The COVID-19 pandemic continues to force retail stores to close, signaling an unprecedented disruption of commerce. It is rapidly accelerating the transition to digital commerce. As consumers are being asked to practice social distancing, e-commerce orders for groceries, and other essentials have become a survival tool for millions. Many families are trying digital grocery services for the first time.
According to data from Rakuten Intelligence, online order volume from full-assortment grocery merchants rose 210.1% from March 12 through March 15, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Additionally, retailers at present are experiencing a trail of challenges such as long checkout queues, longer order lifecycle times, increased customer service and support requests, and more.
A clear priority for every retailer is to embrace digital retail solutions as well as utilize e-commerce development services, delivery, mobile technologies, and strategies. Each one should focus on accelerating virtual engagement strategies by amplifying their digital channels, be it messaging, chat, co-browsing, email, social, or self-service to sail through this disruption.
How Retailers can quickly adapt?
A few retail strategies and solutions to cope with these constantly changing buying patterns are as follows:
- Retailers with an online presence can introduce innovative ways of fulfilling orders – be it establishing an Online-to-Offline platform or building sophisticated digital logistics and payment reconciliation capabilities to be in the lead in this race to recovery.
- Retailers can leverage AI-powered Chatbots for their e-commerce portal that provides online customer service straight away & handles multiple requests simultaneously thereby elevating CX.
- Brands will need to improvise and capitalize on online personalization efforts to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Personalized engagement will play an important role especially in selling essential category items (groceries, medicines and personal care/wellness items) as consumers seek more direct and empathetic communication from brands.By utilizing, personalized engagement platforms, brands will be able to communicate to them & keep them posted about their internal developments.
- Retailers can start their own online grocery stores. It is going to be increasingly important during these times as it enables contactless shopping and simplifies the buying experience.
- Big grocers like Walmart, Albertsons, Stop & Shop, Meijer, Hy-Vee, and others have been experimenting with new ways to fulfill online orders to keep aisles from jamming up with shoppers and workers picking customers’ orders.
Grocers have been building automated mini-warehouses inside their stores and opening up “dark stores” — locations that look like supermarkets but are closed to customers — to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders.
- Retailers can introduce BOPIS(Buy Online Pick-up In-Store) with a curbside option. BOPIS shopping grew 28 percent year-over-year in February, according to data from Adobe Analytics. It is particularly suited to weathering the COVID-19 outbreak, as it can limit the time consumers spend in public areas, and merchants can continue operating even as home delivery services come under strain.
To sum it up, we all knew the world was turning digital. But for all we know, the pace has suddenly increased exponentially. It is at our doors, knocking down the traditional walls right now, as opposed to by 2030 as we all were expecting. This change will require a paradigm shift in strategy from brands. Only the agile ones will survive. Only the ‘Truly Omnichannel’ ones will prosper.
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