2020 continues to be an extremely turbulent and disruptive time for the retail sector, with ongoing economic and political uncertainties placing online brands under increasing pressure to remain competitive and retain loyal customers. To do so, online brands should be listening to the wants and needs of customers and acting on this information to not only strengthen existing relationships, but also to develop new ones.
Mindfulness and being more conscientious about the way they operate is just one learning that online brands in particular should be adopting this year. From being more mindful about sustainability and the future of our planet, to mindfulness of the omnichannel experience so that it is accessible for all.
Here we discuss three key areas of mindfulness online retailers should be putting into action to thrive in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace:
1. Sustainability across the eCommerce supply chain
With 88% of consumers wanting retailers to help them make a difference, being aware of the implications that retail is having on the environment will be key to retaining loyal customers, and ultimately a successful retail future. In fact, according to recent research, 62% of UK consumers now prefer to buy from companies that are reducing their use of plastics and two thirds want greater transparency in how companies source their materials.To be able to keep up with consumer expectation for sustainability online retailers must continually assess the retail supply chain – from production, to packaging, even through to the method of delivery. Brands can vastly reduce unnecessary waste by minimising inaccuracies and implementing sustainable packaging initiatives.
2. Ensuring the customer journey is accessible for all
Accessibility for those with disabilities across the omnichannel retail experience is an area often overlooked by online retailers. In fact, today less than 10% of businesses have a target plan to access this market.To address this, brands should be assessing the following:
- How easy is the website to use? Could it be used by an individual who suffers from deafness or blindness?
- How are items delivered or returned? Would those with physical impairments find it difficult to return an item via the post or back to the store?
- How could hearing impairments impact the individual’s ability to interact with the brand should the item not arrive on time, or in the right condition?
3. Being considerate of employee wellbeing
Busy periods in retail, particularly over popular peak season events, often require additional hours to keep up with increased customer demand and this can leave employees feeling overworked, stressed and burnt out by the time Christmas comes around. Luckily, there is plenty that online retailers can do to alleviate this pressure and support staff.
The implementation of technologies such as automated cloud-based fulfilment solutions, for example, can save employees time by reducing inefficient manual picking processes and increasing picking productivity and accuracy. In addition, initiatives such as pop-up distribution centres and mall-based fulfilment can help retailers broaden their labour pool without requiring incremental staffing.
In today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape, being more considerate and paying attention to the needs and wants of people – whether that be a customer, or an employee – will be what sets brands apart from the competition, driving retail sales forward.