We now know that pre-Covid e-commerce has led to fewer people coming to our physical stores.
So, with what looks like a very worrying festive season for millions looming what can we do to turn this trend around and increase footfall and website traffic?
All too often I hear about retailers telling us about the commercial and legacy constraints for competing in today's dynamic multi-channel world.
Is this something new, or is it a 'red flag' symptom of a fixed mindset that can't seem to find a way out of the current retail dilemmas?
"To ensure customers visit retail establishments in the future–and that’s measured in days and months for some, years not decades for others – the retail experience must be structured around the human component".
The first step is to get back to the basics of delivering on customer’s wants and needs, building trust, and demonstrating that our appreciation of the individual shopper goes beyond the sum and substance of her transactions - even more so today than ever before.
As we head into the second half of what's felt like being in the middle of some kind of dystopian Sci-Fi movie we are now having to prepare ourselves for a different kind of Christmas.
'Black Friday and Cyber Monday' are looming.
As the continued 'surge' online continues with all Supermarkets gearing up for what now seems a sustainable move to online shopping, and the inevitable toilet roll and pasta grab version two, let alone the festive season Retail is being told to prepare for the biggest ever annual cyber event, whilst logistics firms are suggesting the earlier we start our present buying the easier it will be on them.
'Simply Red' had a hit in the 80's with an old song called 'Money's too tight to mention' and I wouldn't be surprised if it makes a comeback given the current state of affairs.
If Money is Still 'Too Tight to Mention' Are 'John Lewis and Marks & Spencer' Still Doing Xmas Reveal Adverts This Year?
Furlough in the UK is being replaced with something that places more of the burden back onto employers, people everywhere are working out of they will still have a job, whilst thousands of others are working out how to pull a financial rabbit out of what looks like an extremely tiny state 'benefit' hat.
Of course their will be more transactions placed online as tighter and local lockdown measures are brought in based on the 'whackamole' strategy by governments, but rather than these being consumers switching from off to online are these simply existing, or incremental revenues - probably a bit of both?
52 percent of millennials say that they always research background information before buying goods or services, compared with 45 percent of Generation X consumers and 41 percent of baby boomers. 'McKinsey'
If this pandemic has taught business one thing it's that Companies that don't invest time, effort, and resource to keep pace with the dynamics of change tend to be the losers in the world of commerce.
What you were great at yesterday will no longer be a strategy for the future.
Today's generations know nothing other than the free to access, free to use, lo-cost, no-cost digital world that many from previous generations still find somewhat bewildering. Especially in multi-channel retail, and in particular during one of the most difficult financial periods we have experienced for 100 years.
Retail has always had to work hard at getting people through the doors, this is equally true for all online retailers.
In particular with the rise of 'social commerce' which is diverting traffic that would at one time have gone to your website, or that 'marketplace' you chose to sell your good through. Today's digitally savvy and not so loyal consumer are firmly in the driving seat, it's they who get to choose when, where, and how they interact with us.
So if you're stuck in a mindset that is saying 'let's incrementally improve' then your simply kicking the can down the road.
It's a 'holistic' world for consumers, so all companies have to think 'holistically' or die.
The next wave of disruption doesn't require you to invest in the next 'digital' big thing, it doesn't require you to bolt new tech onto old tech, it also doesn't have the patience to wait around for decades for you and your team to think about how to adjust and adapt.
Social commerce will turn us all into shoppable product demos and our life into a catalogue of stylised products. It will also introduce new revenue streams, business models, marketing strategies and regulatory hurdles. Social currency is the fuel of the modern retail economy, and community is its killer app.
If used in a 'social' way you don't need those wasted and fraudulent adverts you can no longer afford.
By 'leveraging' social media over the coming months to engage, entice, inform, educate, and dare I say it 'entertain' you might just find that the 'Covid Grinch' might just avoid your business.
Platforms that can combine both entertainment and e-commerce will win this category. As proven in China, entertainment could be in the form of social network, live streaming, user videos, product build videos or influencer content. On the e-commerce side, categories such as apparel, home products or electronic accessories should be relevant. SKUs that are low intent, low price and non-branded would be more likely to succeed.