With a continuation of Covid-19 and new political policies on the horizon, we’re likely in for an interesting year. But that doesn’t mean we need to be reactive. In fact, there are many proactive strategies we can take to make 2021 a positive and profitable year. Here are just a few.
Embrace Predictive Analytics
Even though you can’t perfectly predict all the buying habits and consumer behaviors you’ll see this year, you can effectively plan and prepare for the most likely scenarios using predictive analytics.
With predictive analytics, you can use purchase behaviors from the last few years (including consumer spending habits and channel popularity) to see what might occur this year. You can also break down inventory needs by location based on past holiday seasons and quarterly product demand. And you can review your customers’ preferred fulfillment methods to effectively plan and schedule carriers for package deliveries and new inventory purchases.
No matter how you choose to use it, embracing predictive analytics will enable you to make better data-driven decisions.
Use Omnichannel Technology
Consumers are deviating their buying habits. For some, this is due to convenience. But for many, the events of 2020 made alternative shopping methods (specifically online shopping) a necessity.
To keep up with customer expectations for a seamless experience in 2021, retail and eCommerce businesses need to integrate omnichannel solutions into their workflow. The reason being: omnichannel marketing tools, customer support platforms, and order management systems create customer profiles and store customer data from every interaction to make future engagements more personalized and valuable to the customer.
And since this data can be accessed from any company-owned POS system, computer, or mobile device, omnichannel tools can help employees successfully connect and support shoppers before, during, and after a purchase is made.
Settle Into Alternative Fulfillment Methods
While online shopping continues to grow in popularity, customers have adopted a variety of different fulfillment preferences. Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, pick up at the curb (BOPAC) have become staples for those with health concerns and those looking for a convenient shopping option. Meanwhile, younger crowds have continued to gravitate to full-scale delivery services with free shipping options.
Given the trend that continued throughout 2020 and on into January 2021, we will likely see additional solutions for fulfillment take deeper root, including:
- Employee delivery
- Contracted start-ups or freelance delivery drivers for same-day deliveries
- Ship-from-store fulfillment
Take Customer Care Up a Notch
Along with a faster shopping experience, customers are searching for better support. They don’t want to wait on hold for long periods of time. They aren’t interested in hunting around for customer service contact information. And they don’t want to deal with vague or general answers.
To meet customer expectations, retail and eCommerce businesses will need to up their customer care game by providing proactive, personalized care every time a customer comes into contact with their brand. That means delivering relevant information before the customer asks for it -- either by plugging it into your product pages or directing chatbots to pull it from your knowledge center -- and using previous interactions with customers to guide future customer service conversations.
As customer service support is top-of-mind for many customers, finding ways to improve customer care can yield valuable, long-term results for your bottom line.
2021 is already looking to be a unique year for the retail industry. Fortunately, with predictive analytics, omnichannel technology, creative fulfillment methods, and better customer care, any retail or eCommerce business can rise to the occasion.