“Retailers must shift their commerce priorities”

06 April 2020, 07:37 AM
  • Chris Baldwin, vice president of marketing for conversational search platform Zoovu, on why adopting new digital strategies is paramount
“Retailers must shift their commerce priorities”

“In the coming weeks and months, retailers will need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and lean into ‘a new normal’. Retailers are becoming more reliant on their digital commerce strategies by the day, to make it through this time. For independent retailers, the main concern is how to ride the wave that may mean adopting an entirely new digital strategy, in a matter of days, in order to continue to trade.

“The news surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour - and the entire UK population is trying to make sense of this changing situation and increased anxiety. They are having to make decisions about everything from whether to cancel holidays to how to ensure they have the products their families need to survive at home. There are several psychological reasons why consumers will struggle to make decisions right now - and that includes knowing which products to buy. Prior to Covid-19, research showed that 40% of consumers would be willing to spend more than 30 minutes searching for the right product online, however this is not sustainable when consumers will be relying on digital channels to make all of their purchases. Furthermore, 84% of consumers are demanding more assistance and guidance when searching for products online.

“It is absolutely essential for every retailer to provide new levels of guidance online as consumers navigate a new digital-commerce-first reality. Making the process of searching and finding products online conversational and feel more human is what consumers will need in this new world of social distancing and self-isolation. In doing so, you ensure consumers are able to find the products they need quickly and easily, with 24/7 assistance, in a language they understand and can engage with, and that recognizes each individual consumer’s needs and circumstances. This will help consumers overcome any stress or anxiety they feel today as they turn to online shopping for 100% of their needs.

“As more consumers are forced to shop online to stay safe, they will inevitably habituate searching and buying products online, even in product categories that they may not have previously considered. Retailers must shift their commerce priorities, not only to act as an emergency buffer to what is happening, but to ultimately provide long-term value to consumers, for when the world eventually gets back to normal. Without sounding too much like a pessimist (I prefer realist), how quickly retailers meet these challenges may be the deciding factor on whether they make it through the tough times ahead.”

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