How Personal Channels are Growing in Retail
13 Aug 2020
The year 2020 will be remembered as a period when the world realised that what was once purely theoretical has become a reality today. People can now shop online for virtually any product, and the members of a team in a company can work together even if they are spread out across different locations and across geographies.
The reason for this sudden disruption is none other than CoViD-19 that has resulted in large scale behavioral changes and in the way businesses operate. Not to mention how this is impacting the economy and the polity.
As a result of this, consumer sentiment has also been shifting and businesses are trying to grapple with their changing expectations. It has made companies focus on the customer and putting them right in the heart of their efforts. It has forced companies to go where the customers are by adopting massive digitalization and personalization among others.
For instance, India’s e-commerce business is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27% to reach $99 billion by 2024 according to Goldman Sachs. The report also said that online penetration of retail is expected to reach 10.7% by 2024, versus 4.7% in 2019.
It is seen that customers are now seeking more digital, at-home, and low-touch options today with their need to maintain social distancing.
These have come about from the desire of people to avoid physical contact and do more of contactless shopping. They prefer contactless delivery methods while trying to avoid the crowds.
Many customers now use messaging apps to shop as they have been restricted at home for a long time now.
Now, as social distancing has become mandatory to keep contact between people minimal, apps like Zoom, Google Meet, Jio Meet, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams have helped ensure business continuity. So, the mere click of a button can help people order groceries on Amazon, Big Basket, etc. Even the demographics reluctant to use them have taken to it without much difficulty.
Apps like WhatsApp help people to interact at the personal level, and also shop and use e-wallets like Google Pay and PayTM instead of currency notes. This ensures people do not expose themselves to the virus that may linger on the currency notes.
Even as people are staying home, many of the economic activities like IT/ITeS, creative work, communication-related work have been disrupted much lesser than expected. Thus, office meetings and meetings with clients take place regularly, at a greater frequency now, to discuss business. Star Squared PR which has been at the forefront of online and digital PR found that their retail clients were more than happy to shift to virtual meetings and found that it increased productivity.
Many consumer goods and electronic goods companies now use apps like WhatsApp to service their customers. This move has been ensuring greater personalization.
In fact personalization has been among the top priorities for marketers for some time now.
Not all consumers want to be serviced the same way and the pandemic has only amplified the situation. An interactive model, when communicating with the customers, is now the need of the hour. It’s time for more targeted communication. Communication between consumers and the firms is now two-way, with brands engaging with customers on multiple channels and platforms. Omnichannel therefore is the way forward in achieving personalised communication.
In fact data-driven personalized communications is gaining ground. The 2017 State of Personalization Report indicates that a business can drive a consumer to make an impulse buy through a well-crafted and personalized message. The report also mentions that 49 per cent of consumers who received personalized messages made an impulse purchase. As competition gets more frenzied and as economic uncertainty continues to bear upon us, customer loyalty can help sustain the success of a business.
With CoViD-19 forcing businesses to pivot to an omnichannel model, many brick and mortar stores have shut or suspended their operations. This has become a universal story, across the world. Amazon triggered the shift in the world of book selling in the US last year, and the CoViD-19 has only speeded up the process across geographies and across many other sectors now.
Contactless delivery and social distancing now mandated by healthcare experts is prompting the need to engage with customers in a manner they are comfortable with. Social media is now a norm for most firms to reach out to their customers.
Though personalization makes its presence felt across sectors, it’s the retail sector which has seen the most significant impact. Personalization has been taking many forms, and a Zendesk survey data revealed that customers primarily expect businesses to reach them through their preferred messaging platforms. Businesses need to adapt and change the ways they serve their customers in order to survive during trying times.
While the retail industry has taken a major hit the world over in recent months, it is time for them to put on their thinking caps and look at new ways to engage with their customers. Personalization seems to be a clear winner though considering the growth of social media and the variety of channels that are at their disposal in today’s world.