The retail industry was massively disrupted with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As fears arose around shopping in-person, and options were limited as many stores temporary, and later permanent, closures, consumers had no choice but to adopt e-commerce channels to make online purchases for everything from groceries and cleaning supplies to toiletries, home office supplies, and clothing.
During a recent webinar presented by the Women In Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC), several prominent retail industry leaders shared their insights about the pandemic’s impact on e-commerce as it relates to retail. Not only did they present on the pandemic’s influence on their 2020 business operations but, more importantly, they spoke at length about how the pandemic will affect business moving forward.
Here are some of the key takeaways.
According to Ellen Kresky, Global Creative Director of Ben & Jerry’s, now more than ever, people need and seek comfort. Things that bring them joy. And now more than ever, businesses and brands need to function with an “attitude of gratitude,” as it relates to both their customers and employees. Open communication, vulnerability, and delivering on your promises are more valued than ever before. Companies can no longer function successfully by solely focusing on their product offerings; while delivering the highest quality products is still of paramount importance, consumers crave a human touch and seek to do business with brands who display care and concern for both their well-being and seek to improve society at large.
Debbie Propst, Retail President at Herman Miller, adds that customers are balancing their purchase decisions and weighing where to allocate their discretionary spending. Many opting for products that bring comfort to either their homes, home offices, or personal wellbeing (a la health and wellness). Consumers not only seek a great customer experience from initial touch point to final delivery but also look to partner with brands who display good corporate citizenship.
Aaron Sananders, Co-Founder and CEO, UNTUCKIt, stressed the importance of taking a digital first approach in order to meet the needs of today’s selective consumers. As more and more people have adopted online shopping for everything from essentials and groceries to clothing, home goods, and comfort items, maintaining a strong digital presence and delivering a positive user experience is paramount to attracting and retaining customers. This not only includes being visible on the first search page but also bolstering your website to include good visuals, clear product descriptions, direct tools and instructions, and value add content that keeps consumers coming back. By improving such online tools and bolstering your online presence, companies make it easier for customers to order your products and attract potential new customers and business partners. UNTUCKIt went as far as creating an enhanced fit finder to help replace in-store fittings.
Lastly, Heidi Zak, Co-Founder and CEO of Third Love, emphasized that consumers have acclimated to online buying and show no signs of stopping! Echoing many of the points made by the other panelists, she stressed that the pandemic has not only forever changed consumer behavior but also revealed that consumers truly seek to support small business. In this spirit, she argued the importance of small business supporting one another and shared how her company established a new program, “The TL Effect,” to help empower and mentor women of color as they launch their own brands. As part of this program, Third Love not only offers direct mentorships and provides comprehensive training, but also promotes their brands and products on the Third Love website, selling their products alongside Third Love’s products. Heidi Zak argued the need to be inspiring, to inspire your customers, empower them, and support them.
What does this mean for your business? To remain successful in 2021 and position your brand for continued success, it’s imperative to adjust your strategy to meet the demands of the marketplace and address the desires of today’s savvy consumers. In short, to be successful….
We wish all the success in 2021 and look forward to growing alongside you!
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