Shopping in COVID Times (e-commerce)

Amongst the panic buys and stockpiling when Covid-19 was first announced, there lies another trend of shopper behaviours that surfaced during the pandemic. Ever since the rise of e-commerce, it has seen a rapid rise over the past few years. In 2014 to 2019 alone, there was an increase of US$ 2199 BILLION in sales. Meaning, in just five years, e-commerce has tripled in value. No wonder Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma are some of the richest people in recent times.  

With lockdowns and disruptions in travel and supply chains, retailers have taken a hit in their sales. The situation has accelerated the shift of offline to online stores by five years. Retailers have been scrambling hard to establish a presence online to stay in touch with shoppers who are more hesitant to go out to shop. 

However, are all retailers able to emulate and provide the same experience to shoppers via online platforms? How are shoppers behaving now that they are “encouraged” to shop online? 

There has been a trend in the retail world called ROPO, which stands for research online, purchase offline. For any brand, this means driving marketing efforts online so that customers will get to know about the product online, research about it and proceed to the nearest store to purchase. Isn’t it curious that even with online stores, people still choose to go to stores and purchase? In an article released by Forbes, people will still continue to flock to physical stores to purchase goods. The reasons are mainly because the customers want to feel the product, try  and experience the brand for themselves. Top e-commerce platforms know it too, Amazon established the Amazon Go store and Alibaba had Hema. It just goes to show that physical stores still have a part to play in this evolving retail landscape. 

So, how does this translate to the pandemic, when people are less likely to visit physical stores due to lockdowns or the fear of interactions? Shoppers will likely be putting some form of expectations towards online retailers to provide the same experience as if the customer was in store. Shoppers would like to have return policies adjusted so that they are able to return goods that do not fit or just don’t meet their expectations when they are physically seeing the product. Shoppers would also want to have impeccable customer service especially for luxury brands, retailers will have to set up chat bots or have a hotline for shoppers to reach out for support. 

Covid has definitely shifted the dynamics in the retail landscape. The online landscape has definitely been accelerated and is set to grow more in the future. Shoppers are looking towards online shopping but some are definitely hoping that online retailers can replicate the shopping experience they would have in stores. When the pandemic blows over, retailers will have to focus on combining the experiences of online and offline shopping. Much like how Amazon Go’s integrated app and Harvey Norman’s click and collect system, it will give shoppers a seamless experience. What will set great retailers apart from the good ones will be the omni-channel approach, where shoppers can be immersed in the same experience, be it shopping online or offline. This is something that retailers should be aiming to achieve in the near future especially with the rise of 5G network.

How to win customers this holiday season?

During this season when there is bound to be heavy traffic into stores, how do you differentiate yourself from other stores such that you will stand out and capture the customer’s attention? The key is to find out what your customers value when buying items from your store. Is it the in-store experience, the opportunity to try out the items or simply looking for delivery options?

Here are some ways in which you can “upgrade” your customers’ experience in your store. 

  • A digital gift box to facilitate hasslefree exchanges and returns

One leading retailer started this idea where shoppers who shop on their website could opt for a digital gift box. This meant that the recipient could either accept, modify or exchange the gift received even without receiving the physical product. 

This allows the recipient to have the ease of returning or exchanging gifts that are not suitable without having to go down to the store. This also reduces the costs for the retailer and keeps the “returned” item pristine for the next purchase. 

  • Experiential retail

A frustrated child equals a frustrated parent. A toy retailer once provided stations for children to try out different toys and let them see demonstrations of how certain toys can be played or used. 

By doing so, the parents are more likely to be clear on which toys their child likes and which are the suitable toys for their ages. Children who follow their parents will be an important sway factor for parents to purchase more items. Thus, the key to having better sales is to allow the kids to convince their parents. 

  • Ship to store

Click and collect serves a few functions. For one, shoppers do not have to wait in line to pay for the product as the transaction is done online. Second, the shopper will get instant gratification compared to having to wait online for the delivery. Lastly, for the store, this can encourage impulse purchases which is something that is hard to do online. 

  • Curbside Pickup

Retailers can also set up pickup points outside the store to facilitate fast pickups and reduce the queues. In this way, customers who purchase online can pick it up faster while avoiding having to wait in line in the store. 

All in all, this holiday season, it is important for stores to stand out from the crowd and offer a unique way of shopping such that shoppers will feel at ease and have a more pleasant time shopping. This will encourage them to return to your store in the future and thus build brand/store loyalty.

Knowing shopper personas to prepare your staff and store to sell more this holiday season

It is important for your store to be ready for the different types of shoppers that will come through your doors. Retailers and marketers know that, knowing your customers is the key to a retailer’s success. 

Consumer behaviour is an important factor to consider when preparing your store for a christmas opening. These are the steps that can help you figure out the shopper personas that will walk through your door. 

  • Figure out your typical buyer

From your existing pool of buyers, figure out the most common personas. How old are they, their gender, where do they live? 

Think about who these people are and their typical buying behaviour in your store.

  • Find out what items they typically buy

Leading to the next point, look at their purchases and figure out the objective of their purchases. Are they buying for themselves or others? Especially during the holiday season, what type of gifts are they getting? For their office gift exchange, for friends, family or partner? Different types of receiver will result in different budget and different product purchases

This will help you see what inventory to stock up and how your staff is able to give sound recommendations. 

  • Bring in online data

If you have an online presence, the data you collected online is also very valuable. The online buying behaviour may be different from in stores. Hence, it is important for you to check on the online data and figure out how to properly promote and structure online purchases. 

The online purchase behaviour can also be an additional info for in store buying behaviour, it can show you what are the typical purchases made together and that might help you figure out which inventory to prioritise when planning your shelves.

Successful retailers know their customers, not only do they know what customers are buying and what they want to purchase but also their behaviours outside of the store, like their hobbies and interests. 

By analysing all that information, they are able to provide stellar customer experience. Stores are aware that the day they stop knowing their customer is the day they lose that customer.

2 ways to increase your brick and mortar store sales this Christmas

During this season where the pandemic is still around, it is a hassle for stores to limit the number of people in the store and in the queue. This may even affect the store’s revenue and sales if the online presence is not strong enough.

How then can you improve on your store’s performance in these times, especially when you want to please your customers, get more sales and still maintain good COVID practices? 

  • Giving shoppers anytime access to goods

Buy online Pickup In Store or BOPIS is something that is up and coming around the world. It is important for shoppers who are not able to head to the shops during the office hours to be able to still browse and pay for the items and pick up the item when it is convenient. 

This allows customers to purchase items online without even stepping in the store mixing and mingling with other shoppers. This arrangement will free up the store to allow other shoppers to enter and it will help the store to not lose sales due to COVID restrictions and impatient customers. 

  • Wider product offerings

Given the store’s limited capacity and limited shelf space, it is hard for all the products to be shown in stores. Having the endless aisle option will open up the ability for customers to view the entire inventory and pick out items either to be shipped to their homes or reserve it for pick up another time. 

This opens up more choices for customers to choose from, while at the same time keeps the number of shoppers low in stores. Endless aisle will also allow staff to have a clearer view on the availability of items. They are able to provide prompt alternatives and offer other options to shoppers when stocks run out, saving time from checking the inventory physically. 

It is definitely a difficult time for retailers during this festive season amidst this pandemic, however it is also an opportunity for retailers to show customers the adaptability and ingenuity of the store and give a positive impression to them.

How do you learn from luxury retailers to up your sales this festive season?

We all know that the luxury retail scene has always set high standards of service. It is with this service that customers experience that keeps them coming back for more. 

How then do you utilize the learning points from luxury retailers to improve your own store’s performance, especially this season where there will be a large amount of shopping to be done. 

Here are three things that you can learn from them:

  • Needs based sales

Marketing always emphasizes on the needs of the customers. It is the need that drives the buying behaviour. Start training your employees to recognise the unspoken needs of the customers. Customers are looking for a cookware set for their parents for Christmas? Train your staff to ask the right questions, what sort of cuisines do they usually cook? Is there a need for a lighter cookware because of the parents’ advanced age? 

Having your staff put together a customised and well thought out list will not only impress the customer, it will also lead the customer to buy more based on the recommendation by your staff. 

  • Personalised service online

Not only do you need good customer service in the stores, the online experience is equally important. 

By having a system that generates sensible and useful suggestions to pair with the items in the basket, it helps trigger customers’ needs that they might not have thought of. This way, it allows you to sell more and at the same time impress your customer with the impeccable service both online and offline. 

  • Integrated system

During the holiday season, there are bound to be stockouts and customers may be frustrated when your staff are unable to help locate the items. Hence, having an integrated system will allow staff to check nearby outlets or even warehouse inventory such that the customer can hop over to another store or purchase it on the spot and wait for the item to be delivered. 

This will aid in the hectic season and maintain customer satisfaction and happiness levels and at the same time, sales will not be lost. 

It is important to learn from the best, and what luxury retailers do best is making customers feel good about purchasing goods even if they are expensive. By translating these strategies to your store, you may look forward to a bump in sales and increase in overall customer satisfaction this holiday season.

This holiday season, move the queues super quick so you can sell more.

The holiday season always brings in waves of shoppers that often results in longer checkout and long queues. This will often turn shoppers off and direct them into your competitors’ store where there are shorter queues and more efficient check out systems. 

So, what can you do to move the queues at lightning speed and potentially sell more and gain more customers? 

  • Have a mobile POS (mPOS) system 

A mPOS system will allow your staff to help customers check out faster and for them to assist with smaller purchases so that the customers can be out the door as soon as possible. 

Having a mPOS system would also mean that you can be registering right outside the store and customers are able to enter and purchase quickly. This allows retailers to engage shoppers in the queue awaiting to enter the store and potentially close sales using the mPOS system. This divide and delight strategy will help ease the crowd significantly and customers will not have to wait too long to pay for their items, keeping them happy and allowing them to have a great impression of your store. 

  • Introduce BOPIS

BOPIS, buy online and pick up in-store. This strategy allows customers to buy and purchase online and hop over to your store to grab the item. They may even be queueing in another store and purchasing your item so that they can grab and go afterwards. 

By doing this, customers will be able to have the instant gratification of getting the item instantly without having to queue for it. 

  • Offer endless aisle 

During the holiday season, it is common to see empty shelves and frustrated shoppers. Staff are unable to restock the shelves in time and that leaves the shoppers frustrated because they made a wasted trip down. 

Hence, having an endless aisle option, allows for the customers in store to view the entire inventory across all your stores and warehouses and pick out the item either to be shipped to their homes or reserve it for pick up another time. This will reduce the number of shoppers queuing up just to ask about the availability of the item and when will the next batch of stocks arrive, significantly reducing the queues in stores.

  • Have an e-commerce presence

All the previous options are all related to the physical store front. What if you have a fully digital option where shoppers are able to shop online and have the goods delivered right to their doorstep? 

In this way, you reduce the number of customers in store and may even potentially have more sales online because the customer is not limited by the number of items they can carry!

How to use loyalty marketing NOW to boost holiday season profits

Many stores are looking at growing their customer base to generate more revenue. More customers equals more revenue, right?

Yes, in some sense that is the truth. However, if you are not retaining your customers and the outflow of customers is equal to, if not larger than the incoming new customers, not only will you not grow your revenue, you might be even losing revenue!

So, what should you do to retain your customer base? Loyalty is the key, here are some ways you can work on your loyalty programmes in the festive season. 

  • Reward all paying customers

You know how some stores require a customer to sign up for a membership or download an app just to redeem rewards? Or there are some that only accept credit cards to issue points. 

It is important that stores pay attention to all customers and try to capture their value as much as possible. 

During this festive season, instead of letting customers go through a lengthy sign up form and potentially lose their interest in signing up for any loyalty programmes, issue a Mobile POS to register them instantly and gain rewards for their purchases, this way the customers might be incentivised to purchase more gifts from your store just to redeem that reward! 

  • Understand how customers want to be rewarded

Some stores offer cash rebates, some offer a little gift or just a priority to an exclusive item. Rewards for loyalty programmes can come in many shapes and forms. However, a little research needs to go into how customers would like to be rewarded for their continued purchases from your store. 

Especially during the festive season, many customers may be looking for cash rebates for their gift purchases. As they are buying in large quantities for gift exchanges for family, colleagues and friends, they might be looking to save so that they can stretch their dollar to buy more gifts. Think about that!

  • Develop personalised loyalty programs

Nothing beats having a personalised loyalty program that shows the customers that they are being valued and taken care of. 

Knowing your customers’ buying behaviour will inadvertently allow you to know what sort of rewards and programmes they are looking for. No one programme will be suitable to all customers. So dig out the data and start to tailor the loyalty system to individuals so that they will be more likely to think of your store when they want to make their next purchase. 

Especially now when they are shopping for themselves or for others, it is a great time to see their buying behaviours and figure out the customer buying journey.

3 ways to help shoppers buy more and buy fast

Shoppers like to browse and take their time shopping, that’s probably during normal days. During the festive seasons, we all know that shoppers just want to get their festive shopping done as soon as possible. Stores are also in a rush to clear as many shoppers as possible so that they can clear their stock and hit the KPIs for the year. 

So how then do we go about speeding up the process? 

Here are three ways to do it:

  • Send gift ideas and personalized offers

Make use of your data collected throughout the year and send your existing customers a curated list of gift ideas and offers.

Not only does this show that your brand cares for its customers, it also reduces the time they need to think about what to shop and spend more time browsing and buying from your shop.

The personalised offer will pique the interest of the customer and the discounts essentially encourage them to buy more!

  • Give them all the options with endless aisle 

Limited shelf space? No problem. With technology nowadays, it is easy to list your entire inventory across stores and at warehouses online. Even with customers that are unfamiliar with your store, you are able to showcase all there is to them in a single screen! 

Staff will be able to approach shoppers and offer them suggestions that are not on the shelves and allow the customers to view the entire inventory and choose from there. Then if the inventory is not in store, the sales associates can order the products for home delivery from the store on the same screen. 

With endless aisle, stores are no longer limited by the shelf space and will be able to offer more to their customers. Shoppers will feel that they are getting more than they expected and this will increase shoppers’ satisfaction. 

  • Help them get out faster with mobile POS (mPOS)

Lastly, all shoppers want, after browsing and getting the stuff they need, is to pay and leave, fast. To enhance the shoppers experience, mPOS systems can be set up for them to do self-checkouts or for shop assistants to process those that have a few items so that shoppers who only have a handful of items can grab and go. 

mPOS also opens up the opportunity for customers to Buy Online and Pickup In Store (BOPIS). This will facilitate the shopping experience more effectively and efficiently, leaving both the shoppers and the store assistants to have a more pleasant festive shopping experience.

3 ways to get your store ready for the holiday season

In this holiday season, even with the pandemic and increased online purchases, there will undoubtedly be increased footfall into stores in preparation for the gift giving season.

Given the covid restrictions, many stores have a limit as to how many customers can be in store at a given time. Hence, there is a need for brands to be ready to tackle frustrations and long lines and potential loss of sales during a supposed peak period.

A recent case where a leading footwear store had its flagship store closed due to the breaching of COVID restrictions during a product launch which drew huge crowds outside the store despite the advisories on crowd management. Nobody wanted this to happen, but it did!

There are a few ways that stores can tackle the basics, and potentially increase customer experience and sales.

  • Get staff trained and ready

In stores, other than the products, staff is important in giving the shopper a pleasant shopping experience. With increased crowds, staff needs to be trained to not only be quick in their service and checkout, but there is a need for them to be good in their product knowledge so that they are able to assist customers promptly. The knowledge will help the store to be more efficient in tending to customers’ queries and improve their shopping experience. This in turn helps to manage the crowd and allows the store to serve more customers in a shorter amount of time, decreasing the wait time for customers waiting to enter the store.

Keeping COVID in mind, the staff needs to be trained to handle social distancing and product handling as per policies set up. Having masks and hand sanitizers handy goes a long way.

  • Think through Point of Sale (POS) workflow and system

The last thing you want is for the checkout to be slow and frustrate the customer enough to leave the queue and not buy anything. Having a faster POS workflow not only reduces wait time but it also allows employees to concentrate on engaging the shopper and potentially sell more through the checkout process.

With an efficient and easy to use POS system, instead of fumbling around with unnecessary checkout processes, employees will  be able to offer recommendations and convince shoppers to purchase other items to complement the customers’ original purchases.

  • Invest in a mobile POS (mPOS) system

Nothing beats being able to purchase items even without even going to the checkout counter and queuing up. Since there will be a line out the door, why not make use of the opportunity to sell items to the people in the queue? Having an mPOS system opens up a lot of opportunities, inventory can be checked on the go, items can be purchased outside the store and it just makes the shopping experience so much better.

Shoppers who just want to grab a small item are able to just purchase it from dedicated counters that have the mPOS system in place. Meaning, shoppers who just want to buy a single item would not have to wait in line and can be in and out of the store faster. This allows the retailer to clear customers faster and maintain a healthy queue and keep shoppers happy.

4 Reasons To Partner With ETP

 REASONS TO PARTNER WITH ETP

  • Omni-channel expertise to widen your resources and capabilities to reach customers

Partnering with Asia’s leading  omni-channel technology provider brings to the table retail solutions and software backed by  domain expertise, as well as experience in strategy, consulting and implementation to improve the bottomline of  your SME and large-sized enterprise-class retailers. So you can widen your range of services and add to your basket of offerings.

  • Your partner should have strengths that complement yours.

We look forward to growing with our channel partners in the business environment. Our proven best practices gained from years of experience has leading retailers in the region put their trust in us.

  • Steady and firm partnership. 

All brands, companies or customers are all now looking to have a nucleus or point of origin to enhance their business processes and combat  their challenges. Our affiliation allows us to meet all ends from a retailer or a customer’s perspective. With the domain expertise that each solutions provider has, joining hands to work closely for better results is the only way forward that the customers will expect from us. 

  • Scalability & Growth Focus . Common Goal.

Partners help us bring  stability to our businesses and fill gaps that might exist in terms of knowledge, implementation and expertise.  Two thinking brains and expertize coming together will land up creating an ecosystem beneficial for all engaged parties: ETP, channel partner and our customers.