COVID-19 struck the world, leaving everyone dazed by its shock and awe. No enterprise, government or system was ready to cope with such an act of God. D2C e-commerce brands were impacted equally. But, as the months pass by, we have come to know better. Individuals, enterprises and businesses of all sizes are realizing the power of online presence and commerce – key factors in ensuring operational continuity amidst crisis scenario.
As the virus continues to shape our physical & digital landscapes, here is what D2C e-commerce brands are doing to bounce back from COVID’s strike.
Embracing 100% Business Digitization
It was the brick and mortar stores that were amongst the worst hit business segments. The viral contagion rendered every possible human contact a threat – so the non-essential stores were forced to shut. Those without any e-commerce integration or digital presence lost entire sales and had to shut down.
Though, e-commerce brands managed to navigate through this crisis with smart adaptation and strategy. Realizing that physical contact and customer communication was off bounds, many D2C brands ramped-up their online operations to cater to the customers. However, merely burning more funds on online campaigns wouldn’t suffice. As seen in the case of companies like Casper and Brandless that lost sales and accumulated losses to the brim of extinction, 100% digitization will require more than just cash.
D2C brands that survived COVID’s first wave and continue to adapt to the ‘new normal’ till date have a few common things in their strategy palette. Consider the following pointers;
- Customer relevance – D2C e-commerce brands that managed to cut through the crisis remained relevant to their customers. That means, they did not make any major changes in their branding, messaging and even product lines. What they did was identify their customers’ pain during the lockdown, and amended their operations accordingly for the new digital landscape.
- E-commerce Operations – This comes without emphasis. Brands that sold majorly through brick and mortar stores, or via direct-sales network rapidly transitioned to branded online stores. They leveraged their existing communication channels to educate their customers about the new online presence and convenience amidst the crisis.
- Consumer Education – educating and instructing the existing customer base about business transition and restructuring came as a challenge for every company. However, successful D2C companies were effective in communicating every plan, digital initiative and change to their existing customers owing to COVID.
Adapting Intelligent E-commerce Automation
Restructuring any enterprise is a herculean task, especially when it is transitioning from offline presence to online within a short time-frame. To make this process as reliable as possible, and ensuring that all the cogs of the retail mechanism work like a well-oiled machine, brands found an effective solution – workflow automation.
E-commerce automation did not emerge as a novelty, rather it emerged as a necessity. This is because automation solutions seemed to solve mission-critical challenges for D2C enterprises.
How did Automation Actually Help D2C Brands Adapt to COVID Aftermath?
E-commerce automation gave the edge to brands in the following aspects;
- No manual repetitions – When businesses are in survival mode, every execution and minute detail matters. Automation replaces manual repetitive tasks for digital retail brands and enhances the reliability of operations. For instance, AI-based marketing and CRM automation tools like Wigzo, sales automation tools like Leadsquared, and accounting automation dashboards like QuickBooks delivered massive value for e-commerce enterprises. They helped D2C brands streamline core digital retail operations strategically with maximum reliability.
- Race for Customer Retention – Wooing customers to a D2C portal was already a cut-throat competition. With COVID, it became even tougher. However, for direct-to-customer retail brands that really put their skin in the game, automation solved for most of the customer acquisition and retention challenges. E.g. Wigzo’s on-site ‘Nudge’ and WhatsApp cart recovery feature helped its e-commerce clients capture new prospects, and automated their purchase journey with personalized communication.
- Reduced Overheads – Many e-commerce brands failed to yield profitability during the first COVID wave a few months ago. Not because they did not know what to do, but because they were tightly strapped for working capital and burned it to maintain unnecessary overheads. Ask any successful D2C brand, and they will likely tell you the significance of cutting costs to make their operations lean – especially when the market is uncertain. Automation achieves this by eliminating the need for manual tasks which otherwise require staffing.
Diversifying Product lineage
Amazon registered a revenue of $75.5 billion during the first quarter of 2020, right when the COVID crisis struck. Before that, in the first quarter of 2019, they had earned $59.7 billion. Why the rise in their e-commerce sales? Well, a rational mind would reason that whatever Amazon sells can be broadly categorized as ‘essential.’ They solve the most critical pain-point of people via their commerce portal. For D2C brands picking themselves back up, this can be translated into a valuable lesson – product diversification.
For instance, a brand that just sells mattresses runs the risk of reduced demand and a sharp plummet in sales. Instead, if they diversified into pillows and bedsheets, they will be easily able to upsell it to their existing customer base. D2C brands with a limited product line must consider diversifying into other lines to increase their profitability and do damage control incurred during the pandemic.
Offering Security, Safety & Trust
This is applicable not just on D2C e-commerce brands, but almost every business in the retail industry. As baffled and scared the companies were, so were their customers. Nobody knew better. And, novel coronavirus still remains a looming threat for people. However, brands and customers have formulated a new foundation for their relationship. It is the benefactor of safety, trust and security that e-commerce brands must offer to their customers to win back their loyalty. For instance, digital retailers are now actively communicating about safe home-deliveries, precautions taken by their employees, sanitization and hygiene systems, and even no-touch handling of products.
As a newly transitioned D2C brand or an already established one looking to make a speedy recovery, such communication will be vital for you.
Right now, we cannot project how long the virus is going to stay. But, the ‘new normal’ is already picking up the pace. As an e-commerce brand, it will be a wise action on your part to understand your customers deeply than ever before – and then craft your online retail operations accordingly. This would include tailoring an omnichannel marketing strategy, optimizing your online commerce portal and backend operations.
As a business, you can never know about unprecedented risks until they manifest. But as the old adage goes – Victory loves preparation.
Want to know more about how you can upscale and skyrocket your existing business in these unpredictable times, reach out to our sales experts at – firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for a free trial now!