How to Pandemic-Proof Your Retail Business
This pandemic is showing where the future of retail is headed: in the digital sphere. Global e-commerce sales, in fact, are estimated to reach $4.2 trillion (€3.5 trillion) by the end of 2020 — a clear indication that going digital is, indeed, the way to go. Tellingly, some 57% of online shoppers worldwide would be willing to share personal information with an online brand as long as doing so will benefit their shopping experience. Having said that, going digital isn’t merely about creating a website and selling your products online.
Of course, going digital is the most important step to pandemic-proofing your retail business, as evidenced by that projected €3.5 trillion in eCommerce sales buoyed by the shifting buying habits of consumers, who are now transacting online a lot more due to the pandemic keeping many of them home. That figure is expected to increase moving forward too, with Statista estimating eCommerce sales to rise to $4.9 trillion (€4.1 trillion) next year, before going up to as much as $5.7 trillion (€4.8 trillion) in 2022 and $6.5 trillion (€5.5 trillion) in 2023.
This upward trend is due to the growing number of people doing business via eCommerce. Needless to say, tapping into this vast pool of newly found digital customers will benefit your business. And in the off-chance that your organization isn’t in the e-commerce business already, you don’t have to go at it alone. Instead, all you have to do is to find the right partner that is agile, and has the requisite experience and technical expertise to usher your business into the digital age —and that’s exactly the kind of services we at Net Group can provide.
Once you’ve gone digital, the next step is expansion, with a keen eye towards the lower market entry barrier of e-commerce businesses as opposed to brick-and-mortar stores. That said, the onus is on you to harness that low barrier, and you can do that by scaling your shipping capacity, creating a multi-language online storefront, and establishing a dedicated marketing support for new markets. And, where possible, do convert from a website extension approach to a full-fledged e-commerce platform, then future-proof it too, as we discussed in the blog post ‘Future-Proof E-Commerce Platform for Any Business’.
The number of options is vast when choosing technology to enable digital growth of your business. Based on market and customer feedback a great platform to support you in gaining, converting, and retaining customers while expanding to new markets is nopCommerce.
The platform is:
- free to use for any size company;
- has over 1500 extensions and plugins to boost marketing and support localization;
- is fully customizable to fit your business needs;
- provides a multi-language and multi-currency support out of the box.
It´s a great choice for companies looking to start their journey in e-commerce but also for more established businesses looking to up their game in the world of e-commerce.
It is also imperative now more than ever that you reinvent your business processes, particularly as regards shipping and supply chain processes. Specifically, it is crucial that you replace brick-and-mortar distribution chains and processes with direct-delivery strategies. That’s because your eCommerce channel will ultimately receive more orders, what with 67% of millennials now preferring to shop online, even as 56% of Gen X-ers now partake in eCommerce.
You also need to take into account how 41% of Baby Boomers are turning to online shopping, along with 28% of seniors who now prefer to do the same thing. This increase in demand will necessitate a more efficient delivery system, and it is better that you begin right now, so you are prepared by the time business picks up and orders trend upward.
Pandemic-proofing your business will also require you to pivot your resources into digital marketing, so you can better introduce to potential customers all your products. Put simply, a good digital marketing campaign in this time of pandemic is a differentiator that will offer your business a way to stand out from your competitors—all of whom are targeting the same audience as you are.
This digital upskilling is also important in recalibrating your store’s ERP system such that it focuses less on supporting sales from your brick-and-mortar stores and more on providing adaptive and flexible back-office solutions. One such solution is product and vendor management platform integrated with ERP, where the platform communicates with the ERP at every stage of the shopping process such that customers are notified in real-time not only if stocks are still available, but also of accurate delivery estimates. This system streamlines everything but will work only if your staff is equipped with the right digital skills.
Indeed, digital is the way to go for retail businesses. But it could at times be overwhelming, which is why you’ll need the right partner to help you out. And, equally important, look to transform your business digitally one step at a time. In doing so, you’ll be pandemic-proofing your retail business and preparing it for the digital future at the same time.
Co-authored by Johanna Graig