As things continue to unfold regarding COVID-19, consumers have been forced to shift more of their attention and their spending online. Retailers have had to adjust to the rapidly changing situation and develop new crisis management strategies. Retail’s new normal post-COVID-19 makes proactive and consistent retail communications even more key during these less-than-normal times.
Retailers that have temporarily closed physical locations or have had to adjust store hours are now relying on their digital presence to remain available to customers. Although COVID-19 has forced a more rapid and widespread adoption of this type of engagement, this change has long been in the making.
In this post, we’ll discuss what can be done now and in the future to improve retail communications during COVID-19, the long term effects this crisis will have on retail going forward, and how digital strategies can help position you to persevere this current business disruption.
The New Normal: How COVID-19 Will Push Retailers Online
It would be hard to dispute that COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives. It’s changed the way we work, how we think, and the way we buy. Recent research from Nielsen reveals that COVID-19 will leave a lasting impression on consumer’s preferences and retailers business model.
Nielsen believes that consumers will emerge from their homes and settle back into their local markets with retails “new normal” a solid reality, post COVID-19. People will eventually return to their daily routines but they’ll have a “renewed cautiousness about health,” As part of this renewed caution, there will be a permanent shift to e-commerce.
Retailers Should Invest Now To Prepare for The Future
According to research by Econsultancy, now is the time for retailers to invest in digital transformation as more consumers go online for goods and services during the outbreak. While 87% of marketers in North America predict an increase in the use of online services by consumers in the midst of the outbreak, 51% of the same group admit that spending on technology was delayed or under review.
87% of marketers predict an increase in the use of online services in the midst of the outbreak
These findings signal that businesses may be unable to cope with the additional demands on digital services and infrastructure during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That is, unless investment is pulled forward.
How should retailers address the current spike in online activity while keeping an eye on budgets? That’s a tough question with a really simple answer – messaging and chatbots. Enabling your current landlines to send and receive messages over SMS/text and adding web chat opens up asynchronous channels that enable you to do more with the staff you have. Chatbots deflect calls and messaging makes your agents 7x more efficient.
An investment in messaging and bots is the short-term crisis solution for retailers with long term-benefits. Here are 4 benefits of a digital investment that can pay off now and in the future.
4 Benefits of Digital Investment for Retail Stores
Capture More Sales
Contact centers are overwhelmed with calls. Many of them have sent their agents to work from home and have suspended all phone calls, relying on web chat and online support.
These changes require retailers to develop new ways to sell…or fail. The success of their digital strategies will determine which companies survive and which don’t. Quiq’s messaging platform leverages bots to capture consumers’ intent, route conversations to the most appropriate queue, and even help consumers complete purchases.
Don’t lose sales to call abandonment or missed conversations with customers. Help customers find what they need and complete their purchase using messaging or chat.
Scale your Current Workforce
All retailers face similar issues when handling customer service phone calls, including staffing, especially during peak times. This current situation has caused unprecedented demand.
Instead of agents handling one phone call at a time, messaging equips agents to address multiple, simultaneous conversations. Quiq’s messaging platform enables agents to handle 7x more conversations than phone calls. And using bots across your digital channels helps eliminate calls that can be resolved without the need to talk to a human agent.
Communicate to Customers en Masse
Even in the midst of curtailed hours and store closures, retailers are shifting their strategies and serving on the front lines of an effective response to the COVID-19 crisis. Many retailers are providing drive-up COVID-19 testing, home delivery, curbside pick-up, and other essential services.
Using outbound messages keep your customers informed of special services available now, which will solidify your connection with your community and let them know you’re here to help. Things are changing daily, even hourly, being able to communicate quickly is essential. As things improve, you’ll be able to keep your customers informed of changes, special events, or new services in the future.
Inform Customers of Adjusted Hours & New Promotions
It was critical to inform consumers of adjusted operating hours as the pandemic began. It’ll be just as critical to inform them of adjustments to hours and services as things go back to “normal”.
While no one knows when we will be getting back to daily routines, we all remain hopeful it will be soon. When it does, you can notify them of your availability and any special promotions.
Keeping customers informed isn’t something that just needs to happen during a time of uncertainty. During peak times, like the holiday season, you’ll be able to alert customers of extended hours or special promotions.
Investing In The Future With Customer Messaging
In previous posts, we’ve covered how consumers’ preferences have changed. Conversational commerce has grown at a steady pace for the past few years. Retailers are relying on new digital strategies to engage with consumers with mobile technology at the core.
The wake of COVID-19 will leave the retail landscape forever changed. Retail’s new normal post COVID-19 demands a new approach. Schedule a demo to see first-hand how messaging and bots lets you do more with less.