Omnichannel Experiences Can Help Retailers in the Crisis
One key element of the pandemic for retailers is the need to serve customers in multiple ways, whether through online commerce, curbside pickup, or even a drastically shifted retail experience.
While not every company will see the same level of success, those with the best odds have been strategically building their digital environment with an omnivorous consumer journey in mind.
The big-box home improvement retailer Lowe’s offers an example of what that could look like.
Neelima Sharma, Lowe’s senior vice president of technology, e-commerce, marketing, and merchandising, said that the hardware giant has focused closely on serving customers in whatever way they choose to work with the retailer. She noted the work that the company had done to encourage a cloud-driven omnichannel retail experience came in handy for the COVID-19 uptick — a big shift for a company that hadn’t made technology a priority in the past, she said.
“You know, the fundamental improvements that we’ve made over the last 18 months or so on our technology foundations have allowed us to create new capabilities and meet our customer needs, both online and also in stores,” Sharma said.
The spikes the retailer saw in March, when consumers were focused on acquiring essential goods amid shelter-in-place orders, exceeded the demand it traditionally sees on Black Friday, she said, and the company saw triple-digit growth in sales during the months of April and May.
But the secret to Lowe’s success may be rooted in its decision to invest in technologies such as cloud computing and data personalization in the years immediately before the pandemic, when it sharpened its focus on the consumer journey, aware that people setting out on big home-improvement projects often don’t make a purchase decision using a single platform.
“Our focus is on making sure their journey is seamless, no matter where they are at any point in time,” she said.
A cloud infrastructure that helps bridge the gap for data-rich consumer experiences was long a goal for major retailers. But while many retailers will feel the effects of the COVID-19 crisis differently, those that have prioritized an omnichannel retail experience will face better odds surviving an increasingly uncertain world.