The good news is that there are a number of reasons for offline retailers to be optimistic. A number of studies have shown that despite the explosive growth of ecommerce over the past several years, the tactile in-store shopping experience is still very powerful, as evidenced by the fact that even during a global pandemic, half of all consumers are still shopping in stores.
But as brick-and-mortar businesses continue to navigate this uncharted retail landscape, there are a number of potential pitfalls they should avoid:
- Letting your guard down: Yes, we’re all growing frustrated from spending so much time at home. It is clear from the data, however, that a big proportion of the population is still massively concerned about offline shopping during this period. In this environment, it is critical that merchants maintain safety precautions to alleviate these consumer concerns—doing things such as sanitizing surfaces, limiting store capacity to encourage social distancing, and keeping mask policies in place. But it is also imperative that merchants let their consumers know about these actions and get the word out to their customers about how they are (safely) open for business.
- Ignoring delivery. Consumer demand for delivery has grown dramatically since the start of the crisis. With COVID-19 infection rates hitting and even exceeding their previous peaks, it is likely we’ll see the return of stricter quarantine orders and accompanying business restrictions on in-store activity. As a result, consumer demand for delivery will continue to remain high, and businesses should have the capabilities in place to meet that demand.
- Cutting your online marketing budget: As counterintuitive as it may seem in a down economy, now is actually a great time to boost online advertising for new customers. Since more people are staying home and spending more time online, and because many brands have reduced their marketing spend, the cost of online inventory is now comparatively low. This combination of record-high online engagement with lower internet advertising costs has meant that we are seeing some amazing digital campaign performance, and that’s expected to continue through the end of the year and beyond.
As we approach the end of the year and look toward 2021, it is apparent that we are far from being out of the woods with COVID-19. Making sure that you are prepared for what is likely to be the “next normal” will be critical to thriving in this period.
John Kelly is Zenreach’s CEO. He has extensive experience in both ecommerce and ad tech. Prior to joining Zenreach, he was Head of Seller Growth at eBay and VP of sales at Criteo, a company that pioneered retargeting technology. John has a B.A. from Brown University, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and is a Fulbright Scholar.