By Phil Pomford
India saw the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak and to contain its impact it took several steps including a nationwide lockdown, social distancing and working from to bring it under control. It would be too obvious to say that COVID-19 has changed the future of business, but the change that it has brought in some sectors, such as retail, is unfathomable. It is quite clear that consumers have continued to shop and spend during the pandemic, however, their spending style has shifted dramatically, with COVID-19 speeding up digitization in retail. It is therefore critical that retailers work towards creating a seamless online experience for their consumers. As retailers rethink their approach to customer service, here are four steps that can help ease the consumers’ journey.
Online payment options
COVID-19 has led to a drastic change in the normal day-to-day pattern of consumers, with most nowprefering low contact and online options. However, it is important to understand that every consumer is different and the entire customer journey, from selecting the product to its payment, should be effortless and simple. Retailers should offer various payment options like digital wallets, credit cards, cash on delivery, pay on delivery, net banking, NEFT, IMPS, UPI, etc. to account for different consumers preferences.
Upgrade Infrastructure to Support Digital Experience
According to a recent report, India leads global real-time payments, processing 41 million real-time transactions per day, more than any other country in the world. This shows that the customers who resisted going online once are now engaging in digital transaction sand it is imperative that retailers upgrade their infrastructure and become more efficient to handle the increasing traffic online. Increased online capabilities will have a long-term impact on consumers’ online shopping experiences, and retailers should continue to analyze and gauge consumer preferences and accordingly chalk up a plan for sales and service.
Take the pulse of the situation to understand what your customer needs and accordingly plan your engagement activity. Communicate any new updates on products or business. Retailers who act quickly and are innovative in their distribution will be in a strong position to help consumers manage the pandemic safely and efficiently. Even when COVID-19 is quelled, the digital medium of doing business will continue to grow its popularity as consumers begin to see its ease and convenience.
Trust will become an important factor. Retailers must continue to focus on building and strengthening consumer confidence to reinforce the value of their products and services. Post-COVID consumers will look back and reflect on how various retailers performed under the immense uncertainty that the pandemic brought. The promises delivered on the product, the quality and service will all be key for consumers and the extraordinary approaches that merchants and retailers take to serve their customers will help them earn their trust.
As the whole world continues to be tested by the pandemic, consumer behavior has changed for good.By following the above steps, customers will benefit from a friendly, and seamless payment experience that will translate to more sales for retailers.
(The author is Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Worldpay from FIS and the views expressed in this article are his own)