Consumers and retailers have shifted the way they are purchasing and selling products during the COVID-19 pandemic. With an increase in online sales many retailers are now selling online, offering curbside pickup, and buy online and pickup in store options. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has changed the retail landscape as we know it. If there’s one silver lining to this situation, it is that we have a lot we can learn from it. Read on for our top 3 lessons retailers learned from Coronavirus.
1. Stay Connected to Your Customers
When customers come to your store, your goal should be to cultivate a lifelong relationship with them and to keep them coming back for more. Many brands lost their face-to-face interactions with customers when their physical locations had to close their doors, and so the focus switched tracks to the digital sphere whether they liked it or not.
Incidentally, social media marketing is one of the best ways you can keep in touch with your customers even when your stores are open and business is normal. COVID-19 has forced us to do things like use current events to guide social marketing strategy, but this can be applied after the pandemic to stay relevant to your target audience. Paying attention to their concerns and challenges is a great way to guide your marketing approach, because this enables you to make conversations with your customers more about them and less about you. When people feel cared for, they’re more likely to return the favor.
If you have a moment, watch Webinar (Part 4): Communicate with customers via email & social marketing to see how you can apply this lesson the retail industry learned from Coronavirus.
2. Consumers Love Convenience
It’s been looming on the horizon for a while now, but this pandemic really proved that convenience is king. In a time of crisis, retailers have scrambled to open online stores and offer online ordering and curbside pickup options. These measures are essential for quarantine, social distancing, and shelter-in-place procedures. But they’re also incredibly convenient for people with increasingly busy lifestyles.
Once life goes back to normal, people will return to the regular activities that kept them busy. So although they’ll be able to visit stores in person, they may not have the time/energy for it. And the new normal that has been put into place by pandemic containment procedures have taught your customers new habits and new expectations. We were already in the middle of a trend toward increased convenience for consumers. The pandemic just put that trend on a fast track. So as the pandemic ebbs, we need to continue thinking about convenience in every aspect of our business operations, from curbside pickup, mobile POS to online shopping. The lesson retailers learned from Coronavirus here is that convenient shopping options are no longer an option, they are a necessity.
3. Keep a Buffer
Many small and even large businesses suffered significantly at the hands of COVID-19 because they didn’t have enough in savings to sustain them through a period of diminished profits. So if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to up our emergency preparedness game.
Take a cue from savvy businesses like Nintendo, which have such a conservative and airtight financial management strategy that they could run a profit deficit for the next 38 years and still come out of it alright (read the article). Keeping a financial buffer is one of the best ways a business can prepare against disaster. Figure out your fixed and variable costs. Closely examine your current expenses (preferably with the help of a financial advisor) to look at where there are unnecessary expenses, and see how you can cut them out and put that money toward savings instead.
COVID-19 has put retailers across the US in a tight spot. But it has also given us a golden opportunity to come out of this better than before. Take note of the ways that your business has struggled and succeeded during this unique time, and use these notes and lessons learned as a retailer from Coronavirus to help you develop a better strategy for the next emergency you have to face.
COVID-19 Resources for Retailers
Celerant created a page with helpful COVID-19 resources for retailers, including technology, tips, videos, news, resources from our partners, and more.