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Jenny Rikelman Bunn - 07.06.2020

The New Normal COVID-19 Digital Adoption is Here to Stay

Tips on How to Stay Relevant with Your Direct-to-Consumer Strategy   
 

Since the onset of COVID-19, perceptions, and concerns are changing as economies open up and people yearn to get back to normal life. However, new consumer behaviors formed during the pandemic are creating a new normal.  


One of the largest behavioral changes accelerating the shift to digital is consumers relying on online channels while social distancing. Brands that have adopted and doubled down on their direct-to-consumer initiatives have seen unprecedented growth.¹ 


U.S. ecommerce sales growth is predicted to surge to 18.0% this year, the highest on record since 2008.²


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Looking at the latter half of 2020 and beyond, companies should invest in their direct-to-consumer strategies with the following strategies in mind: 


Customer Experience 


Remaining consumer-centric is key and companies should focus on improving the customer experience online through communication plans and a digital-first approach. 


Ensure your messaging and communication plans are addressing customer needs and concerns. Be empathetic, genuine, and distribute the content in a way that’s easy to find on your owned channels - like your website, email, and social media. Make sure your marketing and customer service teams are in lockstep with one another to communicate a consistent message across all customer touchpoints. 


Leverage consumer insights. The pandemic has shown, perhaps more than ever, the importance of brands knowing who their customers are. For example, Michigan-based floorcare company Bissell has benefited from leveraging consumer insights to make informed business decisions. When the company launched Tmall, information from the ecommerce platform’s analytics services helped the brand target consumers based on search interests and related shopping behaviors, as opposed to the more conventional age-and-gender approach. Even in out-of-stock situations, the robust product-recommendation algorithm allowed the brand to retain sales by recommending alternative products.³


Contactless Payments


Consumers are embracing contactless payment options, with 40% stating that they are more willing to do business with stores that offer contactless payment options.4  


Contactless payment options include: 

  • Shift to digital commerce 

  • Digital wallet adoption 

  • Buy online, pick up in-store 

  • Pay by phone and deliver 

  • Mobile payment 

  • Smart checkout 


Offering one or more of these payment options will help you serve your customers and address their needs. Consider generational or geographical differences to ensure that you are tailored to all customer's needs, and be cognizant of other payment contact touchpoints such as a keypad entry. 


Blend Digital with Physical 


Consumers want a seamless transition in their commerce journey. Studies show that consumers are hesitant to shop in stores until a vaccine is found and value signals like mask-wearing, gloves, and cleanliness are in place to ease discomfort.4 A hybrid model of in-store and digital will last longer as consumers are ready to get back to brick-and-mortar while remaining cautious. Some ways to integrate digital and in-store experience include: 


  • Offering contactless curbside and in-store pickup and/or return options 

  • Incorporating AR and VR to help consumers visualize products in their living space 

  • Providing virtual consultants or sales representatives to facilitate customer purchases and help answer questions 

  • Creating compelling content like videos to easily communicate your brand messaging and share product how-to, features, benefits, etc. 


The New Normal 


Now more than ever, technology has been interwoven within our lives and commerce. Although the rapid growth of ecommerce over the last few months may not continue at the same pace, the behavioral changes established during the pandemic will likely impact the retail landscape for years to come. 


Sources: 

¹ https://www.roirevolution.com/blog/2020/06/coronavirus-and-ecommerce/

² https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-ecommerce-2020

³ https://www.alizila.com/how-brands-have-embraced-digital-transformation-during-covid-19/

4 Gartner Consumer Pandemic Attitudes and Behaviors Survey