Amidst the current levels of volatility, new ways of living and experiencing the world have been formed. And among these, some are going to become norms; they’re going to filter into life’s everyday expectations in calmer times.
One of life’s areas of volatility is ecommerce, as consumers are — restricted to online shopping, and worried about the basics — switching en masse towards purchasing the essentials and away from luxuries. But besides what we’re buying, equally as important is how we’re buying.
According to the Salesforce Shopping Index, companies that provide buy online pick up in-store, or as Salesforce unfortunately terms it, BOPIS — a term we wince at here at UV. We’re not prudes, but it sits on the tongue incredibly uncomfortably — saw some of the highest gains in terms of revenue during the COVID-19 Era. Websites with BOPIS (ew!) grew by 27% when compared to websites that don’t offer it, which grew only 13%.
If you look at the beginning of the lockdown, around the 10th of March until the 20th of March, the amount of money spent on sites that offered alternative delivery increased by 92%, as opposed to 19% on sites that didn’t. These alternatives include store pickup, but also drive throughs, home delivery, and curbside delivery.
It’s clear that customers are favoring brands that give high priority to safety, and are rewarding them with their money.
But what does this mean for Day One; the day we return to our regular commute to the office, to sharing food at lunch, to hugging our parents….. to behaving like, well, humans. In select states, such as Texas and Louisiana, non-essential businesses are beginning to roll up their shutters and bring life back to the streets. It is in these states where we are all looking to see what post-coronavirus commerce looks like.
Customers themselves appear to be eager to get back onto the streets and into the shops. In a recent survey by the authoritative International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), 77% of us feel comfortable returning to physical stores within two months or sooner.
So what should we expect when it comes to how businesses will reopen? There are a few strategies that can be implemented to make this stage out of lockdown a success, which a first-class ecommerce platform, such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud does extremely well. The best even.
Drive digital deeper
Lockdown has intensified the rate of acceleration of ecommerce, which was already going at breakneck speed. And unifying physical and online stores is a route that many companies are taking to provide unified experiences and driving up sales. Because customers have gotten used to digital only experiences over the last couple of months, companies are looking to provide consistency across all touchpoints, to provide digital experiences while in-store. Using geolocation services, you can offer mobile users discounts once they’re in close proximity to a store; or provide contactless payment in-store, such as touch payment, so that nothing is exchanged between customer and cashier.
In addition, there are a number of ways that you can prepare to drive digital deeper. These include making visible the inventory of each item on your website, so that customers can shop with greater accuracy; provide multiple options for pickup, whether it be store pickup, drive throughs, and home delivery, including curbside and contactless. These adaptations are easily done through the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform, which has incredible customizability.
Beyond the user shopping experience, other digital services that can connect digital with physical include creating and improving digital communities. Doubling down on social media will help to connect to a great number of potential customers as traffic on social media has increased — and don’t only focus on content; produce and publish videos that engage customers and provide some type of service that is routinely provided in physical stores: think tutorials or answers to frequently asked questions.
And for areas where lockdown remains, and while customers there remain largely locked to their laptop for shopping, physical stores remain largely empty. Yet this emptiness can become a short-term advantage as you are able to transform the aisles of the shop into large storage areas, and then connect data across channels from your new pop-up center to shop assistants and delivery drivers. Converting stores into storage areas can be quick and cost effective, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud has the capability to share data seamlessly between workers.