Retail doors may be opening, but the experience inside is hardly business as usual. Hand-sanitizer stations, check-out lines with X-marks in 6-foot increments, and store capacity restrictions are the new normal.
These sanitation measures may seem drastic, but with fears surrounding COVID-19, they’re essential adaptations. Even more essential? E-commerce. New research by Mastercard shows U.S. e-commerce sales were up 92.7% in May 2020, with more than $53 billion spent via e-commerce channels between April and May — the height of the pandemic.
While rapid, e-commerce growth is not unexpected. The retail landscape has been moving in this direction for over a decade. In 2007, e-commerce accounted for 5.1% of total retail purchases. By 2019, it reached 16%.
When it comes to e-commerce, content is king
With an almost unfathomable increase in competition, how do brands and retailers stand out with e-commerce? This million-dollar question has a surprisingly simple answer: content. Good content is going to help you define your retail brand and show your core values. Content positions you as an industry expert and provides value to your customers, giving them a reason to come back.
Retailers across industries, including REI, BJ’s and more, are rapidly acclimatizing to this new normal we are currently living in, offering sanitary, zero-contact curbside pickup to help customers feel safe while shopping.
What does curbside pickup have to do with content you say? A lot, actually. Think of curbside pickup as the end of the sales funnel; content is the beginning — and the beginning is arguably the most important part.
With REI, early-stage content includes assets like the REI Co-op Journal’s adventure ideas that subtly mention products. These products happen to feature detailed photos and video within each product page. They have a strategy to help customers visualize themselves with the gear, even when they’re not in store.
Times are tough, but there may be a light
The ever-changing shopping landscape may be daunting to retailers, but partnering with content creators and creative studios can help drive much-needed business to reach consumers in a new ways during these shopping behavior shifts.
Strategies like A/B testing and analyzing the results will help drive success. Gut is one thing, but numbers are another, and understanding what the customer wants will point retailers in the right direction.
Poorly produced content isn’t going to engage your audience. Find creators who understand the customer and the category, while bringing their own creative spin to the mix. At the end of the day, it comes down to quality.
David Gibbons is the director of marketing for Adorama Business Solutions.