Retailers Respond to the new Changes in Instore and Online Retail

Last year DigitalCommerce360 mined different sets of ecommerce data, analyzed it and concluded that the North American (N.A) online retail market was the best. It had grown over 15 percent to beat all other regions.

Other findings show sales for the leading 500 businesses  in the region grew even faster at 16 percent. And more than 50 percent of the studied businesses beat the market average for N.A online retail.

But 2020’s novel coronavirus may make next year a challenging year for the all merchants including the best 500.

The best 500 ecommerce merchants recorded strong internet sales, increasing their joint sales by over 16 percent in 2019,put side by side with 2018 results. This figure represents a more accelerated growth compared toN.A retail en bloc at 3.5% and N.A online retailall together at roughly 15 percent.Furthermore, over 95 percent of the best 500 retailers recorded an increase in internet sales last year.

Narrowing down to the United States alone, ecommerce sales made up for 16 percent of the collective retail sales with the exclusion of itemsnot oftenbought online. Elsewhere, in Canada, ecommerce sales made up only 3.6 percent of the total while in Mexico followed by only 1.8 percent.

Nevertheless, 2020 has more than doubled the challenge for ecommerce merchants. Since March, the novel coronavirus has caused disruptions in the N.A market affecting merchants from all three countries both constructively and destructively.

In essence, merchants who run storesand had implemented in Omni-channelabilities, ahead of Corona are now reaping the fruits of their good work.

For non-essential products like clothing,retailers have had to go the extra mile to boost up conversion rates.

In the meantime, mobile remains a strategicimplementation with mobile transactions making up approximately 1/3 ofthe gross internet sales for the best 500 retailers.

Business is shifting from storefront to Doorstep 

Business has literally shifted from storefront to doorstep with everything on hold, and everyone trying to maintain safe distance.

Merchants with a web-only presence are recording the most sales, by merchant type,in the best 500, but storefront owners are hot on their heels.

That is to say, services likethe following are yielding results for storefront retailers.

  1. Curbside pickups;
  2. buy online pick up in store (BOPIS);
  3. reserve online,
  4. in store pickups;
  5. Ship from shop; and
  6. Selling in numerous channels

Retailers are taking such unprecedented moves to meet the effects of ecommerce. Target,12thamong the best 500 retailers reported in March that its same-day order completion routes were 90 percent less costly than shipping to doorsteps.

The retailer offers expedited in store delivery and curbside pickupsthrough its Shipt service at a fee.

Target also reported that it had reduced spending on order completion by 25 percent last year since it implemented Shipt.

Shipt has completed 2.5 times more customer orders in the financial year Target closed on February 2020, than in the previous term.

According to data from Business Insider, nearly 70 percent of US customers have tried the buy online pick instore approach twice or so.

Almost 50 percent of the interviewed customers said they make buying decisions based on whether the retailer offers BOPIS.

A separate 2019 report by Adobe found 37 percent more buy-online-pickup-instore orders were placed last year than in 2018.

More findings indicated over 80 percent of shoppers who use buy-online-pickup-instore buy other products while picking up their items instore which opens new revenue opportunities for retailers.

Apart from convenience, the biggest advantage of buy-online-pickup-instore for customers is perhaps its cost effectiveness.

BOPIS is more convenient because the customer won’t blame a business for failing to deliver on time.

Coronavirus has doubled the need for speed and this approach could help reduce workload for retailers.

Follow these tips to create a simple and fast-moving BOPIS process; 

  1. A convenient pickup process begins before the shopper arrives at your store. This stage involves sending reminder messages informing the client on all BOPIS-related info and where to collect their package. Failure to offer detailed info can lead to confusion among shoppers.
  2. Customers hate to wait in queues and want to have their order in the shortest time possible. Work towards processing orders in an hour or two to increase the chances of a repeat purchase.
  3. Prepare your pickup zones to confirm and verify orders ASAP if you want the product ready for pickup on time. Staff must have instant access to the ordered items and arrange them in the right counter before informing customers that their order is ready.
  4. Lastly, streamline your customer identification and verification process. Reduce it to 1 – 3 steps to give customers an easy time collecting their products.

You also want to train all staff to adapt to this relatively new approach that combines both instore and online retail.

Meanwhile, Pressure is mounting on those stuck to 2-3 delivery days.

Online-based wedding dressmaker Anomalie cited concerns from shoppers who’ve been calling and texting through various support channels to ask whether their orders will arrivein good time, according to its CEO.

The retailer also notes that since April,gown-related shopper inquiries have increased 50 percent as bridesworry about the novel coronavirus. And for Anomalie, Customers are particularly concerned because the gown-0makerstyles its gowns in China.

To deal with thisincreasing pressure, theretailer has gone the extra mile to promise brides that their gowns will arrive no less than a month prior to their wedding dates or offer payback (worth the dress’s price) plus an extra 50 percent.

Processing more customer orders than ever also means more hiccups and extra workload for acustomer service teams.

And more hiccups means more customer service issues to tackle. And when when such unexpected issues occur, the retailer takes more heat than the shipping company—whose role is to complete delivery.

Salesforce Inc. for instance, is a live chat service that sets up chat solutions formerchants. In April 2020, the company found an over 420 percent increase in its per-week chatbot customer support sessions, compared with February results.

Chat solutions and bots are of critical importance when dealing with customer queries. They can take on simple queries and complete other demanding tasks like like a check refund or modify a shopper’s orders.

Nevertheless, live chat won’t solve all customer requests, and the retailer must go the extra mile to respond to thepiling number of orders.

Macy’s Inc. is an apparel retailer which runs multiple stores. Thanks to COVID-19, the company had to include awarning note on its website notifying customers of prolonged wait times.

But seems like it’s too late to apologize, or an apology can’t suffice for upset customers. As a result, angry shoppers turned to social media platformswith shocker reviews.

The situations is worse at Crate & Barrel, a home goods retailer who is not doing enough to deal with the current situation. Upset shoppers turned to social media platforms like Twitter with complaints of late orders and refunds.

The deadly effects of shocker customer reviews can go beyond ruined retailer-shopper relationships.

Research shows that over 90 percent of web shoppersgo through customer reviews before buying from a retailer. That means one shocker tweet could affect your conversion rates significantly.

But Anomalie may weather the COVID-19 storm because it goes the extra mile to address the shopper’s concern thus boosting upconversion rates.

On detecting increasing worries among customers, the dressmaker moved to tackle the problem head-on.

To begin with,Anomalie stylists who work with brides on gown designs contacted all shoppersto assuring them than their dresses will arrive in good time despite the effects of Corona.

Anomalie CEO also took to Instagram Live to answer to client queries concerning their orders and the current situation.

These swift responses helped assure customers that the virus would not impact its production lines; it also reduced customer churn and increased client confidence in the brand.

But with all these negatives, you may think that COVID-19 has not benefited businesses in any way.

For Anomalie, one positive lesson from this pandemic is that technologyis the future of online retail. The company says its Customer serviceis now better because shoppers aremore willing to engage in video calls than before.

Designers from Anomalie say buyers are now willing to consult via video than through phone calls. This has a positive ripple effect; the retailer can offer better service because they can see true demonstrations of what their customer wants in a wedding dress.

Parting Shot

With many pick and delivery approaches to try, it can be confusing which way to go especially if you have no clue where it may lead to.

The key to instore and online retail is to follow what works for market leaders to avoid making mistakes that could threaten your bottom line.