Retail

3 Questions to Ask Yourself as the New Normal Takes Hold in Retail

November 12, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the past two years, retailers, owners, and basically most consumer businesses have set their sights on ecommerce and digital. reported “exceptional growth in online ” in Q2 2020 as the company saw sales through its ecommerce channel jump 93 percent. put all its effort into its own retail website after withdrawing from , resulting in an 80 percent year-over-year increase in its ecommerce sales — and it doubled its market capitalization. New brands, such as Brooklinen, have used the Internet as leverage to jumpstart their businesses.

Countless buzzwords and new ideas are flying around these days. Commercial services have also become crazier than ever. Taking all these into consideration could offer some positive impact on your business. These may even help you improve your performance , grow your number of users, boost your conversion rate, increase your revenue and lower your costs. However, as leaders, we need to go back to the basics and determine the most suitable strategy that would cater to and prioritize the unique demands of our organizations. Here are some questions we may need to clarify first.  

Related: Can E-Commerce Save Retail?

1. Who is your customer and what does their customer journey look like? 

After solid definition, think about: 

Multichannel but centralized

Different companies will of course have different customer journeys. For example:

  • First you watch , then you visit the offline retail store and buy the product.
  • First you check Facebook and see product promotion, then you go Amazon to search and purchase.
  • First you search Google for a certain product, then you watch a tutorial on , then you go to the brand’s website to purchase. 

Any or all of these could be the customer journeys of your target customers, depending on their shopping preferences and how they are guided through the process. Brand owners certainly do not want to miss out on any selling opportunities or channels. However, we need to have a clear picture on which platforms are valuable to us and how to manage these effectively. Glossier recently launched a software as a service (SaaS) platform with subscription to test their new ideas. The beauty company’s initiative provided them with huge benefits on agile and personalized marketing across multiple channels, which were especially valuable during this pandemic.  

Shorten and optimize for each touch point  

Traditionally, marketers have believed that consumers would only get an impression of a brand after seeing it four to five times. Only then would they consider making a purchase. However, this has changed in the digital era. Examples that demonstrate this shift in the buyer’s journey can be seen in China’s social commerce practices, which include live streaming and influencer marketing. Nowadays, consumers finalize their decisions to purchase cosmetic products, home appliances and groceries in a matter of seconds and without even physically checking the items. This shift in consumer behavior demonstrates that the distance between customers and businesses could be just a few clicks away.

Related: 5 Tips to Scale a Successful Direct-to-Consumer Brand in 2020

2. What is the value proposition and differentiation that your customer would appreciate? 

After solid definition, think about:

Direct-to-consumer with brand value

Brands and merchants must showcase their unique values to attract users and followers. Although a multichannel approach could be useful in reaching more potential customers, a brand that fails to stand out from the competition will only be buried in the marketplace or be forced to participate in a price war. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear plan on how to communicate the distinct value of your brand and ensure that it resonates with your target consumers’ touch points. For example, a good ecommerce brand website will build your brand story, unique consumer experience and direct to your customers to increase your conversion rate, unit customer value and retention rate.  

Data-driven automation 

A consistent user experience triggered by data-driven automation along the customer journey is critical to build differentiation in consumers’ minds. However, this process can be challenging and could result in the disruption of the working model and coordination among the marketing, content, data analytics, management information system (MIS), operations and teams. Conversely, it could also be a one-off investment in terms of the integration or change in management of a content management system (CMS), data management platform (DMP), workflow system, personalization setting, and marketing channel integrations.    

Related: How Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Move Online in a Hurry

3. How can you adapt and act fast to make the most out of opportunities?

After solid definition, think about:

Growth team with the right technologies

Nowadays, new media, new platform and new marketing channels pop up quickly. In order to catch up with the trends, it is no longer enough that the growth team only exists in firms. It has also become critical in retail and several other businesses to leverage capabilities across different departments to drive growth. As mentioned, the success of the company involves the collaborative efforts of different teams and systems. Hence, it is critical to establish a team that takes ownership and has a growth mindset to enable the company and every employee to better adapt and grab new opportunities. 

It will not be easy to keep brands relevant and continuously growing for years, especially during this fast-changing digital era. Going back to basics to review these fundamental questions in the context of the new trends is crucial for company leaders who must launch and deploy strategic initiatives from a top-down perspective to move the fleet efficiently. 

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