As of 3 November, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide has exceeded 4.69 million, and the death toll has exceeded 1.21 million. To prevent its spread, everyone has tried to avoid shopping in malls and town areas. The retail industry entered into hibernation. Shopping crowds and sales have since plummeted.

As people chose to stay at home, the demand for express delivery and online shopping increased. Huge business opportunities transferred from physical stores to online. Alibaba, JD.com as well as Taiwan’s PChome and Momo have benefited from this wave. This current situation is the right time for e-commerce venture and growth.

While physical stores’ sales performance suffered from the pandemic, brands that operate e-commerce webstore + physical stores continued to grow strongly in the first part of the year, with double-digit growth on average.

In other words, whether a brand is selling beauty care, clothing, shoes and bags, or groceries, having its own official webstore is a “risk-proof strategy” for business growth. When external factors such as the pandemic change the norm, customers who originally visited physical stores will switch to spend online. By engaging with the online community, brands can drive people who are now spending more time scrolling their phones, while social distancing at home, to purchase from their webstore.

Undergoing digital transformation in the time of pandemic

This large-scale pandemic is not the first of our era. In 2003, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) hit Asian economies severely, and Taiwan’s GDP shrank by a quarter. However, in this time of force majeure, crisis can be turned into an opportunity by grasping the trend and standing firm. After all, 2003 was the year of the rapid rise of Alibaba and the year of Taobao’s establishment.

Clearly, the retail industry should think about the next possibility of their brands as the sales of physical stores and the walk-in crowd dwindle.

Opportunity 1: Switching physical crowd into online traffic; Online channel as a brand’s communication avenue

As an effect of the pandemic, people are increasingly making online purchases. Unlike the beginning sales spike on face mask, hand sanitizer and healthcare products, people are also purchasing FMCG, daily-use items, entertainment services, and even fresh groceries online. This spike in online traffic is generating significant conversion to many brands that have online presence.

It is also important for brands to own their official webstore to publish the latest news and to promote marketing campaigns. Online growth will compensate for the impact of the decline in physical crowds. For retail brands who do not have their own online channels, the physical store will have low efficiency by continuing to rely on traditional marketing methods and physical walk-in.

Opportunity 2: Making use of online member data; Initiating repeat purchases

The focus shift from physical stores to its official webstores, and the effort to drive offline crowds into online traffic, are not merely about sales performance. Behind-the-scene, the membership data collected can be the actual asset treasured by brand owners.

Harvard Business Review pointed out that the cost of retaining an old customer is 1/5 of the cost of acquiring a new customer. Other studies have shown 60% of new customers are recommended by regular customers. Therefore, it is necessary to manage and retain members properly. By running an official webstore with CRM features and versatile reports derived from sales and member data, brands can have a clear overview to plan their business strategy.

Opportunity 3: Seamless shopping experience; Mobile APP strengthens digital transformation

Brands that can achieve a seamless OMO integration of offline and online channels will not be restricted by physical locations and business operating hours. Consumers can shop online anytime at their fingertips.

Moving a retail business online is no longer a yes or no question, but how to choose the right solution. One thing brands can pay attention to, is the digital transformation of “mobile first” strategy. According to the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC) survey, 64.9% of Taiwanese netizens have used smartphones or tablets to make online purchases, and each person has 3 shopping apps on average. With the advantage of having a shopping APP in addition to a webstore, a brand’s potential increases considerably. Members who download the APP are usually loyal members with higher spending power, repeat purchase rate and average order value (AOV) compared with customers who spend only on the official webstore.

Conclusion

While external factors are challenging, consumer habits are also changing. 91APP provides a comprehensive omnichannel retail solution, from official webstore to native mobile apps, payment gateway and logistic integration, rich marketing mechanisms, and membership sales data consolidation. It comprises WEB X APP X OMO integrated features that can help brand retailers reduce the pain points in the process of digital transformation. 91APP has successfully assisted many international brands, SMEs and new businesses to achieve OMO (online merge offline) integration. We look forward to help accelerate your brand’s digital transformation. Contact our business development consultant here.