How Digital Transformation Can Help Retailers Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a watershed for retailers around the globe. Many businesses have already needed to close their doors, while others are hanging on by a thread. While it’s hard to take any positives from this situation, the fact is that the current crisis has forced companies to take a hard look at their business strategies and consider if those strategies have any place in ‘the new normal’. It is safe to say that many retailers no longer have the luxury of doing things the way they used to.

As companies continue to ponder their options, digital transformation has emerged as one of the key strategies for continued growth. Every day, more companies are incorporating digital communication into their customer acquisition and retention strategies. Considering the current environment, digital transformation is fast becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury, for businesses around the world.

The Present Reality

Recent studies by management consulting firm McKinsey has revealed some interesting trends:

  • Consumers are expecting the COVID-19 pandemic to have a long-term impact;
  • Customers are turning to online and reduced-contact services to buy their goods;
  • Despite the current global easing of lockdown restrictions, many consumers still feel the need to operate from home.

Retailers can learn plenty from these three trends: pessimism about the current state of affairs, combined with a general decrease in household incomes, means that consumers are likely to spend less time frequenting retail stores and spend more time shopping online for goods that they may need. This is one of the reasons why firms are increasingly embracing digital transformation.

As the consumer’s perceptions, habits and routines change, many companies have already begun shifting their acquisition and retention strategies to a digital platform to meet the new expectations. In doing so, they provide some valuable lessons for us to learn from.

Live Events Are Virtually Possible

As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat it, stream it”. No? Well, it seems that several brands have does just that. Several companies have taken the opportunity to promote their products through live streaming and video sessions. For example, fashion company Michael Kors released its latest set of handbags via a series of live stream broadcasts. The broadcasts were supplemented by various interactive features such as a mobile lifestyle quiz.

US handbag corporation Welden has used the live stream platform to great effect. Part of the company’s digital marketing strategy includes live streaming events to the Chinese market. When the Shanghai Fashion Week went online due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Welden featured its latest collection during a virtual runway session.

Considering the prevailing mood about social distancing, many retailers may start using the live broadcast option to advertise their wares.

A Customer-Orientated Omnichannel Experience

More and more companies are looking to offer an omnichannel experience to reach out to their customers. The lockdown period has seen a wide variety of retailers, from banks to retail supermarkets, offer their customers the opportunity to connect with them through various social media apps.

This approach provides the customer with more ways to connect with a company, leading to a greater level of customer satisfaction and increased customer loyalty. In an environment where the consumer is not venturing out as often as they once did, an omnichannel approach allows retailers to reach out to customers where they already are.

Customer Loyalty is Key

In these uncertain times, companies are understandably nervous about holding on to their existing customers as well as attracting new customers. Customer loyalty is key and retailers would do well to look at ways of enhancing that loyalty.

As a result, many organisations are connecting to digital customer reward platforms. UBU International is one such platform. It connects businesses to a marketplace of customers, exposing that business’s goods to thousands of potential new customers. It also offers rewards through cashbacks, meaning existing customers continue to come back for more.

We also facilitate seamless payments through our mobile wallet system, allowing companies the benefits of an marketplace without having to spend thousands on developing their system.

Rewards platforms like the one UBU International offers provides clients with a digital strategy that encompasses a great customer acquisition strategy, customer retention strategy and a marketplace to put to good use.

These are some of how digital transformation is helping companies around the globe navigate the treacherous waters of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whatever the preferred option, it remains clear that many companies will not survive the current pandemic without a competent digital strategy. While we understand that things will indeed get better at some point, the reality is that we are operating on a new set of rules. Stores may not be as full as they once were, customers may not frequent places they used to. The rise of online shopping is set to continue.

Companies who adapt and offer a solid digital strategy will continue to move forward and grow; companies that refuse to consider digital transformation may end up regretting their decision.

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