4 Ways Retailers Can Respond to COVID-19

by Digital Europe

Posted on 04-08-2020

By Bruce Richards

These are unprece­dent­ed times for the retail industry. Shoppers are prac­tic­ing social dis­tanc­ing and in some cas­es iso­la­tion due to COVID-19. Retailers are tem­porar­i­ly shut­ting their doors out of con­cern for employ­ees and cus­tomers, and local gov­ern­ments are man­dat­ing clo­sures and cur­fews with great uncer­tain­ty as to when all this will end.

A retailer’s ecosys­tem is vast and it’s safe to say every facet is feel­ing the fall­out of this crisis. While it may seem like there’s no such thing as “busi­ness-as-usu­al” in this cli­mate, there are ways for retail­ers to adjust their oper­a­tions, keep cus­tomers and employ­ees hap­py and per­haps set the stage for a new way of work­ing after the worst of the COVID-19 issue has passed.

Be authen­tic

Every one of your cus­tomers is adjust­ing to a new nor­mal. Acknowl­edg­ing that and adjust­ing along with them lets peo­ple know you’re in this with them. Just because your cus­tomers are stuck at home, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to look good, feel good, and eat right. As peo­ple are adjust­ing their lifestyles, self/personal care is top of mind. You nev­er know – web con­tent changes you make now can become best prac­tices in the future.

For fash­ion retail­ers, instead of fea­tur­ing that design­er hand­bag on your home­page, per­haps shift to styl­ish work­out or lounge wear. Think about mer­chan­dis­ing your web­site dif­fer­ent­ly based on lifestyle instead of prod­uct category. Highlight unique or unex­pect­ed prod­uct adja­cen­cies to keep things interesting.

On the beau­ty side, think about fea­tur­ing video how-tos and encour­age cus­tomers to try new prod­ucts and looks that might not be as risky now that she can exper­i­ment in the com­fort of her home with­out hav­ing to rush out to the office.

Gro­cers: focus on healthy meal prepa­ra­tion or how to work with few­er ingredients.

Last­ly, with all of the cur­rent uncer­tain­ty, 30‑, 60- and 90-day return poli­cies aren’t going to cut it. Many peo­ple like to make online returns in store. Encouraging this prac­tice through extend­ed return peri­ods can dri­ve store traf­fic after the cri­sis has passed.

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Be trans­par­ent

Sup­pli­ers and ven­dors are deal­ing with the same issues retail­ers are, so keep abreast of their situations, how their lim­i­ta­tions will affect your business, and com­mu­ni­cate with cus­tomers accordingly. Manufacturing and dis­tri­b­u­tion work­forces may be reduced, which will have a direct impact on your abil­i­ty to meet cus­tomer demand. You like­ly alert cus­tomers when items they’re brows­ing are low-in-stock, now, giv­en the speed with which cer­tain items can disappear, consider adjust­ing the cri­te­ria that trig­ger a low-in-stock notification. When items do sell out, allow cus­tomers to eas­i­ly set up back-in-stock alerts and make sure the updates you pro­vide are time­ly and accu­rate.

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How Adobe Tar­get can help in the cra­zi­est of times…



As more phys­i­cal stores tem­porar­i­ly close, the need for con­tact­less inter­ac­tions and trans­ac­tions has become the imperative. Turn your sales asso­ciates into online “influ­encers” where they can share curat­ed looks and new con­tent with cus­tomers, to keep them engaged and feel­ing like they’re part of your brand com­mu­ni­ty – even though they can’t vis­it your phys­i­cal store. This form of “dig­i­tal clientelling” can work espe­cial­ly well in beau­ty and fash­ion categories.

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Encour­age digital

Not every­one is 100% com­fort­able inter­act­ing in our dig­i­tal world, and in fact, for many retail­ers, non-dig­i­tal users rep­re­sent a large por­tion of their cus­tomer base. Cur­rent con­di­tions will force these cus­tomers to inun­date call cen­tres, so now is the time to help increase dig­i­tal adop­tion with non-dig­i­tal and dig­i­tal users alike.

Make it easy for these shop­pers to engage with you dig­i­tal­ly through edu­ca­tion­al con­tent, such as tuto­ri­als and guides that explain how to use your mobile app or jour­ney through your website. And don’t for­get to let these folks know exact­ly what you’re doing to keep their per­son­al infor­ma­tion safe. Raising com­fort lev­els now can pay huge div­i­dends when the cri­sis is over.

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Topics: Digital Transformation, Customer Experience, Customer Experience Management, Digital Experience, digital marketing, Ecommerce, retail, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA