Every retailer has one thought on their mind- how do you pandemic proof your retail business?
Being in the grip of a pandemic has taught us many lessons, fast. Lock-downs across the globe have resulted in reduced footfall as people concentrate their spending on essentials only.
Many shuttered businesses are wondering daily whether, not when, they might reopen.
Technology is likely to emerge as a superhero in this picture because it is loaded with practical solutions for recession-proofing many retail businesses. Here are five must-have tech investments for retailers to pandemic-proof their retail business.
How to pandemic proof your retail business with technology
Make your website visible with Google Tools
Now is the time to pull out all the stops and help your website shine in Google searches. Several SEO experts suggest that now is the best time to make your site as ‘findable’ as possible because many large businesses have pulled back on their online advertising budgets.
Google Search Console helps you boost your website’s performance in search traffic. It sends you timely alerts so you can fix specific URL issues. It helps you optimize your site’s content, submit sitemaps, and ensure Google has the latest view of your site.
Most importantly, the URL Inspection tool provides detailed crawl, index, and serving information about your pages, directly from the Google index.
Use Social Media To Analyze Trends
Forecasting is foggy during a pandemic – no system can predict accurately what is going to happen and past sales data no longer serves as a good starting point.
Leverage offbeat ideas and tools that help you tap into your audience’s mind space from the one place where they express themselves unfettered: Social media. Doing so can help you reduce purchase costs by focusing your funds and resources where the payoff might be the best.
Facebook’s new “Hot Topics” is a case in point, as is Google Trends. These tools are free to use and allow you to view trending topics on Facebook and Instagram, as well as trending searches on Google, from local to global geographies.
Use retargeted ads to bring back those who have seen your site but haven’t made a purchase yet. While we certainly don’t recommend blowing up your ad budget, use insights from the trends above to show location-specific ads to people.
For example, if Google Trends tells you that more people are looking for lounge clothing in a certain area, you can run Facebook and Instagram ads for that product in those areas alone.
Increase Engagement With Chatbots
In these times, retailers would be well-advised to respond to all customer queries promptly. With the usual customer service system disrupted, chatbots ensure that customers get the information they need, at all times.
In general, conversation with brands has been touted as the future of eCommerce. Retail businesses are likely to be short-staffed at this time.
They can take care of queries for you, disseminating timely information about your products and their availability. A large portion of the customer base today is gravitating to online purchases even for essentials.
Given this, chatbots can help drive conversions and get people to buy even when you’re busy with something else.
Here are some examples of eCommerce chatbots from various industries: they help sell everything from toys to peas, and more if that’s what you want.
Endless Aisle Browsing
Endless aisle is an interactive touchscreen accessible via devices like tablets. It allows your in-store customers to browse and purchase a wide variety of merchandise available, without the need to touch and navigate through physical aisles.
Customers can browse products and view them in great detail: images and specifications are available to compare, filter by various criteria, and add to their shopping cart. It pulls pricing and availability info from the inventory management system linked to it, keeping it up-to-date.
When ready to check out, the customers can enter their names and send their shopping carts to the Point of Sale (POS) via their inventory management system. The cart will be accessible at all in-store checkout terminals or workstations under “pending orders.”
Alternatively, a mobile takeaway option or link to your eCommerce site can also be provided to the customer. With payment integrations, consumers can find products on transactional kiosks and pay directly on their smartphones. Skipping the kiosk in these COVID times is an option, too, with web and mobile apps.
You can follow this up with a no-touch, contactless checkout facility using NFC or wallets for payments.
Go Omnichannel with Primaseller
If you are a business that falls under the “essentials” bracket, you are already recession-proof: up to a point. However, if you are solely footfall-dependent, your reach is limited. The solution is to go omnichannel.
Set up an eCommerce website, Facebook marketplace, or Instagram portal to broaden your digital reach. Adding or tying up with a service to provide zero-contact delivery is a great next step.
The tech-tool of choice we recommend is one we’ve built after speaking to tens of thousands of retailers just like you.
With Primaseller, you can clock incoming and outgoing shipments, track multiple orders, sales, returns, or exchanges in real-time. With the convenient accounts integration feature, your finance reports become automated and error-free.
You can also track, add, and revise your channels of sale in this fluid time. Delight your customers further and be there for them with options like BOPIS, store purchasing, or ordering online.
Which tech solutions are you using?
When the going gets tough, the tough use technology wisely.
We’d love to hear any questions or queries you may have on using these tech tools to pandemic proof your retail business- tell us what you think in the comments below.
Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.