Time to start leading customers to your e-commerce store3 min read

The last thing already struggling brick-and-mortar retailers needed was a lockdown.

I’m painfully familiar with the feeling of despair of not having any customers walk into your store. I’d have lost my first brick-and-mortar business to the coldest winter in 50 years within the first 12 months of starting if it hadn’t been for an exceptionally supportive landlord.

During the current lockdown, clothing retailers have been the worst hit. Many of them have had to jump start their online retail while others who haven’t been so lucky have had to shut down.

Consumers are adjusting to the new normal as well.

Amidst working from home, furloughs and redundancies peoples’ priorities and shopping behaviour have changed as well.

Since the WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the demand for Toys & Games, Office Supplies and Food & Beverages have been consistently high, while understandably clothing, travel and theatres have suffered.

Perhaps the most noteworthy change is in how consumer priorities have changed.

Before the pandemic, people described Quality, Price and Brand to the be purchase drivers. Right now they value Availability, Price and Quality.

It’s time to re-invent physical retail.

Saying that things aren’t the same as they were in January is an oversimplification. Saying that everything will be “back to normal” come June is too optimistic.

Businesses may be allowed to reopen and people may start going back to work but it’ll take us the better part of this year to return to how things used to be. If we ever do; I came across an informal survey online where about half the respondents said they want to keep working from home even after they’re allowed to go back to work.

Our expectations from brick and mortar stores are changing as well.

People expect retailers to provide better safety and hygiene for the staff and customers as well as different payment methods. Businesses around the world have had to readjust to meet these needs. Finland has seen a spike in online grocery orders and in the UK ALDI started offering online grocery shopping for the first time.

Your website is now your primary retail channel.

This may not have been your plan but it’s happening, and you need to get it done right.

There can be a steep learning curve in preparing your business for e-commerce, just ask Next, but here’s how you can make the transition easier for yourself and your staff.

Communicate

You’re transitioning from offline retail to e-commerce. The first thing you need to do is to start communicating with your customers.

Tell them what they need to know to make a purchase or to reach out to you. Where possible create on-going communication through apps such as Whatsapp for Business.

Highlight

Make e-commerce the primary focus of your website. Don’t expect people to find a link somewhere in the menu. 

Advertise

The three most important things people want to know are these:

  1. What’s available?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. How will it be delivered?

Make sure that your advertising campaigns, your call-to-action and visual assets all highlight these details about products that you have on offer. 

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