Adapting Your Online and Retail Formula to Attract Growth Despite the Pandemic

Adapting Your Online and Retail Formula to Attract Growth Despite the Pandemic

In the Land of the Blind, cyclops is king. While the much-studied quote from Desiderius Erasmus(1466 – 1536) – a celebrated Dutch Christian philosopher – may have Biblical roots, it speaks also of the realities in business. If you are as blind as your nearest competitor, excelling may not be possible for you. But if you see farther and are a step ahead, you may get the lion’s share of the market.

Basically, there’s no business in America not affected by the virus today. The damage can be seen in the number of small businesses lost. As estimated by the Federal Reserves, there are about 200,000 American businesses that have permanently closed in the first year of the pandemic. Many of the hardest hit are providers of personal services (nail salons, barbershops).

It’s imperative then that as a retail store, you seek to adapt to the exigencies of the times. If not, you could be part of the many that perished.

Fortunately, being able to adapt to the behavior of retail buyers should bid you well. As a study from McKinsey shows, customers are keen on adopting a more online-centric shopping style than ever before. Being able to get out of the wait-and-see mold should be helpful for you with expert guidance. Below are key takeaways to get you started.

Making the Cut

Business is slowly getting back on its tracks. But people are still hesitant to fully maximize the greater opportunity to shop in person. It’s understandable. After all, it’s not too long ago that we were all hunkered down for months on end at home.

As online retail has become the norm, this is certainly not the time to have a lousy website. You should aim to make the e-commerce experience a simple yet seamless one. That means you need to seek a technical overhaul so the process, from browsing to selection to purchase, is not sub-par.

A good example here is the seamless processes offered by the best mortgage companies these days. To make the process as smooth as possible, top lenders offer virtual home financing where the homebuyer need not leave the comforts of his current home just to process a home loan. In short, the experience spells unparalleled customer convenience.

In addition, you need to make your site as mobile-friendly as possible in light of the fact that more and more Americans are using their mobile devices over desktops. At this point, you can offer “buy online pick up in-store” or BOPIS to integrate both your brick-and-mortar store and website.

However, you need to ensure needed health protocols as mandated by CDC and your local government are implemented in your physical retail store. That should mean needed barriers in-store and touchless payments as called for.

Upgrading the Online Experience

If you’re not as conscientious, there’s a good chance you could be mishandling your digital strategy. It’s natural for brick-and-mortar retailers to treat their online presence like they would their physical store. Take note, however, customers view the online experience as an entirely different ball game compared to the in-store experience.

This is where you take your game a notch higher. Invest in digital capabilities that will enhance an online buyer’s overall experience. We’re talking about real-time inventory management, AI search, and predictive analytics.

A classic example here is social commerce. By incorporating real social interaction, online reviews, and peer support with social media sales, you take the online experience to a new level. By driving the online experience to be as immersive as possible wherever they are, you’re taking the customer to a unique experience that’s beyond the reach of any retail store.

You have to get creative here and push the envelope even further. Taking a page from other industries and/or institutions to expand your horizons should be wise.

For instance, many churches shut down their in-person church operations in light of the danger the virus posed. Many churches simply flocked to Zoom and other online videoconferencing tools. But Crossroads Church in Cincinnati took it a little farther. Instead of just having pastors deliver messages weekly like many would, they had their pastors go to different locations of interest and deliver the sermons from there. In the process, they drummed up greater interest.

By the same token, you should aim to make the most of digital. For one, why not hire multiple models and show how the same clothing item would look like for everybody size online. Or why not use a video to guide your customers on how to use your products?

Upgrade the In-person Experience

Think about it. People may be allowed to visit your store but the fear of the virus, something which has been inculcated to our brains by the daily counts of infections for months on end, can be too hard to overcome.

A good way for you to go about this is to hold events. When you offer such a great in-store experience, the desire to take part in those special events could be overwhelming, so much it can cause them to go out of their comfort zone. In the process, they break the negative cycle to leave you smiling from ear to ear at the end of the day.