The earlier months of 2020 was a challenge for every business, especially for those in the retail sector because they were suddenly forced to shut down. Some used this time to discover other ways to continue their operations and stay competitive even during the pandemic. Though most companies and businesses have already undergone digital transformation and have built their presence online, it was not enough.
The global health crisis has forced everyone to embrace technology. Everything has to be done online if they want to continue their operations even when in lockdown. The biggest threat for the retail industry is not the virus, but the possibility of bankruptcy and closing down permanently. Though the experience of going inside and shopping within the physical stores are irreplaceable, the need to transition online is important if they want to keep their businesses open.
Even if the lockdowns ease and the economy reopens, it will never be the same. Going digital and online is still a must. Ecommerce operations are the new normal. Here are some of the ways on how a small retail business can survive the challenges of going digital.
1. Create a user-friendly ecommerce website
Nowadays, it’s easy to create a website from scratch. For something that is already built-in with ecommerce capability, Shopify is the widely popular go-to website creation platform for those in the retail industry. Make sure that the user experience is seamless. The simplest way is to take good photos of your products and have them on display on the website for customers to place an order.
Another way to supplement this effort is to create an account with established online shopping websites with existing infrastructure for ecommerce. In this way, you can also target the current customers of these websites.
To make it user-friendly and engaging, work on improving the sales copy. In any case, you can hire a team of tech and creative experts to help you with this website project.
2. Build partnerships with delivery and courier services
Online purchases will never be complete without shipping them to the customers. To ensure a seamless online shopping experience, retail stores can partner with a trusted delivery or courier service provider. Shipping duration might be slower due to the huge demand for deliveries but it is understandable and can be worked out with good customer service.
Other businesses even hired their own team of delivery drivers to help those who lost jobs during the pandemic. If you have additional budget to build your own roster of delivery personnel, you can certainly do so.
3. Make use of remote teams for business ops
It is important to continue with business as usual. Hire a team of work-from-home personnel that will look at everything and keep the business running smoothly. Retail stores would need groups dedicated for partnerships and operations, and another team dedicated to customer needs. They have to make sure that the processes from store to customer are seamless.
Even with customers already online, they still need to experience a great customer service experience. This is not just to process orders and look at complaints, but to ensure engagement as well. Especially with an online presence, it is highly recommended to have remote teams in different time zones to cater to a global customer reach. Remember that being digital and staying online means there is a demand for instant responses.
With this pandemic taking over the year 2020, human interaction is definitely transforming into something more socially distant. Going digital is the only way to go and retail stores should be able to adapt. Moving their business from a physical shop to online is only for the better. Next steps would be to promote their online presence and take their loyal customers to this new platform.