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Article | April 2, 2020
In the past several weeks, over 100 retailers both legacy and DTC have temporarily shuttered their doors or reduced hours to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. For digitally native brands, which operate few stores relative to more traditional players, the move to operating exclusively online, in theory, should have come with little disruption to business. But that hasn't been the case. Online spending at ThirdLove during the week of March 16 fell 39% week over week, while Poshmark fell 30% and StitchFix fell 9% during that same period, according to Edison Trends data shared with Retail Dive. As a whole, direct-to-consumer brand week-over-week spending fell 7% on average between March 2 and March 22. Comparatively, the average week-over-week increase for these brands from Jan. 6 to March 1 was 1%, according to the data.
In today’s age of digital transformation, retailers have changed the ways in which they interact and engage with consumers — starting with online shopping and e-commerce experience. In order for retail organizations to remain competitive, an omnichannel experience is critical, and with that, retail organizations are relying heavily on websites, mobile apps, online marketplaces, and social media to promote products, sell goods and even provide customer service. As competition to acquire and retain customers continues to increase, many retailers are also expanding their efforts to include social media and digital advertising platforms to enter new markets, generate awareness, and connect with potential customers. However, retailers aren’t the only ones that are targeting the opportunities online and digital platforms offer. Cybercriminals also recognize the opportunities that online platforms represent for retailers, and are seeking to exploit their market share and revenue potential.
“Every consumer wants a different experience when shopping, and this ‘experience‘ has become the differentiating factor for many successful business models.” This statement is even more important for ecommerce businesses, which have no face-to-face interaction with clients. With increasing competition, product quality and price are no longer enough to differentiate your brand. To stand out, you need a well-planned customer engagement strategy so they keep coming back for more. Many studies have highlighted the relationship between sales and customer engagement. According to a PwC report, ecommerce businesses can gain measurable benefits, including greater spending, by changing their customer experience strategy to make them feel appreciated. Higher engagement or personalization also impacts impulse purchases.
With retail stocks hammered in the coronavirus-driven market selloff, should you buy the dip? Some retailers, like Costco, may see upside from the panic. But, there are scores of retailers who could see diminished profits in the near term. Why? Supply shocks, for one. Also, if this crisis causes a recession, expect to see decreased consumer spending. The brick-and-mortar retail sector is already feeling a squeeze thanks to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). In other words, the “retail apocalypse.” This may be a more material factor for smaller, niche retailers. However, even major retailers struggle to stay relevant in the face of e-commerce growth.
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