What Retailers Need to Do to Offset COVID-19

woman with shopping bags illustration


Not many of us could have predicted the reality that we find ourselves in right now, and with government advice strongly recommending, and in some cases mandating, staying away from deemed non-essential brick and mortar stores, the retail space is taking a heavy hit.

However with a (re)focus on cloud-based omnichannel ecommerce, attracting trade with customer-first convenience, and keeping them coming back with innovative loyalty programs, agile retailers can adapt to capitalize on growing trends, and retain their competitive edge.

Inside is The New Outside

With so many consumers practicing social distancing from the safety of their homes, the available cash that they routinely used for social activities is being reallocated to activities within the home. While  online subscription services have seen a huge spike in sales as you may expect, Netflix can only do so much and so consumers are spending their money on making the best of a bad situation offline, delaying focusing their efforts on constructing the latest in tinfoil headwear.

However, there is one factor, above all others, that will be the difference between conversion and aversion: convenience.

Retail Survivalists are The Kings of Convenience

During these unforeseen times, consumers value convenience more so than ever. Not only that, but what they want, they want fast. While self-isolating shows no end date in sight, the same cannot be said for consumers attention spans – if it is too complicated to order, or it takes too long for them to get it, they bail from the sale.

They want it easy, and fast. If not with you, then somewhere else. So it pays to give them what they want, when they want it, and to get the edge over the competition by rewarding their purchases with loyalty points to bring them in and keep them in.

So to deliver what they’re asking, you’ll need the right ecommerce tech stack to match. Here are the five vital components for your tech stack that will allow you to you roll with the changes during these unprecedented times:

Elevate Your Ecommerce Operations to the Cloud

Now more than ever, the ability to run your ecommerce business from wherever you need to be isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Nationally and locally imposed mobility restrictions are becoming more and more commonplace, so chanceing being able to run your business from a static location is increasingly becoming more and more untenable.

By running your business on the cloud, you can do so from anywhere. Look for a digital platform specifically built for the retail sector so you can be confident that it’s in your corner 24/7.

Automate Your Fulfilment 

Whether you’re plugging gaps left by unwell staff, those remote working, or you’ve been forced to let people go to balance costs, automating your fulfilment process is, by anyone’s rationale, the most productive way to do more with less. Instead of focusing on every order, automate the repeatable to catch the exceptions.

Retail automation essentials:

  • Revolves around intuitive rule-based workflows
  • Automates your entire order-to-cash process
  • Takes minutes to set up and change, increasing your agility
  • Saves time on manual tasks and lowers human error

Forecast demand with data, not guesswork

With consumers expecting the world while theirs is in disruption, running out of stock is one sure fire way to lose their business. In this climate, guessing your way through is risky, and the pitfalls deep. Instead, look to drive your inventory management optimization with data and leave for the margin for error at the door.

There are so many question marks surrounding this pandemic, but optimizing your inventory doesn’t need to be cloaked in one. Seek out reliable, intelligent, inventory demand planning.

Demand planning essentials:

  • Automatic replenishment forecasting that align with sales predictions
  • Real-time KPI reporting to see how inventory is moving
  • Identify overstock to improve inventory turnover

Barter smarter with analytical intelligence

Unprecedented times can result in unexpected sales peaks, not to mention troughs. Forecasting the demand is half the story, the other half is analysis of your customer behavior.

If you’re seeing huge spikes and you want to know why, or you want the goods on what’s not selling so you can drive your marketing campaigns with hard data, retail analytical reporting and intelligence is where it’s at.

Retail analytical essentials:

  • Analysis of sales and performance
  • Real-time accounts payable and receivable
  • On-demand P&L and balance sheet generation
  • Low-inventory quantities definition

Draw Consumers in, and Keep Them in, with Loyalty Programs 

With the end date of our current climate still unknown, the pressure to cut costs is at an all-time high. So is the pressure to retain existing customers.

Loyal customers spend more money. They do it more frequently, and they cost about 7-10 times less to keep than it does to acquire a new one.Which is why it’s vital to offer such programs  to all your customers, whether they buy from you through point of sale, or, solely through e-commerce channels (as is the case right now for the majority of retailers).

Loyalty program  essentials:

  • Use through e-commerce or point of sale
  • Creation of promotional codes and vouchers
  • Integrations with industry-leading gift card, loyalty and promotions providers

Adapting by evolving your tech stack to incorporate these components will arm your business with what it needs to weather the storm, and for any further information on navigating the retail technology landscape, take a look at our handy report below!