Brick & mortars across the country are amidst an unprecedented closure due to the coronavirus. With hundreds of thousands of employees furloughed, companies are facing vast decreases in revenues and are bracing for the impact that coronavirus will have on them. The harsh reality is that some might not make it to the other side. According to Coresight, an estimated 630,000 outlets have already been forced to close and the National Retail Federation estimates that $430 billion in revenues will disappear over the next three months.
During this time of mass social distancing, consumer purchasing behavior is changing rapidly, perhaps permanently, barreling towards e-commerce and abandoning physical spaces for fear of contagion. While Amazon and Nike are seeing historic numbers, other companies are seeing sharp drop in revenue and scrambling to pivot to digital commerce.
It is believed that covid-19 will have long lasting effects on consumer habits. “When a lot of people are self-quarantined or staying in their homes and being in a lot less public places, we’re going to see a shift in behavior,” says Shelley Kohan, founder of Shelmark Consulting. “We’ve talked about how e-commerce is supposed to grow over the next few years, but this is something that’s going to happen in our first quarter and that is going to change behavior in quarters two, three and four.”
Andrew Lipsman described this phenomenon in Kohan’s article for Forbes, calling it a “step-change,” a short-term change in reaction to a specific event that creates a new, higher plateau for a certain behavior. Lipsman continued, “during the holiday, a time with more concentrated buying activity, consumers spend more online, creating a step-change, meaning the consumer may not return to past behavior. We may see this type of similar behavior unfold over the future.”
Businesses big and small must act now to create a solid digital strategy and align their business models to this new normal.
Focus on online sales
If you don’t have a digital strategy, the time to act is now! Even if you already have a fairly sophisticated online presence, prepare to run a large part of your business digitally. Make it easy for customers to purchase your product and services online. Prepare for a low-touch future.
Foster good relationships with your customers
Make sure to communicate with your customers clearly and consistently. Let your customers know you are open for business online. Create rewards and incentives. Use your social media presence to keep your customers up to date and connected.
Retool key processes for virtualization and automation
As more companies start working remotely and with smaller teams, the move to virtual product development and small batch production will accelerate. Use this time effectively to retool your processes and make changes to facilitate remote communication and less on-site staff.
We are here to help
If you are in the apparel space, we can help. We continue to focus on technologies that can support our customers during a period of social distancing and beyond, using tools that reduce the need for in-person contact like virtual product development, design-to-manufacturing accuracy, automation and online commerce.
As you use this time to focus on making your business resilient, we’re here to serve you with technology for a digital future – mass customization, on-demand production and online commerce.
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