Retail Business During the Pandemic

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Our lives have radically changed because of the current outbreak of COVID-19. The main focus of shopping has shifted to essential stuff than luxury & not-so-essential products. Customers have been living without a particular brand or without visiting a website they shopped from regularly. They are realizing that it is possible to live without these products & services which they otherwise thought were “essential” for their survival. That’s a big challenge for marketers. 

How do you keep your communication on with the customers and make sure that they return to your product or service once the lockdown phase is over is the big question facing brands & retailers?

Let’s look at human behaviour first. During such emergency situations, concepts like my favourite brand, a particular vendor or a shop that we visit – gets away from the consumers mind. They only focus on what they get and how easily they could get it. This is actually an opportunity for local stores to win a consumer base as they have helped them with essential stuff when it mattered the most. Even the consumers feel gratified towards such businesses who serve them during such situations. Consumer loyalty is at the peak for such stores and consumers say to their families that – “This shopkeeper or service provider really helped us during such emergency. He is taking a risk with his health to keep his shop and service open and serving us. Let’s not go to big malls after everything returns to normal. Let’s keep shopping from this guy.” Right there, brands and retail stores seemingly lost a customer, right?

Wrong!

Another consumer behaviour pattern is they look for experience while they shop which only malls and retailers provide.

Also, the range of options are very high at such stores. So, the customer is definitely going to come back to these stores. What should the brands and stores do to “keep the bridge” with the consumer? As most of the brands or malls or online stores aren’t able to service their consumers now, they avoid new product communication at this point. It will actually make the consumer feel bad about their situation that they can’t have their favourite stuff right now and will be dissatisfied with the brand who publicized the campaign. 

Instead, brands should engage customers and projects that they are using this time to better their services and look forward to being ready to welcome the consumer in future. Such a reassuring message keeps the consumers brand loyalty intact and they actually look forward to visiting the online shop or malls to check out what’s new at the brand store. The unlock process which has started for last 2 months is also not getting much traction in terms of flow of business. There definitely needs to be reengineering of old processes. 

The same way the businesses were run earlier isn’t going to work now. Consumers are looking to buy in bulk. Surveys have showed that on an average consumer are buying 2x, 3x of the quantities they used to buy before COVID for essential items.

Delayed decision from consumer side is almost nil because of the mentality of waiting for the news of another lockdown in the future. So, these are positive trends for the businesses only if they understand and be prepared for it from supply point of view. Larger quantity shopping and quick decision from consumer will mean a good and steady flow of business which will be beneficial in view of the loss incurred due to the lockdown. 

Consumers will be more sensitive to price and availability of products they need when they make their shopping decisions. Hence websites such as www.truprice.in will create a lot of traction in terms of customer loyalty because it clearly states that products sold on the site will have honest prices. Such online platforms will benefit businesses to go online and fully utilise the power of the Internet. Websites such as www.feelgoodinquarantine.com conduct surveys which provide insights into consumer thought process.

Stay home, stay safe, stay calm. 

Mr Sandip Dhurat

Mr Sandip Dhurat is a BE+MBA qualified business person with 18+ yrs of Corporate Experience. He has authored 9 books on various topics which have been published on Amazon Kindle.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Tilak Chronicle and TTC Media Pvt Ltd.

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