The current global crisis has been a wake-up call for every industry, including retail. To survive, retailers need to seriously invest in technology, adapt to changing customer needs to help shorten lead times, and implement a few sustainable practices.
Need help doing this? We have put together a few guidelines and actionable recommendations that you can implement today to continue to make sales and keep your retail outlet operational during these challenging times.
Enlist the help of a professional
Although you can implement some of these steps yourself, having the help of a professional digital marketing agency can greatly improve your success margins. Buyer behaviour has shifted somewhat during the outbreak, purchase cycles and decision-making periods have become longer, which can pose a huge challenge to your online marketing efforts if you are not very experienced.
A digital marketing agency will enhance your existing offline efforts and ensure you are maximising your e-commerce site and app, and turn online visitors into purchasing clients, even if they abandon their carts initially.
Prepare for change
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest changes we have seen in shopping habits are a quick burst of panic buying, followed by massive uptake to online shopping and equally massive decrease in in-person shopping. This will be followed by a projected second wave of e-commerce growth to remain as consumer confidence grows in online purchasing.
Understanding these changes means shifting your focus towards UX and UI implementation on both your e-commerce site and app(s), as well making sure your digital purchasing structures can handle the traffic. It will also require an omnichannel approach to marketing, to make sure you are reaching consumers from all touchpoints.
Understand the market’s current needs
Most South Africans are settling into the colder seasons, while making changes to their budgets due to uncertain economic times. Adjusting to your customers’ needs means paying attention to their need for winter comforts and essentials, while taking their budget-saving mindset into consideration. This should come across in your online messaging; with a focus on budget-friendly self-care, warm items and soothing comforts.
Complement merchandising with digital
Going digital is not just about having an e-commerce site, there are lots of other things you can do to complement your online purchasing platforms. For example, you can create a newsletter to showcase your specials and use social media to promote this.
Give customers tips based on their current interests and habits on and offline. For instance, include a butternut soup and ciabatta recipe in your newsletter and then merchandise a front facing aisle with all the ingredients needed, along with a printed copy of the recipe in-store. This is especially helpful for food retailers, who would like to stand out by adding value to their customers through small, yet significant efforts.
The idea here is to create and maintain a connection online and offline, while paying attention to the tiniest details.
Improve your digital marketing game
Put any OOH and print marketing (except anything that directly enhances sales of specific items) on hold, and rather put the funds towards digital marketing spend, with strong email marketing campaigns (stats have shown email open rates have increased since lockdown with more consumers utilising desktop over mobile). In addition, increase focus on remarketing campaigns on your display marketing, by grouping this audience into smaller groups such as abandoned cart, 30-day purchase cycles, and wish-list creators. Creating push notifications for your app for these audiences is also a good idea.
Tweak your e-commerce site to include pages dedicated to special offers, styling tips, recipe pages or even a blog page to house content such as ‘5 ingredient desserts to make in under 20 minutes’, or ‘Tips on decluttering your closet’. These are all ways to elevate your digital marketing campaign to be a step ahead of the competition.
Adjust your messaging
Adjust messaging to show care and respect for the consumers’ changing needs and their current situations by going the extra mile to extend a helping hand wherever you can. For example, offering all pensioners a personal shopper or having groceries delivered and shopped for them free off charge.
Be environmentally conscious
Rebuild during and after lockdown by ensuring your business and the brands you supply are environmentally and socially aware. Make sure that you deliver on great value and customer care as spending money, even on essential goods, becomes a thought-filled process during such a tough time.
Zanthe Agrela is new business manager and marketing lead at Arc Interactive Pty, a digital ideas studio whose mission it is to make brands meaningful. Its focus has always been on developing branding and content that not only make an impact, but also a difference.
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