Covid-19 has transformed the world we live in. It has a long-lasting impact on everything we do including businesses. The retail sales were reduced by a whopping 8.7% in March 2020 in the USA, the lowest ever. And it further dropped by 16.4% in April 2020. To give you an idea of its magnitude, the retail sales in the USA in great recession decline by 4% only at its peak:
Pandemic has changed consumer spending behavior. Consequently, you need to update your retail business strategy to fight this crisis. Things are improving gradually but there is a lot that you need to do to survive and even grow your retail business after the Covid-19.
Here are the best techniques for retailers that will help you survive during and after the pandemic:
1. Optimize Digital Store
No, this isn’t just limited to having a website or an ecommerce store. You need to optimize your online store to improve customer experience. It isn’t just about having an online presence.
The most important aspect of digital store optimization is updating inventory and ensuring that every product is available online with detailed specifications, images, videos, technical details, etc. Importantly, you need to sync inventory and keep it updated all the time. This is more important now than ever.
Consumers are now more concerned about health and safety due to Covid-19 and prefer minimal contact with people. A fully optimized digital store will ensure that your consumers have access to every single product digitally without leaving their homes.
2. Omnichannel Retailing
Why not take your retail business to a new level by implementing a full-fledged omnichannel strategy? Omnichannel retailing refers to providing a consistent experience across all the touchpoints. It includes all the channels (online and offline) where a potential consumer can interact with your business.
It includes a website, digital store, brick-and-mortar store, mobile app, social, SMS, email, and others. Your potential consumers buy from a wide range of platforms irrespective of demographics. Here is an overview of the places US consumers have purchased in the last six months:
You need to be on all the channels and the experience you offer across all these channels must be consistent – that’s what omnichannel retailing is all about. The omnichannel strategy covers everything:
For example, the pricing and inventory should be updated in real-time on all the channels.
3. Point of Sale System
It will be tough to offer an omnichannel experience without a Point of Sale (POS) system. A sophisticated POS system will help you with sales and inventory management, CRM, employee engagement, and UX.
It is essential for an omnichannel strategy to have a robust POS system in place as it helps you keep track of each sale and helps you manage inventory in real-time.
Omnichannel and POS make your retail business a unified whole and no matter what channel a consumer uses to buy from you, the experience will be unified yet personalized. Importantly, you’ll be able to control everything from a single dashboard.
4. Financial Management
There isn’t anything worse than a financial crisis for a business. One thing that you must do after the Covid-19 crisis is to reduce expenses and cut costs. Develop a financial strategy for your business and look for opportunities.
Ask yourself: Do you have the financial resources to survive after the pandemic? If your answer is no, look for funding options such as:
- Look for an SBA loan
- Consider diversifying and differentiation. Maybe move to niche marketing
- Partnership opportunities and business partners.
Whatever you do, get back up and start serving your consumers again as quickly as possible because that’s how you will be able to get out of the crisis.
According to HBR, retailers must not expect business to return to normal. This is the new way to do business and the quicker you understand and adapt – the better. McKinsey survey revealed that consumers are expected to stick with the current buying behavior (online purchases from home) and aren’t ready to switch anytime soon.
As a retailer, your best bet is to switch to an omnichannel strategy and take your business not just online but make it fully digital. This is the best way to move ahead.