The Central Government has announced unlock phases. Shops are now allowed to open in most parts of the country. People have started stepping out, though cautiously. Gradually, we are learning to live life in this new normal.
However, there is time before we start crowding markets without fear. We are going to be wary of wandering outside. Most of the times, if possible, we would like things to be delivered at home. And this is the new ecosystem in which the retail businesses will now have to operate. It will stay this way because customers will get accustomed to it and will continue with their habits, where convenient, post corona also. Understanding and adapting to this new ecosystem, is what will give retailers their new edge over competition.
The new ecosystem
Customers not visiting shops means that retailers will have to give their customers alternate ways to reach out to them. So, the strategy should be focused on increasing the touch points with the customers, particularly digital ones. It is the ability to continue reinforcing your connection with customers that will make a difference.
Some ideas on how to increase connections with your customers:
1. WhatsApp or Telegram groups: By now, most of the businesses have already started using these groups to get in touch with their customers. Depending on the nature of your business, you can have one group for all your customers or different groups for different areas. Many businesses have also tied up with a person in every society / residential area to run the group and pass on the orders received from customers. SME retailers need to get innovative with the use of these groups as they are the easiest way for their customers to communicate with them.
2. List on platforms like Amazon and Flipkart: There is no explanation needed here. We all know the pros and cons of these platforms. If they suit your business, consider listing your products on these platforms.
3. Tie up with hyper local delivery services like Dunzo: Services like Dunzo pick up goods from your shop and deliver them to your customers. You can list your shop on Dunzo or combine the delivery service of Dunzo with your other digital touch-points. Such services are now there in most of the metro cities. In other places you can keep transnational or part time delivery boys to deliver consolidated orders to areas.
4. Digitize your stores: This is relevant for bigger retailers. They can use AR and VR technologies to give a better virtual experience of stores to customers. There are businesses like Vntana and Radius8 that are helping big retailers to digitise their physical stores and provide an AR/VR shopping experience to their customers. For example, Ikea is letting their consumers virtually place products within their home before buying. This has reportedly led to about a 30 percent increase in their revenues. Further, ideas like virtual personal stylist, individual video-shopping sessions are being tried by bigger businesses to give customers a unique experience.
The above are just a few ideas. I am sure, much more can be done to get connected with your customers. If you have come up with other ways to connect, we will love to know about them and share. Please reply to this email to get in touch with me. In case you want to know about our products for SMEs, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.