How to deliver value to customers online in the wake of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry and economy, bringing businesses from restaurants to retailers to a startling halt in an effort to flatten the curve and protect individuals worldwide. To date, more than 90 major U.S. retailers have temporarily closed stores, and governors of 15 states have ordered the shutdown of bars and restaurants in an effort to prevent the further spread of the virus.
While preventative measures such as these play a critical and necessary role in protecting citizen well-being, they have also had a profound impact on businesses, requiring them to unexpectedly close physical locations and rapidly adjust to a fully-online approach to customer engagement. Along with this shift, consumers have become more wary—uncertain if inventory shortages will prevent purchases from arriving and cautious that food items that enter the home could have been exposed to the virus—demanding businesses offer greater transparency and personalization.
Serving customers during the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic requires businesses to be able to quickly and accurately understand customer intent and serve up personalized offers and information that drive value and build trust. However, customer needs are highly unique, and so retailers and restaurants alike must ensure they can intervene instantly with the right information.
Shifting the focus to 1:1 online engagements
Here, we explore four strategies to optimize the online shopping experience to engage customers and address their immediate needs:
- Real-time inventory checks
With factory shutdowns impacting inventory availability, customers making purchases online want to know if products are in stock, and if not, when they will be available. As such, businesses require real-time insight into warehouse, inventory, and delivery data so they can instantly connect customers to this information. For example, say Mary’s printer broke and she needs a new one for her children to print out their homework assignments. When she logs on to her favorite retailer and adds a printer to her cart, the retailer is able to instantly confirm it is available, stating:
“Your printer is in stock. Select expedited shipping and it will arrive in 2 business days.”
- Contextual delivery information
Customers are increasingly wary of person-to-person interactions and so are relying on delivery options. To meet this demand, popular quick service restaurants and local eateries are leaning on take-out, curbside, and delivery services that adhere to stringent protocols surrounding dine-in services, with QSRs like Chipotle offering free delivery and brand new tamper-evident packaging seals for every order. To convert in-person dining customers to delivery, a QSR could access a customer’s historical purchases and, recognizing that they often order a chicken sandwich for lunch, send a push notification to their mobile device saying:
“Dan, get $1 off your purchase of a chicken sandwich, delivered for free right to your door.”
- Personalized product recommendations
While storefronts may be closed, an intelligent personalization platform allows retailers to serve up relevant product recommendations in real time, maintaining a highly-effective, 1:1 level of engagement. If Joseph regularly shops in-store but begins browsing online more often due to closures, a retailer might serve him a homepage with personalized product recommendations that says:
“Thanks for doing your part and social distancing. We’ve curated a list of products you might like and enjoy 20% off your entire cart.”
- Meaningful related offers
Socially conscious businesses are personalizing offers for the healthcare staff and emergency responders working tirelessly to keep people safe. For instance, Imani is a nurse working at a hospital. When she wakes up for her morning shift, she receives a push notification from her favorite coffee joint that says:
“Imani, we want to thank doctors and nurses for serving us by offering free coffee through the month of April. Tap to redeem.”
Such personalized offers allow businesses to support their local communities and build loyalty for customers.
Keep operations up and running with 1:1 personalized engagement
While COVID-19 has placed the world in a unique and unprecedented situation, it’s more important now than ever to understand customer intent and intervene with timely and relevant offers that fulfill their needs. Customers can leverage intelligent customer engagement to quickly predict needs and intention and present information that is relevant and meaningful. Speak to a member of our team today to learn how a personalization platform can drive greater value for you and your customer.