It’s Safe to Say That the Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 Will Be With Us for Some Time to Come.
For retailers, that means building a strategy that addresses the short-term, mid-term and long-term realities that come with it. First, there’s the matter of inviting consumers back into physical stores while keeping customers and staff safe, while also managing what has been a dramatic spike in online orders.
Next will be launching payments and order flow systems that acknowledge the requirements of PSD2 and the SCA regulations that will be enforced in most of Europe come Dec. 31.
Then comes the job of looking farther ahead into a post-pandemic future that will likely shape the shopping habits of consumers for generations to come. As tricky as it might be to think far ahead when the crisis seems so immediate, those that find the way back to retail success will be those who have taken a long view.
While much remains uncertain, there is a lot that we do know. That provides a solid foundation for building a three-pronged approach that will serve retailers well as they power through the health crisis and look forward to the future of retail.
Navigating the pandemic and post-pandemic world
Short-term steps: Omnichannel is no longer a nice-to-have buzzword. With consumers cautiously returning to brick-andmortar stores, retailers need to provide ways for shoppers to buy in whatever way they feel comfortable. There is no one answer. In fact, there is no one answer even for the same consumer, who might be ready to brave the store one day, but would prefer to shop online the next.
As economies open up, the ability to click and collect will become far more important. Entering the fourth month of the pandemic, the number of click-and-collect orders on Signifyd’s Commerce Network is up 144% since pre-pandemic levels. The increase, which has registered above 300% some weeks, is potentially a sign that shoppers aren’t interested in returning to stores when there are practical alternatives.
Retailers need to ensure inventory visibility and have dedicated systems and staff in place to make click-and-collect seamless. Other consumers will prefer delivery. Merchants who think of their physical stores as warehouses enabling forward deployment of inventory will be at an advantage.
Mid-range work: SCA is upon us. It seems the delays are finished. Yes, in the UK we have another year, but now is the time to act for two reasons. First, unless you want to close yourself off to most of Europe beginning in December, you’ll want to be able to deliver strong customer authentication by the enforcement deadline. Beyond that, it’s an opportunity to fortify your fraud protection with state-of-the-art, machine-learning systems that will provide a better customer experience today and set you up to seamlessly perform SCA tomorrow.
Long-range vision: Though it’s hard to see some days, one day the coronavirus will be contained and the pandemic will end. Retail, of course, will have been changed forever. We’ve already seen that the pandemic has propelled ecommerce adoption years into the future. Four months into the COVID-19 crisis, ecommerce spending was up 85% over pre-pandemic numbers. The figure represents a serious enthusiasm for online shopping even after non-essential stores were open again for business.
The pandemic also attracted a tremendous number of shoppers who had never or rarely shopped online before. Four months into the pandemic, the number of new online shoppers on Signifyd’s Commerce Network was 32% higher than it was in early March. A significant number of those consumers became repeat online shoppers, indicating that they had established a habit that they were likely to continue.
Given that more people are shopping online and those who have always shopped online are buying more there now, retailers want to capture as much of that upside as they can. And they want to capture it for the long-term — benefiting from bigger basket sizes and turning new customers into lifetime customers.
Control what you can: Build a flawless online experience
With so much of the in-store experience out of your hands, you want to capture new customers by building a flawless online experience. Focus on providing intuitive navigation, engaging content, precision personalization, accurate inventory, seamless checkout and instant order confirmation.
Automated systems can help with some of the heavy lifting. AI-powered content management systems, personalization engines and automated inventory management can help with discovery and fulfillment. Fraud and order management systems that instantly sift fraudulent from legitimate transactions and issue automated ship-or-don’t-ship orders eliminate friction at checkout and significantly reduce the chances that legitimate orders are declined.
Moreover, the best in the industry incorporate SCA and the evolving versions of 3D Secure into their solutions, meaning retailers are protected today and prepared for the future.
No question, the past few months have been a whirlwind of efforts that often felt defensive in nature as retailers gauged the threat the coronavirus presented. Now it is time to turn to offense, by making the moves to serve customers now, while doing the work to be in a position to succeed in the future.
Chart representing the change in ecommerce sales from the end of February to the end of May.
|VERTICAL||CUMULATIVE % CHANGE|
|Fashion, Apparel & Luggage||37%|
|Home Goods & Decor||60%|
|Grocery & Household Goods||40%|
|Auto, Parts & Tires||71%|
|Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis||60%|
|Leisure & Outdoor||137%|
|Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements||32%|
|Beauty & Cosmetics||10%|
|Commodities & Collectibles||19%|
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This article was also published in The Retailer, our quarterly online magazine providing thought-leading insights from BRC experts and Associate Members.