COVID 19 will be one of the most defining events of our lifetime. We definitely are living in one of the most unprecedented times. There is no doubt that this will have a long-lasting impact on the world economy and as per the estimates, it will take a minimum of 6-9 months for businesses and economies to bounce back. 

 

As the governments across the world scramble to respond to the health crisis, one of the responses has been complete lockdowns of various cities. Quarantine, social distancing, self-isolate, and WFH (Work from Home) have become normal words in everyday use. As people stay at home, many new habits are being formed which might very well stay after the virus finally recedes and the crisis is over. It becomes imperative for organizations to respond to changed consumer habits to remain relevant.

 

Brick and mortar retail has been one of the worst-hit sectors by COVID19 with shopping centers, malls, restaurants ordered to close down. As more consumers log on to the internet, including many who would be placing their first order online, this black swan event will turn out to be positive for the eCommerce industry. A recent Adobe analysis shows that eCommerce players have witnessed an over 800% increase in sales of hand sanitizers, masks, gloves, and antibacterial solutions since the advent of COVID. Similarly, other categories including grocery have also seen a huge uptick in demand, driven majorly by fear. But post the crisis, we believe convenience will overtake fear as the main factor pushing the digital growth further to what we believe will be the new normal.

 

While the digital channels of the retail stand to benefit, most enterprises are not ready yet. A recent survey among brand executives showed that only 17% of the executives believed that their organizations lead in the digital space. The majority of the remaining interviewed believed that they are playing a catch-up game. The enterprises which till now have considered digital as a secondary sales channel need to recalibrate their strategies and reorient their business models in order to leverage the new opportunities. We believe the enterprises need to put in efforts in the following things:

 

Make Digital a core part of everyone's job- Enterprises need to bring about a cultural change to make digital eCommerce a part of everyone's job. It needs to more than just a marketing gimmick. While a majority of the enterprises do have a digital presence in the form of web apps and eCommerce mobile applications, they are not considered the primary sales channel. It is important to understand that building a successful digital channel is much more than building an eCommerce mobile app. To achieve success, eCommerce goals need to be set up and cross-functional KPIs need to be built across the departments.

 

Focus on Online Brand Reputation- Positive customer reviews and ratings play a pivotal role in creating a strong online brand. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content management and other initiatives around product discovery can play a major role to build a strong brand reputation. Curated quality content plays a major role to keep the audience engaged.

 

Focus on quality user experience- It is important that the enterprises maintain the highest quality of user experience for the consumers transacting online. High-quality eCommerce experience can be achieved by having quality websites and mobile applications with great navigation, one-click checkout process, multiple payment options are a must-have. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) features allow the consumers to interact more closely with the products, thereby increasing the likelihood of making a purchase. The brands need to use push notifications with content consistent with the needs of their consumers. A recent survey shows that consumers are more likely to try out new products if they can interact with the product

 

Be found- The COVID presents a unique challenge to the existing players- keep their supply chains functional and ensure product availability. Due to the unprecedented demand, consumers are not able to purchase the products they require. They are willing to substitute brands and try out new products. This presents a chance for newer players and brands to reach brand-loyal consumers and win lifelong loyalty for their own brands. This is where strong digital marketing initiatives can yield results. A strong digital marketing strategy can ensure good product visibility.

 

Stay true to your core values- It is important that the enterprises stay true to their core beliefs and values, keep the communication open. eCommerce is a different ball game compared to physical retail. It allows you to continuously experiment with your pricing, promotional and content strategy and measure the impact in real-time. Brands must keep experimenting but still make sure they do not compromise on their core values. 

 

Even before the pandemic struck, the shift to eCommerce was visible and many product categories had been disrupted. We believe the pandemic will only accelerate the transition to digital commerce and a majority of the consumers who do shift to eCommerce during this period will continue to purchase online even after the virus finally recedes. The brands and enterprises need to act swiftly to reorient their business models to digital commerce and make eCommerce a part of their core business. This is a unique opportunity to be more ingrained in consumers' lives.

 

Innovantes is a globally recognized player known for developing the best mobile applications enabling enterprises and startups in various domains to successfully build eCommerce businesses. Our feature-rich mobile applications encompassing VR and AR capabilities have allowed our clients to establish themselves as eCommerce leaders in their verticals. Reach us to discuss how we can accelerate your digital transformation to an agile eCommerce leader.

Author


Paramvir Bakshi