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Silver Lining series - part 1

Social commerce and silver linings for shopping in times of the crisis

By Tom Vieweger

March 26 2020

Also read Part 2: How retail is adapting to the crisis and Part 3: How retailers can best prepare for business after the lockdown

The current pandemic of the Coronavirus is having a significant impact on everyone. Many of us have changed the way of working and how we organize our lives thoroughly. Retailers that are not subsumed under the category of “basic supplies” have to lock down their stores now. At the same time, many retailers find creative ways to reach their customers. Online platforms and Social commerce provide many options. Looking ahead, there must be a situation after the crisis, when stores are opening again, and customers come back to their beloved destinations of shopping.

In this blog post, I want to share some thoughts about how retailers can use the phase of lockdowns to connect with their clients and already prepare for the re-openings.

Social commerce: online shopping, live streams & videos

I see initiatives from retailers who ask their store associates to connect with their clients on social networks like Instagram, Facebook, or WhatsApp. For example, they inform you about new products and give recommendations about styling. And, last but not least, they motivate to buy online.

With live streams and videos, a retailer can even reach more customers at the same time, than they would do in their stores.

Connecting stores with online channels via marketplaces

Promoting the store’s stock in an online marketplace can compensate for the missing sales opportunities these days. Online marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Google or Zalando provide retailers with the opportunity to sell online without their own webshop.

While the marketplace can concentrate on building relevant customer access, the retailers provide their inventory. An example of intensifying the adoption of an online marketplace is eBay. In essence, they do not charge any commissions until June 30 to retailers who start selling on the eBay marketplace for the first time and, thus, intend to save the sales they miss in their stores.

Use stores as “mini hubs” and boost conversion with RFID-based stock visibility

With a “ship-from-store” service, stores are a strong asset to fulfil online orders. Products can be picked from the store’s stock and sent directly home to the shopper.

I believe that RFID can add extra value by providing real-time stock visibility. By using RFID, retailers can get much more insights into their stock levels and make sure that the online product information matches what’s actually in the stores. Additionally, especially for the process of picking, RFID provides options for locating and, thus, quickly finding items.


In times, when stores and cities are locked down, no customers can buy in a brick & mortar fashion store. However, in those cases where store employees are still allowed to enter the stores for administrative tasks, services like “Pick from Store” and “Ship from Store” can be considered as an alternative option to stay connected with customers and use the stock of a store to fulfil online orders.

Tom Vieweger
RFID business expert
Tom Vieweger