One of the most defining changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the way consumers are interacting with brands. According to the EY Future Consumer Index, 41% of Asia-Pacific consumers surveyed are visiting stores less frequently than they used to before. Even as economies begin to recover and safety measures ease, the use of digital channels to navigate day-to-day activities is expected to stay.
The surge in marketing, sales and service transaction volumes on digital channels has been phenomenal. Notably, hybrid transactions such as “click and collect” — where consumers purchase goods online and pick them up from a physical location — and new ways of selling products and services such as through livestreaming have gained traction. Competitors are shortening the lead time in delivering goods and experiences to 24 hours or less, significantly stretching the supply chain. Consumers increasingly expect the same level of service online or better compared with physical channels. In addition, the boundaries between grocery retail, food delivery services and the online marketplace are increasingly blurring, with a growing number of direct and indirect competitors investing to share the market.
With such complexity of change confronting brands, they must now explore different and innovative ways to meet increasing customer expectations, consumption and spending behavior to build engagement and ultimately secure customers’ trust. In other words, traditional ways to market, sell and serve customers are no longer enough.
While efforts have been made to convert customers from offline to online channels, brands are still uncertain if their sales and marketing strategy can provide a cohesive experience for customers.
Typically, brands still face challenges in the following areas:
- Tailoring customer communications and engagements by individuals instead of segments
- Maintaining competitive pricing without jeopardizing the sales margin
- Converting customers who are browsing products to buyers
- Maintaining consistency of information and policies across all channels
- Achieving a seamless experience handoff between offline and online channels
- Providing flexibility in goods and services delivery
- Balancing inventory availability and goods returned due to product quality