The Covid-19 pandemic has created a tipping point, significantly shifting consumer behavior and creating the opportunity for retail to disrupt itself. In response to this, we have seen that retailers have ramped up digital commerce and services such as buy online, pick up at curbside, same-day delivery, in-store contactless payment transactions, etc. and have hastened their journey towards digital enablement to achieve customer convenience and business continuity. These strategies will address immediate concerns & help retailers stay relevant in current times. However, to evolve and transform in the long term, the focus should be on innovative business models and enabling transformational change with new and emerging technologies.
We present to you a series of blogs covering long-term solutions/strategies that will promise fruitful results for the retailers, now and in the years to come.
More than ever now is the time to be doubling down on core e-commerce infrastructure because the current trends are here to stay even post-pandemic phase. We recommend retailers look at the following to deepen their foundations of a digital, nimble business for the future & to expand their digital footprint.
- As customer expectations are changing rapidly, shopping experiences you offer (CX) have to evolve alongside those changes. Retailers who have Omni channel fulfillment solutions like curbside pick-up, BOPIS, BORIS enabled can drive increased conversion and customer loyalty in the long run.
- Powered by advances in AI, NLP & ML voice-powered shopping experience can enable brands to be both seen and heard. It revolutionizes the way people perform searches on the web and mobile devices & provides a personalized shopping experience.
Johnnie Walker has taken the voice search feature to an advanced level, where the brand suggests its customers the product most suitable for them through conversations with a virtual assistant.
- Uberization and same-day delivery options are becoming more commonplace in the world of e-commerce. Retailers typically facing high demand uncertainty and often having significant capital constraints can adopt dynamic on-demand warehousing. This allows e-commerce retailers to rent small units of capacity at strategically identified locations, enabling quick delivery to wider pools of customers.
A light and experience-oriented m-commerce platform
With the world going digital, retailers need to ensure they provide a personalized experience to the customer throughout their shopping journey. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is through PWA technology, which is gaining momentum.
Benefits of Progressive Web Apps:
- Providing advanced user experience by combining the look and feel of a native app
- It comes with the capabilities of fast page load times, great user navigability for providing a personalized experience to the customer.
- PWA’s work for every user, regardless of the platform, location, or network because they’re built with progressive enhancement.
Alibaba.com is one of the biggest online business-to-business (B2B) commerce companies, serving 200+ different countries. The implementation of a Progressive Web App led to a fast and reliable mobile web experience and delivered a 76% increase in their conversions across browsers. Moreover, the number of monthly users grew by 30% on Android and by 14% on iOS.
Retailers can harness this technology to revolutionize mobile UX, drive sales & build customer loyalty.
Social media integration and sales
Social media has been largely responsible for a shift in the balance of power from businesses to consumers.
Retailers arguably have the most to gain from enabling shopping on social media as they can engage with people at just about any point in the customer lifecycle.
For instance, Lululemon takes advantage of paid Facebook advertising while also double-dipping their Instagram content. It has also managed to master Pinterest for business, promoting pins and inspiration boards featuring their products. The brand also cross-promotes content on Twitter, addresses customer service concerns and gives customers shout-outs.
Affiliate promoted selling
One of the changes in the customer behaviors which was noticed post-COVID is that they want to shop local. The Affiliate program will enable this by making your product available in the local circle by enabling the store associates to digitally sell the merchandise in their social network. Benefits include:
- A Low-risk way to promote your products
- Provides an opportunity to expand out into new markets that you might not otherwise have had the bandwidth to explore
- Affiliate/associate earning extra income in forms of commissions on the sales they make
- Improved brand visibility and Loyalty
Adopting a robust order management system
According to econsultancy.com, 38% of online shoppers will abandon their order if the delivery will take longer than a week. Retailers should consider moving to a powerful order management system to keep pace with demand and stay competitive in the long run. It allows for:
- Inventory visibility
- Routing Rule Configuration for determining the most efficient shipping location based on the order
- Flexible fulfillment options such as temporary or pop-up locations
For the retail industry, the customer experience is at the center of their business. It has thus become essential for the retail sector to adopt design thinking and technologies like Agile & DevOps, intelligent test automation technology as this will enable their business to grow, better respond to the ever-changing customer needs, and further deepen their digital footprint.
Implementing DevOps technologies and intelligent QA practices helps retailers:
- Bring about a cultural shift leading to greater collaboration across teams,
- Increases the response rate of business changes,
- Enable technology to achieve Omnichannel
- Incur cost savings as faster releases are ensured
- Create a base for future data monetization and delivering features as services
With design thinking, retailers can evaluate and anticipate gaps in customer experience that go beyond mere technology enablement and deliver empathetic and delightful customer experiences.
End of the day, all these technologies should make any retail organization agile and digitally aligned to customer personalization across channels.