Engaging with consumers in challenging times

Image used for illustration purpose

Image used for illustration purpose

Comarch / Handout via Zawya

The ongoing COVID19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and human interactions in many ways. In addition to rearranging how we view social connections, the pandemic has also redefined, how brands interact with their customers, which is critical for any successful business regardless of product, service, or industry.

When COVID19 started to spread and national lockdowns were placed country by country, it became new normal to stay at home for months and communicate with friends, family, and work colleagues through myriad of online applications. While everyone’s personal life has shifted swiftly, the situation was much more complex for in-store vendors that lost large part of their visiting customers, and the long struggle have started. Just a few months into the pandemic, many instore retailers were already on the brink of collapsing, and the difference in sales between non-store retailers' vs. in-store retailers grew to withering 4 times by June 2020. Measures ensuring the safety and health of customer and employees were strongly enforcing retailers to pivot from a physical to a more digital environment.

Companies that had never led their business online faced a serious challenge. Many assumed it was too complicated to move their business online, as they were convinced it would take months to launch an online storefront and provide product information. On top of that major part of the business could not afford specialists to set up and maintain a fully online business. Smaller merchants stood in front of difficult challenge.  

One of the possible saviors comes with the digital marketplace. It is an online space where you can make your grocery, rent a house, buy goods or change your electricity provider at one location but from different merchants.

Most important condition need to be checked for such place to exist, it needs to be simple to use for both consumers and merchants. The popularity of applications like Uber has skyrocketed because they are extremely intuitive while bringing great value to the users. The same goes for merchant place – someone who is not tech-savvy should still be able to use it easily, so within a few clicks, they could set up product online, and application using advanced logic deliver them to their potential customers.

The owner of such digital marketplace platform could be for example a bank – enabling access to all merchants tied with the bank and on the other hand to individual consumers looking for products or services merchants. The offering can be accessible to consumers almost real-time, it extremely crucial for the business in order to be responsive to changing conditions. Digital marketplace provides to both consumers and merchants access to each other, and the bank can receive additional stream for revenue generation and channel to engage with its customers.

Digital marketplace is just the beginning of the process, as after setting up an online presence, the essence is to focus on providing meaningful value to your customers. According to survey done by GlobalWebIndex , 77% of respondents said they wanted advertising to “talk about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday life,” and 75% said it should “inform about [the brand’s] efforts to face the situation.”

To provide better service, we need to understand the customer and their needs, interests, and habits. The platform that integrates data from various sources, such as online ordering, POS systems, and more, can help businesses build customer profiles and provide the customer what they need and when they need it. Creating personalized interaction with a restaurant customer will be more meaningful and remembered. For example, instead of providing a discount on the bill, receiving a free meal invite on the day of their birthday might be much more appreciated.

Knowledge obtained from several touchpoints supports companies in providing deeply personalized engagement, which builds consumer loyalty. Running data analysis will ensure fulfilling their needs and meeting them where they are.

Given that many health-conscious customers avoid in-store visits in pandemic times, retailers could offer their products fully online or for quick pick-up. For others who still look for the in-store experience but might not be aware of business existence - providing location information online and incentives will help gain new customers. For existing customers, welcome back bonuses could be added upon their first visit to shop after a long time. Consumers might be engaged in several ways with the brand, depending on what they need.

As pandemic has drastically altered consumers' shopping behavior, it is crucial for companies to approach it in a new way. To be sure information resonates with customers and targeting is precise, a personalized approach is required that provides relevant content to each of the customers.  Comarch provides a comprehensive, technologically advanced system that allows you to create and execute successful loyalty programs with ease. Supporting both B2C and B2B operators, it utilizes the latest AI & Machine Learning mechanisms to help you identify individual patterns in your clients' behavior and provide offers that are perfectly in line with their preferences.

The system has frequently proven in Banking, SMEs, or retail segments that there are many ways to raise brand awareness. Thanks to its innovative and practical functionalities, building trust with customers has never been easier. The platform can support all areas of loyalty programs, creating smooth operations and enabling operators to collect, manage, and leverage effectively customer data gathered across all touchpoints whilst providing customers with relevant offers and promotions promptly to encourage increased sales and engagement. 

Przemek Bogusz, Sales Director Comarch Financial Services

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