Ecommerce retailers have been heavily impacted by the current global COVID-19 pandemic (as most businesses have), but multichannel retailers are facing some specific challenges.
With the country in self-isolation and the majority of shops closing temporarily, multichannel retailers are now at a crossroads – do they stop trading for the time being or do they focus online?
Each retailer will approach this decision differently and it will depend on your staff, your product, your agency and many other factors. At the time of writing this guide, online retailers can still trade and the majority of warehouses and supply chains are still operational.
If you are a multichannel retailer who can continue trading and focus on online, how can you adapt, survive and thrive?
#1 – Get your online store in order
The first thing a multichannel retailer should do to adapt is to get your online store in order. For many multichannel retailers, an online store is secondary to your offline channels and so it is important that you invest initial time and energy into getting this in order.
By getting your online order up to date and ready for trading, you will be in the best position to survive and thrive.
#2 – Accept in-store loyalty cards or discount cards online
If you are a multichannel retailer, you may have separate systems for loyalty and discounts. You may have in-store only loyalty or discount cards which cannot be used by your customers online.
During this time of uncertainty, you want to really focus on customer retention and looking after your existing customer base. If your most loyal customers can no longer purchase online using their existing loyalty or discount cards, then you are at risk of losing them.
Depending on how your schemes are set up (and how manual or automatic they are), this may be difficult. You can speak to loyalty experts such as LoyaltyLion to get an idea of how to integrate or migrate this online.
#3 – Explore personalisation for your online store
Loyal customers who visit your high street stores may become familiar to your team who can recommend products based on previous purchases, or who can recommend repeat purchases (depending on the product).
It can be hard to replicate an offline experience on your online store but personalisation is a good way to do this. By personalising experiences for your existing customers, you can improve conversion rate significantly and make the most of your online store without investing heavily in new customer acquisition.
There are a number of personalisation platforms out there including Nosto, Segmentify, Bunting and Pure Clarity (who are also offering a three month trial for retailers who sign up before April 30th 2020).
#4 – Prepare as many delivery and click and collect options as possible
Delivery and click and collect options have undoubtedly changed. Your customers need different delivery options than what they needed a few months ago.
This is the hardest change multichannel retailers will need to make, but perhaps one of the most important.
Do your customers now need next day delivery for purchases that they would normally have visited your store for? Do they need nominated delivery so they can choose the day that they need delivery for? Do they need ‘click and collect’ so that they can pick up their purchases at the same time as their supermarket shop? Some customers will be at home and won’t mind when they receive their delivery. However, ‘key workers’ with unpredictable shift patterns or volunteers who are supporting local causes will need more convenience.
The most important thing here to consider is to give your customers as much choice and convenience as possible. For more insight into how the delivery and ‘click and collect’ landscape has changed, watch our interview with HubBox here.
#5 – Drive online footfall with paid search
Once you have your online store maximised, you need to make sure you can drive online footfall. Whilst there are many ways to do this, paid search can be an effective strategy for driving conversion-ready traffic to your site.
At the moment, we are seeing decreased cost-per-click metrics, and so it may be a good opportunity to build and manage your paid search campaigns now in order to make sure your online store and your products are visible in search.
Survive and thrive
It is a challenging retail environment and there is a lot of uncertainty. However, retailers who are surviving and thriving are those who are listening to their customers and providing a strong customer experience.
Support for retailers is out there. Whether you need advice on Magento 1 end-of-life, or you need help with PPC strategy, we are happy to offer our expert insights. Get in touch and we can explore how we can help.