COVID-19 Crisis: The Digital Solutions for Retail Business
Thursday July 16, 2020,
6 min Read
The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by all businesses around the world. From manufacturing to marketing, 2020 has seen lots of changes in the way business functions in the wake of the deadly virus. No industry is resistant to this worldwide emergency, nor is the retail industry.
The global loss in the retail sector will likely hit $2.1 trillion in 2020 and will take four years to overtake the levels of growth seen before the pandemic. - Forrester
Businesses are unclear about how to manage the quick impact of COVID-19. Leaders are exploring a wide range of interrelated issues that keep their customers safe. The pandemic is helping businesses to adopt a blend of physical and digital ways to start a new era of 'phygital' workspaces.
The Negative Impacts of COVID-19 are Temporary
It's certain that Coronavirus has negatively affected businesses around the world. Markets have been deeply unpredictable, and confusing investors about the crisis.
The U.S. retail sales came down in February, showing that the key driver of the U.S. economy, purchaser spending, has started to slow. Sales decreased by 0.5% from a month earlier in February 2020, after an improved 0.6% increase in January and missing the market expectations of a 0.2% raise.
SOURCE: trading economics.com
Though, businesses believe that the negative effect of COVID-19 will be short-term rather than long-term. Only 28% of respondents are expecting a long-term negative effect while 65% are expecting a transient effect on their business.
Revenue Drop Down in 2020
The negative effect can be on-going and depends upon the idea of the business itself, but, the most evident one would be on the revenues. Businesses are going through major hits right from the beginning of 2020 because of the quick spread of COVID-19. And the revenues are falling due to the direct impact of the outbreak in retail industry.
The severe drop in revenue has a downward impact on the economy as businesses are trying hard to change their business strategies to get ready for the economic downturn.
Long Term Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is an irony to state that the pandemic has affected the way businesses used to operate across various industries. The executives must develop new strategies to get ready for a post COVID-19 world.
To make yourself prepared for the situation is the need of an hour. Businesses are finding ways to coordinate, for example, work-from-home skills, and measures to lessen the negative effects of major pandemics.
Technology Solutions to Drive Business Efficiency and Optimize Cost
Retail brands have been seriously affected by an exposure in customer opinion. The retail brands should follow a holistic approach while making a business plan. They have to explore different areas for cost optimization while reducing the adverse impact of COVID-19 on retail business.
Below given are the various practices and technology solutions that will help retail brands improve business skills and plan better to work in a post COVID world.
Robust eCommerce Management
Businesses set themselves up for digital commerce and grow their operations to many online channels in this crisis. It's significant for organizations to manage stock, sales, orders, returns, deliveries, and so on. Retailers can scale up their eCommerce processes via automation without funding in human capital, helping businesses.
Automation may help do the ideal business productivity by using solutions that can update a single source of inventory. It even helps to manage dispatches, reconciliation, returns, and so on.
Phygital Working Model
As we said above, the pandemic will help businesses to embrace a hybrid of physical and technical methods i.e., a phase of 'phygital' environment. As remote working becomes reality, industries will start putting resources and technology to guarantee run an effective business. Remote working can improve worker efficiency by around 5% and increase employee retention by at least 12% prompting higher benefit.
Services like video conferencing, messaging, and content sharing have experienced amazing results all around the world. While the product will guarantee seamless communication, industries will likewise need to consider the human perspective. It will be important to rebuild the procedures for how communication, socialization, and coordination happens.
Productive Warehouse Operations
Warehouse operations are the foundation of every business. It becomes even more significant in this pandemic condition. Automation in retail can create better situations to manage amenabilities in demand and supply. Industries can embrace warehouse management solutions to streamline daily operations in the warehouse.
A well–defined WMS software supports business revenues. It encourages healthy business relationships with different business partners. For example, sellers, investors, customers, and the internal team by visibility in the entire value chain. The blend of inventory and warehouse management will help in smoothing out the supply chain, resulting in reduced business operation costs and increased customer satisfaction.
Enhanced Customer Service Experience
As brands gear up to restart their activities, it's significant that businesses offer incredible customer experience. With social distancing and remote working turning into a lifestyle, brands will reexamine their customer service strategy. But, it's outlandish for contact centers to work at full limit. With frenzy and amenability increasing among individuals, customer calls are at an all-time high.
To meet the surge in customer queries, businesses can adopt AI-powered solutions like chatbots, smart search, and cognitive routing. Artificial intelligence can give offer automated on-demand service, deliver a communicative experience, and can deal with the same intent as humans. For example, they can understand and satisfy the customer’s needs. As per a study, virtual operators or chatbots can assist businesses to save up to 30 percent.
Customer Focused Marketing
The lockdown has affected a lot on the revenue flow. Retailers should rethink the marketing strategy while focusing on getting the customer back to the brand. To empower targeted marketing, industries can use cloud-based customer analytics solutions. It collects first and third party data for many sources and manages it to show signs of a better understanding of each customer.
It helps in getting a better view of the customer by accumulating and analyzing their loyalty, transaction, and campaign data from conventional and digital channels. Marketers can understand customers’ behavior and create ideal responses for each customer interaction, personalize, and target to improve marketing.
The world is facing COVID-19 pandemic, with no definite endpoint. Business activities over the world have brought us to a virtual halt. Each industry or company, regardless of its size, should look again at their operations strategy and think of a viable business plan in the long run.
During such a crisis, adopting the technology solutions for your customers is the most ideal approach to drive business profitability and Optimize Cost. This will so prompt better customer engagement and customer experience.