It is becoming increasingly obvious that the pandemic is here to stay for at least another 6 months and the abnormal online growth across multiple retail categories will continue. The brick-and-mortar retail has already accumulated a $125 billion deficiency from March and April retail sales alone. It is expected that this pent-up demand will expend itself online.
As States across the US open, the unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic will pose many challenges. This will affect retail demand, especially the purchase journeys of the customers.
Data to track purchase journeys is essential for formulating effective campaigns, acquisition strategies, and the necessary customer care infrastructure at different points of the journey. At each stage of the journey, the decisions made will affect the next stage and the final number of acquisitions and possible future acquisitions.
In the absence of such tracking, online retailers will end up losing valuable new customers and opportunities for tapping into the pent-up demand. Creating value through fulfilling customer experiences, not only helps retain existing customers but fetches more through advocacy from those customers. Such experiences can be carefully monitored and guided through each stage of the purchase journey and data can help identify weak stages where customers are lost or become disengaged.
Reports from NetElixir’s intelligence lab predicts 100% growth for small business and cautions the retailers to watch out if they are not growing at that rate. As demand mounts ever week, NetElixir’s CEO predicts that end of quarter eCommerce sales could account for 25% of total US retail sales. The important message to small businesses is this. As the COVID 19 pandemic accelerates a shift towards a more digital world, it is imperative to have the resources, tools, and partners to manage the rapid scale-up necessary for business. In the absence of such capability, businesses will be caught scrambling for technical and infrastructure support at the last minute.
Anticipating the categories in which demand will rise steeply is the next step. Here is a good lead. Initial worry about food gave rise to a huge demand in Food and grocery and this still holds good. Related retail categories need to prepare for growth acceleration. The year-on-year curve for Food and Grocery registered an explosive growth initially. Over the past months, it has quietened and become a steady growth curve. The new curve in June is closer to the growth that was witnessed in early March. While preparing for the growing demand in this segment, a conservative estimate of growth should be closer to February and must take into consideration new scenarios that will arise when restaurants open up.
In addition to the above, here are three more things to watch out for to get the best out of business.
Shopping experience: It is important to remember that people who have stayed and worked at home for the past two months have developed new online shopping habits and are not only willing to buy more, but are buying it quickly. Starting from page load times and site navigation to the checkout, all the technical and aesthetic aspects of buying must come together to make buying an easy, enjoyable, and lively experience.
Buying patterns and demand predictions: Not only new customers but return customers are also buying. And they are buying 76% more than the pre-pandemic times. Data on buying patterns and projected estimates will tell small businesses how much demand can be handled smoothly without straining the supply chain or the eCommerce infrastructure. This should be the input for calculating the availability of resources, technology, and partner ecosystem that might be necessary for a quick scale-up.
Shopping days: Changing trends and unpredictable demand also means changes in shopping hours and days. Shopping seems to be shifting from Mondays and Fridays to Wednesdays for Apparel according to NetElixir’s research team. Post pandemic growth is predicted to continue for almost 12 months over new events like back to school and holiday buying.
To sum up, small businesses need to develop
- engaging, nimble and aggressive policies for customer acquisition,
- digital strategies that integrate social,
- technologies that drive innovation and create value,
- capabilities that service a diverse customer base
- socially responsible attitudes that nurture positive customer lifestyles and mental health.
That’s a lot of interesting and intensive work for the small businesses in the days to come. So there is a silver lining to this pandemic too! We would like to hear from you about your experiences in your retail category and reach out to you with our insights from NetElxir’s intelligence labs. Do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org