Silver Linings series: part 2
How retail is adapting to the crisis
By Tom Vieweger
By Tom Vieweger
The first shock seems to be over. Despite, or even specifically due to the (social) distance, retail is adapting to the crisis by finding new ways to stay in touch with customers. Directly after the lockdown has become into effect, retailers started to use online channels and in the meantime, many new initiatives have emerged. This blog post summarizes some practical and creative examples I have seen over the last few days.
Brands and retailers are very active on social media. Digital channels such as WhatsApp Business, Instagram or Facebook are used to continue communicating with customers.
The content more and more refers to the actual situation these days and often exemplifies how retailers genuinely help others. For example, various retailers are campaigning for physical distancing.
We know about live shopping from TV broadcasters such as QVC. In times when musicians give live stream concerts and authors conduct online readings, now also fashion retailers conquer online streams.
Especially in China, many retailers have adopted teleshopping in the past few weeks and have turned their sales associates into live streamers. You simply need a smartphone with an internet connection and a streaming app.
A major advantage is that a live stream provides better and more personal advice and emotionalization than simple product photos on a marketplace or in an online shop. This type of selling is particularly personal and approachable.
An example is adidas, which hosted an exclusive online debut of its limited-edition Superstar sneaker during its Super Brand Day. Its “See Now, Buy Now” stream, which lets consumers make real-time purchases of featured items from their mobile phones, drew 2.23 million viewers.
When retailers are forced to close their stores, more customers turn to online alternatives. Many online marketplaces offer free participation during the Corona crisis in order to support brick-and-mortar retailers. As a consequence, stores are utilized as a kind of “mini DC” or “omnichannel hub” by applying ship-from-store services.
For example, Lululemon is currently re-staffing some stores to fulfil e-commerce orders. RFID-based inventory tracking will enable flexible e-commerce fulfilment and allow Lululemon to proactively manage inventory.
Some stores are preparing pre-packed boxes for their customers. These boxes include fashion products from various categories based on personal style recommendations. Meanwhile, as we all are now spending most of our time indoors such a fashion care package can be a good way to get some fresh style.
While the actual situation should not become “the new normal” these examples show how retailers find new and creative ways to connect with customers.
Public facilities, retail stores, offices and schools will cautiously start reopening. Let’s stay strong, look into the future and use the next days and weeks to prepare for “revival day” – the day when stores reopen and retail comes back to life.