks are clear signals, but don’t forget to add your own special touch to the encounter.
3. Look for the Digital Meet-and-Greet
Social distancing has resulted a huge spike in social media traffic. If that is where your customers are, that is where you want to be. Many companies worry that they will appear opportunistic if they engage with their customers during this difficult time. We think that is a mistake. If you have a relationship with your customers, they will want to know what you are thinking and planning.
4. Adapt Your Business to the Digital World
For companies without robust digital offerings, how can you move in this direction? Many brick-and-mortar retailers have set up online payments methods. Those without online stores are emailing customers to update them on new products in stock. Mail shipments or contact-less delivery are the new point of transfer.
5. Focus on the Experience
Companies should immediately evaluate their customer journeys and re-imagine those that could be redesigned for a digital-first world. This includes everything from expanding capacity of your offering or customer service to putting a pause on certain late fees/cancellation fees. Customer service teams should consider what they can do to ensure a positive experience and do it quickly because the pain customers will experience from the pandemic is likely to increase over the coming weeks and maybe months.
6. Plan for life after Covid-19
We are only a few months into the period of social distancing and sheltering in place. While it’s still unclear when and how this will end, you need to be ready to see the change of your customers’ habit for the long run and decide what are you going to do to get ready for this shift?
One thing we know already is that digital experiences are here to stay. This Covid-19 pandemic is just accelerating the process. We recommend that you jump in, learn fast, and think long term even as you focus on survival over the next few months. If you need to bring your businesses online, Avixity is all you need. Learn more about our services here.