The outbreak of Covid-19 had a great impact on every sphere of life. The Coronavirus is indeed a health concern that is and will continue to impact buying patterns and business execution in the coming weeks and months. Since Covid-19 has been hitting the country with its global impacts, it’s for sure the most difficult and the trickiest time for the retail sector as the footfall at stores has dropped in leaps and bounds because people are staying indoors. They are advised about avoiding public places and encouraging social distancing. The government is also coming up with orders of nationwide lockdown. Retailers are also shutting
their stores to prevent further outbreaks. Therefore, e-commerce has become the solution to the problems of so many out there and is seeing an upsurge in traffic. People from affected areas have been talking about the changes in the lifestyle, the opinions and reactions brought about by the Covid-19. It has resulted in many traditional offline stores to launch their collection online-to-offline.
The footfall at the physical retail stores is unendingly decreasing due to Covid-19, following the instructions and guidelines from the government, the stores are shut due to the lockdown and customers are heading towards online purchase more. So certainly, this is an interesting time for e-commerce to boom. Other countries such as Vietnam and Russia have also seen their populations turning to e-commerce more often to shop – with an increase of use measured at 57%, and 27% respectively. Walmart saw a 160% growth because of its’ standalone grocery app called ‘Walmart Grocery’. This could be good news for Internet usage is up 50% in some parts of the world as more aspects of our daily lives have moved online. Post lockdown also, traditional store customers will postpone purchases and the impact of COVID-19 will continue to boost the e-commerce sector as consumers will prefer to shop online.
Because of this pandemic, one needs for short term measures to understand consumer behavior pattern and to ensure business continuity. Liberty is the homegrown brand of the country, being one of the oldest and responsible brands, the brand itself says – “we care about people”, we have been very present at our all digital mediums, interacting with people on their well being, sharing powerful positive information, contributing to mankind’s help during the crisis, throughout the crisis. These attributes add up a lot of stabilizing/reforming the emotional connection between the people and the brand. We have been very natural and responsive as a brand towards society.
So, in this crucial phase, Liberty Shoes is doing what we always skipped with an excuse on “lack of time”, we are improving the UI/UX of our websites to give our browser the best experience, improving on SEOs as the current and coming time will incline more towards the digital dependency, we are setting our foot more firm in the digital domain.
Social media/influencer marketing tools are the mediums we are strengthening more. OOH medium is certainly not at all where we can look at, Cinema ads are again in questions of its survival. Print media used to be one of the most reliable media for us to reach out to the masses, but the challenges are different now and they need to be addressed differently.
Personalized communication with consumers are also taking place, using the CRM database, we are reaching out to our consumers, to know their wellbeing, this will also add up to the main communication strategy at the moment.
Once we re-open, we are all set to establish the trust in customers as far as ‘safety’ is concerned, we are adapting all possible safety measures, which will ensure customer’s and our staff’s safety, and the same is being communicated by the social.
Even if the market re-opens soon, still the crisis would not be over so fast, it is going to take almost a year to come to race. We hope that the situation finds a balance for running the operations efficiently and productively.
Stopping this pandemic may require few steps like repeated shutdowns of the retail outlets which would save lives but would also hit the social well being in terms of lost jobs and livelihoods. Therefore, it’s high time for retailers to adopt adaptive business practices at this crucial stage. So the organization is buckling-up accordingly. We are keeping low on the marketing budget for obvious reasons. We are keeping a tight check on the market, keeping all our marketing tools ready for the year, but to launch any sort of significant marketing activity, we are adapting to wait and watch for the next quarter at least.
* Anupam Bansal, Executive Director Retail, Liberty Shoes