On May 27th and 28th 2020 , ESW hosted a webinar with ecommerce leaders from Deloitte Digital and The How Consulting. The topic of the day was ‘Retail is Dead. Long Live Retail! The strategies, tactics and markets that will define success in the Post COVID world’. You can watch the replay here.
Changing customer behaviour
Ron Offir, Managing Director, Deloitte Digital, took the virtual stage first, exploring a framework of considerations for brands and retailers looking to reopen physical stores. He addressed issues such as geographical or governmental constraints, how to look after customers who will have concerns about visiting physical locations in terms of sanitization and social distancing, and how to keep the store channel, its staff and associates safe – both now and into the future.
Ron spoke about changes in customer behavior, how younger customers are less afraid of going back to shopping in-store, perhaps due to their familiarity with the omnichannel experience, how income uncertainty is affecting spending and how COVID-19 is even spurring new types of shopping behaviors due to boredom, fear or other mindsets. He detailed how more shoppers have moved online and how he believes this will continue even after the crisis. He also covered the importance and value of omnichannel – the alignment of online and offline – and how it is predicted to be a fundamental part of the shopping experience moving forward.
Join us on June 17th and 18th for our next webinar ‘Best practice customer centricity in the new retail world’, featuring Martin Newman, The Customer First Group, and Cian Ó Cuinneagáin, ESW.
Learning from China
Xia Feng, founder and CEO of The How Consulting, was next up with a talk focusing on learning from how China’s retail sector responded to the pandemic, given it has been somewhat ahead of the rest of the world in opening up its economy, and learning from what has and hasn’t worked.
Xia began by speaking about how China’s rebounding retail market is due largely to online sales. While retail in April 2020 overall was down 4.6%, YOY online figures show growth of 17.1%. Livestreaming has been an important part of China’s response, with shopping departments, restaurants, and sports brands all utilizing the technology to attract, retain, and sell to customers virtually. In fact, brands in China have successfully empowered their sales staff to leverage social media to the point that 5000 retail employees became influencers offering 200+ live streams a day to an average audience of 15,000. The Chinese government created the Double Five Shanghai Shopping festival – similar to Singles’ Day – which did $2.4 billion sales in the first 24 hours and brought together both bricks and mortar and online stores with Alibaba and other marketplaces creating specific coupons to participate. It used omnichannel to execute with in-store traffic as well as live streaming. Xia believes that engagement is the new frontier for retailers, and that consumer-facing retail innovations are driving business-process digitization. In summation, she said,
Retail is not dead. It’s entering a new age of “digi-tail”.
Geographic diversification is key
Ahmed Naiem, CCO at ESW, was the final panelist, focusing on the sharp increase in growth global ecommerce has seen during the crisis. While there was an initial and dramatic drop off in retail sales as brick and mortar stores were affected by lockdowns and all shopping channels were affected by economic uncertainty, ESW saw growth in April and May that exceeded the traditional peak season shopping times of Black Friday and the Christmas shopping period, a trend Ahmed believes will continue as online shopping is being utilized by new demographics.
He also pointed out that brands that were geographically diversified were recovering more quickly from the initial impact of the pandemic and that ESW has seen order volume growth of 109% YOY in cross-border ecommerce in the first half of May alone. In fact, Mexico saw growth of 258% YOY growth in May with Chile close behind at 242%, and Singapore at 214%. His advice to brands hoping to leverage or improve their growth during this time and beyond in the ‘New Normal’ is to have access to good data which will allow for accurate inventory forecasting and the ability to position the fastest-moving SKUs closer to the customer, to have shorter delivery times on the most popular SKUs, use local acquiring, and support an omnichannel experience.
He drew attention to a trend that ESW has been monitoring, which shows a direct correlation between brands’ recovery in stock price since the outbreak of the pandemic, and the degree to which they are geographically diversified outside their domestic market – a compelling case for an international online strategy.
To find out more about the New Normal for Ecommerce Retailers post-COVID-19, download ‘A New World Order – What Will Ecommerce Look Like After COVID-19?’ or speak to our sales team here.