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Commerce During the Coronavirus – What Businesses Can Do Now, Next, and for the Future – Part 1

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Times are tough for a lot of retailers right now and we are all being forced, whether we like it or not, to live in the moment as the situation related to the coronavirus shifts hour by hour. Ideally, business strategies put in place are holding out even if details need to be adjusted day by day. However, if your retail business is already suffering and your digital commerce channel is being asked to pick up the slack, now is not the time to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. Now is the time to take a hard look at your digital commerce strategy for the next 18 to 24 months and be ruthless in revamping according to the current situation, leaving plenty of room for agility where there currently might not be.

This three-part series will focus on what digital commerce teams can do to shore up operations and remain effective right now, over the next few months, and in the mid-term future. Obviously, times are tough and every organization has unique challenges, so not everything below might apply, but sometimes the most stressful situations result in the most effective innovations. As your customers have more time at home and online, digital is where they are.

Part 1 – What To Do NOW

Redefine what really matters right now to your customers and to the business. And when I say “Now,” I mean over the next two weeks.

  • Reprioritize any technical and experience debt to ensure customers are able to transact on your digital properties without hesitation or failure.
  • While you’re at it, when is the last time you did a load test? While you might not be expecting a traffic or transaction spike right now, you don’t know what the future holds. Testing to ensure uptime across a variety of scenarios is prudent right now.
  • Reprioritize new features and functions that focus on the basics – driving digital traffic and driving conversion.
  • Look at this weekend’s digital traffic as leading indicators of consumer behavior that will help you prioritize the first two bullets.
  • What products are your customers looking for? Can you merchandise them more effectively?
  • What content are they reading? Can you re-use across communication channels like email and social media?
  • What paths are they taking through your digital properties and where are they spending more time? Less time? Can you use this information to uncover opportunities for personalization?
  • What can internal search trends tell you about what your customers are looking for, but perhaps not finding? This is good information for your product team.

If You Can Still Fulfill

Review your business processes and team structure. Are there new processes needed to fulfill more efficiently? Is there an opportunity to shift and re-skill team members to align with new priorities? Obviously, do team members have what they need to work remotely? (While your team might be digital, the rest of your company may not be. This has caught many retailers by surprise in the past few weeks.)

Have a look at another recent blog post from Perficient.

If You Cannot Currently Fulfill

Now is not the time to go dark on your customers, especially if they have orders pending. Create a task force focused on communicating with customers consistently across channels. Transparency is key here. While most customers will understand you are operating based on many unknowns, they still want to be known to you. Clear communication now will mean loyalty when you come back up.


Wednesday we’ll move on to Part 2 – What To Do NEXT. In the meantime, Perficient is here to help. Reach out to us if you would like more information or guidance on reviewing your digital commerce strategies in the current environment.

Read Part 2 of the series now.

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Kim Williams-Czopek

Kim Williams-Czopek is a Director of Digital Strategy at Perficient. She’s been a senior leader in several digital agencies, digital product companies, and served as VP of Digital on the brand side. She specializes in customer experience, commerce, digital responsibility, and digital business strategies.

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