eCommerce adoption has accelerated by 5 years from COVID-19. In response, brands must accelerate their eCommerce plans by 5 years as well - from partnerships to platforms, innovations to capabilities, everything must evolve. For this week’s Navigating COVID Roundtable Series, hosts Rachel Tipograph (CEO & Founder of MikMak) and Anda Gansca (CEO & Co-Founder of Knotch) invited marketing leaders from brands including IBM, Zillow, Nextdoor, and the Campbell Soup Company to share their evolving marketing strategies. Here’s what they had to say:
Brands must have an “in store feel” with their digital shelf
Online shopping is here to stay, and that means it’s time to be innovative with digital shelves. The New York Times agrees that eCommerce consumer behavior trends have changed, and our panelists don’t see that behavior changing back. For industries like grocery, the challenge is no longer insufficient demand, but how to supply for products that are flying off the digital shelves.
However, just because consumers continue buying online does not mean their purchasing preferences formed in physical aisles disappear. If you are price sensitive in stores, you will be price sensitive online. If you’re part of a retailer loyalty program, this preference will translate to which eRetailer you will choose. The key is for brands to capture these consumer preferences that brick-and-mortar stores could take for granted and replicate that in a targeted way in their eCommerce strategy. Our panelists spoke extensively about creating unique virtual "shopping experiences" as their consumers perused products online. It is clear that there is room for innovation in bringing the “in store feel” to the online platform.
How can you ensure your brand is ready for this long term shift? How can you continue to innovate the shopping experience? No matter what you think tomorrow may look like, you must figure out which metrics you need to pay attention to, and track that now.
Video content is key to capturing consumer interest
Normally, having more people stuck at home would mean more people watching TV. However, with live sports and the Olympics being postponed until next year, TV advertising is taking a hit. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t getting their video fix. With Stay-at-Home policies in place, viewer receptivity to video as a content medium has increased.
Many of our panelists declared that “now is the time for companies to show up.” From real estate to grocery, every industry has faced challenges presented by social distancing. These challenges have also led to creativity. Companies like Zillow started virtual house tours and interactive visitation experiences to help customers feel at home in the buying process. For other marketing teams, this meant looking back at old content to repurpose in new and meaningful ways.
With social media use up since March, many marketers have found influencer marketing as an effective channel to reach niche audiences using video content. Operating as experts in their field, influencers act as content creators that help produce eye-catching media. They are skilled at creating entertaining and informative content viewers are looking for during this time, and formats like recipes and how-to’s are highly effective methods to drive purchase intent. Brands who are looking to leverage influencers as part of their marketing mix should learn how to choose the best influencer partnerships to boost social commerce.
Bridging the social distance
When discussing upcoming months, our panelists described challenges they foresee us facing while in person events are back on the books, but social distancing guidelines remain. “What does an in person event look like now?” One panelist wondered, “Do you serve food? How many people can sit at a table?” We don’t have the answers yet, and there is still much to learn as we move forward.
Certainly, there are learnings that have already proven to be beneficial. For one, we’ve learned how to have increased impactful communication. Companies that have had town halls quarterly in the past may now consider having them on a monthly basis, seeing the positive effect of increased alignment. The challenge of physical distance also helped us question whether we were truly transparent in our communication on our teams. Finally, these times have illuminated the previously intangible but now painstakingly maintained impact of personal connection between colleagues.
Our panelists would love to see these enhanced communication skills continue to serve us even as we return to the office. Regardless of what the “new normal” brings, they will make us better marketers, if not more empathetic human beings to each other.