A Little Digital Planning Goes a Long Way During COVID-19

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A lot has changed in the 100 years that have passed since February.

We’re all shopping differently than we did back in those pre-COVID-19 days. This massive change in customer behavior means that people are finding your site and accessing your products in different ways than they used to.

Your existing marketing and e-commerce plans are probably getting thrown out the window. At the same time, testing and optimization remain as important as ever. With some of our clients, we’ve seen that recent investments in new digital strategies are paying dividends far beyond what they’d expected.

E-commerce helps businesses serve local customers, stay safe

One of our clients is a regional hardware chain with more than 100 stores. Last year we helped them launch a “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) solution. They had made the important strategic decision that, while they couldn’t compete with giants like Home Depot or Lowes as a pure online seller (shipping products anywhere to consumers), they could still grow their market share by making it easier for customers to find what they need online and pick it up locally.

This shows how strong digital strategies don’t replace the in-store experience, but enhance it, creating a better customer experience and stronger brand. 

Since the coronavirus hit, sales for this hardware chain have gone through the roof. While they certainly didn’t plan their BOPIS solution to coincide with a pandemic, their savvy investment in technology and marketing is what allowed them to see results like this:

Increased demand and adjustments to high value marketing channels has driven 30% of traffic and 40% of revenue over the last seven weeks.

When we started this project, we leveraged Magento to implement a variety of digital enhancements that allow consumers to see real-time store inventory, get items shipped to their nearest store, and then pick them up within hours. None of this was done with a future pandemic in mind, of course, but the functionality has been well-timed for our client.

BOPIS has made it possible for our client to keep their stores operational and their employees healthy. Employees can arrange to have orders waiting outside for customers, so the stores don’t have customers walking around and potentially exposing workers to infection.

The takeaway: Investing in technology and digital marketing can position you for success when unforeseen changes affect customer behavior. Social distancing has led to a major leap in the adoption of digital technologies, and companies who were prepared are seeing substantial benefit. Others will be investing to catch up in the future.

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