Source: Äri-IT, spring 2021
Author: Viljar Käärt, consultant at BCS Itera
“What to focus on, and how to proceed?” are the common questions that every merchant asks. Here are a few ideas on how to remain visible to your customers and increase sales.
The retail sector has been shaken up. Uncertainty, closed shopping centres, difficulties in receiving goods from suppliers – these are only some of the concerns. Those who have already invested in online solutions and could quickly direct their customers to other channels, mainly to an online store, are the lucky and successful ones. However, the pandemic is still far from over and we have to live with this new reality. Like it or not, the key is still technology and its smart use.
Dare to invest in e-business solutions.
Statistics and research show that business is largely concentrated online. When shops were closed and people’s movement was restricted, they naturally turned to their computers. One must also not forget that people who saved on travel expenses now have disposable income. Use the following methods to reach it:
- Use marketing to guide customers to your online store: test and try e-mail campaigns, be bold and include influencers, be visible on social media, use targeted marketing.
- Be prepared for a surge in traffic to your online solution. Although last year’s spring already saw some corrections, you cannot rest on your laurels. Make sure that your website loads quickly and with high quality, even with heavy traffic. Otherwise, you already know what happens next – the potential customer types another address into their browser.
- Consider adding virtual reality solutions to your website. These allow the customer to see the product more precisely and try it on virtually to reach a purchase decision faster. Yes, such solutions are expensive to implement, but they are effective and allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Analyse your product portfolio.
Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the things that are sought. A Coresight study shows that in 2020, 7 out of 10 people would rather spend money on products than services. You have to go along with this trend. New categories for making sales and earning profit have emerged. These are mainly goods that can be used at home: workout equipment, household appliances and electronics (particularly for setting up a home office), construction goods, etc. Now is the time to review your product selection.
With relation to products, you should definitely improve the tools that can be used to import new goods into the ERP system and upload them faster. For example, implement a PIM (Product Information Manager) solution, where suppliers can also be involved in the product information enrichment process, or reduce the number of systems used to add information to products. You should aim to centralise product management as much as possible.
Consider contactless solutions for stores.
Based on a survey by Ipsos Retail Tracking, most customers (53%) choose a store that offers contactless solutions for making purchases. This means reviewing the parts of the process that involve a risk of contact and thinking about how to reduce them.
A few aspects to note:
- Contactless customer identification and payment at checkout. These are already very popular, but if your checkout system does not support it as yet, you should definitely look into that.
- Introduce self-service checkouts in stores, which give your customers the opportunity to make contactless purchases without having to wait in line at the checkout, where the risk of contracting something is greater.
- Contactless delivery. This does not only have to apply to online sales. If you have already established a delivery system, also offer it to customers who have come to the store but do not want to wander around and prefer to receive their goods at the information desk, for example.
- Solutions for buying online and receiving goods in store. Analyse whether you could use the following options in your business:
- Click and collect: the goods are handed over in store at the information desk created for this purpose;
- Curbside pickup: the customer drives to the store and an employee brings the goods directly to the car.
Naturally, these can be combined – it is important to clearly inform the customer about the possibilities.
- Special opening hours. This is another way of attracting customers to your store. For example, extend the opening hours on some days – this implies to the customer that there are fewer people in store late at night and they will decide to visit it.
Customers opting for online shopping and the creation of prerequisites for contactless purchases are the new reality that is not going anywhere. The good news is that the spring of last year clearly showed the strength of the retail sector, where solutions were quickly found despite the crisis. BCS Itera offers a complete international retail solution LS Central that is based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central platform. Thanks to its diverse functionality, it is preferred by many brands.