When the COVID-19 pandemic initially swept the U.S., many giant retailers skilled substantial provide chain challenges. In consequence, shoppers throughout the nation confronted an absence of entry to important items corresponding to cleansing provides, home goods and even groceries. Small companies (SMBs), nonetheless, noticed the shortage of entry to primary requirements as a possibility to take their retailer on-line and serve clients remotely.
And these actions didn’t go unnoticed. In truth, a nationwide client examine from ShipStation throughout the top of the outbreak revealed that COVID-19 made 62% of surveyed shoppers extra conscious of native manufacturers that they will assist and buy from, and that 55% had already elevated spending with impartial retailers impacted by COVID-19.
Not solely had been SMBs in a position to rise to clients’ heightened expectations, they stepped up and crammed main provide gaps. Small companies now have a window of alternative to transform one-time COVID-19 clients into long-term loyalists, and right here’s how they will achieve this.
Optimizing Omnichannel Processes
With retailer closures and restrictions in sure states for in-person procuring, everybody from the retailer to the provider to the patron needed to shift their expectations and approaches. This resulted in a spike in purchase on-line pickup in retailer (or curbside) fashions for a lot of SMBs – and shoppers at the moment are not prone to wish to relinquish these conveniences.
To be able to proceed to satisfy buyer expectations, SMB retailers might want to consolidate their tech stack and streamline the whole lot from market channels and provider administration to stock administration and automatic post-purchase buyer communications.
Prioritizing Buyer Communications
Previous to the outbreak, one-day and same-day delivery choices had been beginning to turn out to be a typical expectation. Now, this stage of comfort continues to be a hard-to-find luxurious. In truth, our examine discovered that 68% of shoppers have lowered their expectation of supply speeds and 58% say they’ll place much less emphasis on it sooner or later.
So, what do shoppers count on? Communication. A whopping 94% stated they now count on retailers to make info on delivery delays available on their web site. That is a simple approach for SMBs to proceed to make sure transparency and construct belief. This info can embrace the latest modifications in coverage, stock availability and delivery updates. Most significantly, small companies ought to guarantee this info is evident and simply accessible, each previous to checkout and submit buy.
Updating Return Insurance policies
COVID-19 not solely created delivery challenges on the SMB facet, however it additionally considerably impacted returns processes. As storefronts had been compelled to shut or cut back their hours, and a larger demand on the availability chain resulted in delays, many shoppers wanted extra time to finish returns.
What’s extra, clients had been hesitant to make returns in shops or at a submit workplace, whilst storefronts started to reopen. SMBs can remedy for this drawback by offering clients with info on returns processes of their preliminary order affirmation with the intention to cut back friction. This will embrace info on reusable packaging, customer-initiated returns portals and different handy choices. That is a simple repair that small companies can implement which is crucial in constructing buyer loyalty and repeat enterprise.
Most of all, the examine confirmed that the advantages of supporting small companies prolong far past the disaster itself. As 74% of shoppers report plans to assist extra native and impartial manufacturers sooner or later, we’ll see SMBs proceed to persevere, adapt and are available out on the opposite facet stronger than ever.
Krish Iyer is Head of Business Relations and Strategic Partnerships for ShipStation