Due to the current pandemic, the unsolicited lockdown all around the world decapacitated a lot of businesses, particularly brick-and-mortar stores. Several industries are facing havoc in business with a fall in consumer spending.
According to a Forrester 2020 report, global retail sales will continue to decline by an average of 9.6 percent. This will result in a loss of $2.1 trillion. Retailers will require at least four years to recover from this loss.
Brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants are forfeiting customers as local governments have enforced quarantine measures and restricted outdoor trips. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges businesses face today due to COVID-19.
Challenges Faced by Retailers
Essential and Non-essential Goods
COVID-19 caused a distinction among products and services into essential and non-essential categories. Essentially, this distinction permitted all the activities relating to essential goods and services and prohibited all the activities which are specifically “non-essential.” Essential sectors included education, dairy products, FMCG, telecom, and agriculture. Non-essential industries like airlines, hotels, tourism, automobile, and retail took a larger hit. However, they can use digital marketing to sustain brand presence among their audiences.
Recalcitrant towards change
Technology is a boon. But some retailers remained ardent towards traditional methods. Despite the benefits of digitization, many retailers didn’t gravitate towards digital marketing. As a result, they remain unprepared to handle the current crisis.
According to a financial express article,19 to 24 percent of the 75 million Indian SMEs are at the risk of insolvency or extinction due to COVID-19. Going online from offline may seem daunting and complex, but digital marketing makes it easy for lay to enter the market.
High time for luxury brands
Retailers, especially luxury and custom design brand outlets, have shown a lot of resistance in adopting digital channels for business. It was probably to maintain their exclusivity to be available to certain customers only. Consumer behavior has changed tremendously. This change is prevalent across all age groups. Luxury stores are entailing a huge risk if they don’t adapt to the change soon enough.
The National Association of British Markets estimated that 40% of the UK’s traditional physical stores might be shutting down. They can maintain their exclusivity to be available to certain customers with digital marketing services as well. For instance, they can provide virtual tours of products to their customers while maintaining social distancing rules.
Digital marketing is the Answer
Traditional retailers can easily overcome the crisis by building an online presence. Customization of experience will further ease the transition for stores as it will promote customer loyalty and drive revenue.
Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and Magento are playing an important role in this transition. However, initiatives like online advertising, transaction processing, SKUs, and logistics require technical expertise. Partnering with digital marketing agencies can speed up the implementation process.
Here are a few more ways in which digital marketing can ensure the sustainability of brick-and-mortar businesses:
- An easy-to-use, efficient, and robust online interface can push customers faster through the purchase funnel.
- PPC advertising pulls in new buyers who are looking for similar services.
- Social media campaigns can engage with new customers and attract new markets from any corner of the world.
- SEO optimization can optimize websites and content to target customers and draw them to a website.
- Digital marketing enables personalization for every customer at a low-cost. It would have been impossible with traditional marketing.
In short, an omnichannel digital marketing strategy will enable businesses to thrive across every channel. It opens new passages for cash flow and provides control over customer behavior despite physical distances.
Digital Transformation with Digital Marketing Services
COVID significantly accelerated the decline of traditional retailers. It posed as a reality check for retailers with the initiation of lockdown as a control measure by many countries to tame the biohazard. It acted like a filter for fishing out outdated retailers for new-age customers.
According to a Marketing Dive report, the future generation of customers, Gen-Z, enjoys the online experience as much as the retail one.
At such unprecedented times, businesses need to become self-reliant and stop depending on governments for every solution. E-commerce has rapidly gained traction as shopping behavior has shifted to online methods. Digital marketing adopts a flexible approach in terms of transforming business models from offline to online.
Before deducing any digital strategy, a business must be able to answer the following points-
- Customers’ online shopping needs
- Varying demand growth by product categories
- Online business model to cater to customer needs
- Digital capabilities to be developed
- Partners in the digital transformation journey
- Strategies to ensure a competitive advantage
Businesses need to take up smart strategies and use omnichannel marketing to interact with customers. Digital marketing services can encompass the experience of physical stores and online privileges. It offers better returns at a much lower expenditure.
Digitalization is the foundation for the next generation retail landscape. Digital marketing will be the one accelerating growth for traditional retailers until the current challenges subside. It is tough to forecast what holds for the future but digital marketing is here to stay.