Stating the blindingly obvious the retail industry has been most impacted by enforced behavioural changes in consumer demand as a result of the pandemic and today’s consumers want immediate, easy, 24/7 shopping experiences. 

Not a lot new there then?

The global retail industry has also undergone many changes and transformations, and most of these internally perceived changes have been facilitated by technology. 

This allowed brands to carry out what the tech told them was a better consumer experience, gather valuable feedback from users, and assuming they are indeed listening to the customers even anticipate and customise trends well in advance.

In my experience this has led to a bias in a transactional experience where 'getting them (customers) into and through funnel' is still the key focus of every eCommerce website today.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see the disruptive signals that toppled many leading retailers.

But in reality, these signals were often faint and hard to spot. And few companies even knew to look for them. Strategic risks can attack the basis of your competitive advantage, undermining your ability to sustain exceptional performance. 

Without historical precedent, strategic risks are immune to traditional risk management methods.

Change is driven by leadership mindset, businesses that cling to a legacy thinking mindset 'we can't change because of' type of excuses, or our 'legacy systems can't just be thrown away', or 'our leaders don't do what they ask us to do' are the most common 'blockers' of any change.

Pre-Covid Retail has always had to work hard at getting people through the doors, this is equally true for all online retailers. 

With consumers moving more of their shopping online during the crisis and today getting an internalised 'good enough' experience retailers should be asking 'who in their 'change making' team are focused on answering the big question around 'how we deliver an outstanding multi-channel' experience post Covid in order to not only maintain that edge, but continue to win out over the competition?

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 goods through - and they get to keep what you thought was your customer!.

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. 

When I look to benchmark strong 'social leaders' they all seem to adopt five key behaviours. 

They are…

1) Authentic – They are “real”; in other words, genuine, believable human beings that you warm to. It’s one of the reasons why leaders are increasingly outperforming brand social media channels.

2) Conversational – They get involved in the conversation, by replying to comments and questions. “Likes” aren’t enough. And, it’s not just a broadcast all about them. Connected leaders listen.

3) Have a purpose that inspires – Connected leaders’ content isn’t just there for the sake of it, or rehashing posts from the PR team. It has a purpose that relates to their core beliefs and mission.

4) Share insights – Leaders haven’t got there by accident – it’s because of a lot of hard work, commercial acumen and talent. People want to know how they got there. So their insights and opinions are invaluable.

5) Present – This is both about having a regular cadence of posts and activity (no drive-by Likes) and thinking holistically about their digital footprint and public profile. For top leaders it’s not enough just to be on LinkedIn. They need to think bigger and more broadly.

So, how does your socially Covid leadership team stack up?