The coronavirus crisis: what online retailers need to do now
Companies that have neglected their online channels, or at most provide only product overviews with the option to order, have slim chances. People are looking for a shopping experience, and this currently takes place exclusively online. With smartphones now functioning as sales consultants and assistants, online retailers must be part of the ‘micro-moments’ of potential buyers and offer them a clear benefit. But how exactly does that work?
Insight in brief
- In contrast to the food industry, other industries are currently restricted to online sales only
- The current situation creates an opportunity for many companies to revitalise their online presence and explore new avenues
- To do so, it is essential to establish the technical foundation and define a clear strategy
1. Be there!
Google coined the term micro-moments, which are moments of gathering information, searching and discovering. In micro-moment marketing, the traditional customer journey is divided into hundreds of micro-moments. During these moments, the consumer expects a quick answer and a clear benefit. The decisive moments in retail can usually be assigned to one of three categories:
I-want-to-know-moments: consumers are searching and discovering, but are not yet in buying mode. During these moments, they want helpful information and inspiration for their future decision.
Which-one’s-best-moments: during which-one’s-best-moments, people use their smartphones to compare prices and brands and read product reviews.
I-want-to-buy-it-moments: this is the moment when the consumer decides to make a purchase.
2. Be useful!
Companies need to have an online presence to provide information about their products and services at all times, whether it’s at 2 pm or 4 am. It’s at this exact moment that you need to win customers over and provide them with the information they want. This can be in the form of a product review, video tutorials or the option to buy immediately.
3. Be inspiring!
Consumers want a shopping experience. Companies need to ensure that high-quality images and relevant headings are uploaded to their product feeds. They should aim to create video content with brand authenticity that is both useful and inspiring – and unique. For example, clothing and jewellery brands can inspire their target group by creating tutorials and offering tips. Algorithms can also be used to provide customers with product recommendations. The rule of thumb here is that the more personalised the recommendation is, the more inspired the customer will be – and the higher the sales.
Customers buy when they feel they’ve been well advised. That’s why many still go to brick-and-mortar stores. E-commerce lacks this opportunity for dialogue. However, introducing a live chat feature would be a step towards making the experience more dialogue friendly. Dynamic video presentations could also serve as a good tool to engage with customers on multiple sensory levels, or as an aid to better present and explain technical applications/products.
Now or never...
The current situation creates an opportunity for many companies to revitalise their online presence and explore new avenues, always with the aim of offering customers a seamless and inspiring shopping experience. To do so, it is essential to establish the technical foundation and define a clear strategy:
- Channel strategy: a strong channel strategy shows companies how channels contribute to achieving business goals. Data analytics and customer segmentation provide a clear foundation for decision-making.
- IT strategy: system decisions represent strategic and competitive interests. Investing in expandable technology ensures flexibility and shortens the time to market for new services in the future.
- Customer experience/micro-moments: nowadays, users expect seamless customer journeys and inspiring shopping experiences. Possible solutions must be iteratively analysed in terms of usability and needs before, during and after use to ensure the optimal result in an empirical way.
- Back-end integration: ideally, apps, websites and other channels do not exist in a vacuum since their true benefit arises only when they are integrated in company processes. Sensitive data must also be securely transferred between internal applications and mobile devices.
All things considered, the ultimate goal of the online strategy is to get closer to the customer. This can only succeed if the customer experience is inspiring and the services generate added value for the end customer at the right moment.