Julia Sta Romana

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"It’s not surprising consumers shifted to online channels during the peak of COVID-19 as stores were forced to shutter. Looking toward the 2020 holiday season, we see the long-tail impact of the pandemic will continue, with 83% of consumers saying they intend to shop online the same amount or more, even as restrictions ease."

Read the rest of the story: Here's How Retail Can Prepare for a Rocky Holiday Season

What do you think? What steps have you taken to transition to online sales? Do you think we will ever go back to shopping IRL?
 

djbaxter

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From what I've been reading, I think a lot of sectors will permanently go to online, some with no offline outlets. But there are some sectors where this won't work as well and some customers who will still want to go to "the mall".

One of the things that has helped in North America is generous no-questions-asked return policies and efficient return systems that some businesses like Amazon and WalMart have introduced. That makes the risk in buying clothes online much lower, as one example.

Interestingly, some outlets have not improved the online side of their business at all and in some cases it has gotten noticeably worse. In my area, online buying from Best Buy used to be efficient and returns were easy; now neither of those is true. Trying to buy something online at Best Buy recently has been confusing and more often than not I reach an error page and have to start over. Then getting a purchase delivered is the next hurdle and customer service when a package doesn't arrive is just horrendous. Last time I tried that I got a whole bunch of unhelpful information from the Best Buy online customer service representative and in the end none of what she told me turned out to be true.

Another example was an order this summer for two fans from Staples. Again, first hurdle was ordering it without getting an error page. Then they had promised free delivery on all orders and that didn't come through. Then they canceled the order and then a day or two later reinstated it. Delivery took something like 2 months and when it was all finished they sent 4 fans and only charged me for 2. Given all the hassles I went through and the fact that I didn't get the promised free shipping, I didn't even bother to tell them. I just kept the extra two and gave them to my son.

I guess my main point here is that going online is going to be essential for both big business and small business but going online isn't enough. If the online experience is a bad one, customers are just going to take you off the list and move on to the next business on the list. I'm astounded at how poorly some businesses have done in this regard and impressed with how well others have implemented it.
 

Julia Sta Romana

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I agree. And I think for some industries, they'll have a tougher time because it's impossible to replicate online the sensory cues that helps trigger purchase decisions.

The food and restaurant industry for example. Usually the holiday season is a great time for them. People are more willing to try new things and explore. They buy more than what they need. But if you're completely reliant on online marketing, it's going to be hard to get new customers or get old customers to try new things if people can't see or smell your food right away.

I also read somewhere that another negative effect online sales have on the food industry is it limits their menu to items that travel well. Anything that needs to be served really fresh, really hot or really cold won't work when all your customers are delivery or take out only.
 

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