Many countries are beginning the slow but careful easing of stay-at-home orders stemming from COVID-19. In response, retail stores are starting to reopen.
However, don’t expect business-as-usual. The in-store shopping experience will be quite different, and some customers may now prefer to shop online. There will be a new normal for retail.
The question is: How do retail brands find success in this new normal?
Cue Clothing Co. — an Australian modern fashion brand — serves as an example of how retailers can accelerate business outcomes in a post-pandemic world by embracing the new normal, and by creating seamless online/offline shopping experiences for true omnichannel customer engagement.
Embrace the New Normal for In-Store Experiences
In-store shopping has always been a high-contact, high-engagement experience — especially for clothing stores. Between trying on clothes, dress tailoring, or shoe fittings, there could be numerous contacts between customer and employee during an engagement.
The contacts need to be reduced to zero.
Cue Clothing Co. has made it a point to provide a healthy, safe shopping experience for customers and staff in their reopened stores. They achieve this by enforcing 1.5 meter distancing, offering hand sanitizer, enacting strict sanitation procedures for dressing rooms, and moving to cashless payments.
“The government has outlined … steps and procedures that we need to take to dramatically reduce any chance of infection,” said Justin Levis, Executive Director for Cue Clothing Co., in a recent interview. “So we’re following them very stringently. And now I am feeling so much more comfortable that we can start to open some stores across the country in a safe manner to allow customers to come back.”
Key Takeaway: Embrace the new in-store experience. Safety comes first. Establish guidelines and enact procedures that will ensure a healthy, enjoyable experience for your customers and your employees as they begin shopping in physical stores.
Create Seamless Shopping Experiences Through Omnichannel Customer Engagement
Even before COVID-19, Cue Clothing Co. took a huge step forward in their marketing by adopting a customer-centric approach that allowed for customer engagement and purchases across all channels — anytime, anywhere.
Online-to-Offline and Offline-to-Online — Made Seamless
Cue Clothing Co. made online and offline completely seamless for customers by integrating their website with the in-store shopping experience. Every potential touchpoint along the customer journey — mobile, website, POS, social, live chat, call center, and more — are connected.
What does this mean?
Seamless Shopping Experiences
Customers can smoothly go from browsing online to receiving personalized in-store recommendations via kiosks. They can buy in-store and receive 1:1 post-purchase follow-ups online. Online and offline become a completely unified (and personalized) experience for the customer.
More Convenience, Better Service, and Better Business Outcomes
Customers can buy online and pick-up orders in-store (or curbside). This service is a growing trend, as it not only delivers a hybrid experience that customers want (for safety and convenience reasons), it also provides the brand with revenue opportunities beyond what in-store or online shopping alone would allow.
Identify Customers In-Store
Over the past few months, many brands have grown their database of customers due to a boom in online shopping. The ability to engage customers, drive them into stores, and — more importantly — identify them, allows the brand to deliver 1:1 personalized experiences, retain more customers, and drive positive business outcomes.
Seamless omnichannel shopping is especially critical post-pandemic. As stores begin to reopen, customers will have differing levels of comfort with how much in-store shopping they want to do, versus the comfort of their home.
In the new normal, the onus will be on the retailer to connect personally with customers wherever and whenever the customer prefers, and in a personalized way. By integrating online and offline, Cue Clothing Co. has created an opportunity for customers to engage with the brand in whichever way is most convenient.
Naturally, retailers will be eager to drive traffic back into stores to recover lost revenue. Again, being able to take advantage of their growing database to drive traffic back into the stores will be key in helping brands improve business results going forward. But to do so requires an omnichannel engagement strategy.
Key Takeaway: By having a unified commerce solution and an omnichannel customer engagement strategy in place, retailers will be better prepared to meet customer expectations post-pandemic, identify more customers, and deliver true 1:1 personalization.
The good news is that stay-at-home orders are being reduced, and stores are beginning to reopen. We’re slowly catching glimpses of what life was like before COVID-19 struck.
But we have to remember: things will never be exactly the same. Shopping has changed, so too have customer expectations. Cue Clothing Co. is an example of a retail brand who understands this, and has taken the right steps to position themselves for success post-pandemic. By being proactive in creating safe in-store shopping experiences, having a unified commerce solution, and embracing an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, brands will be better prepared to accelerate business outcomes in the new normal.