When the pandemic first hit, the panic was the gut reaction across the country. It may feel much longer than two years ago when we crowded into grocery stores for toilet paper and disinfectants. Before we knew it, we were walled off from the friends we love. The luckiest among us were walled in with our families, for better or worse.
The initial fear over the public health crisis quickly turned into a dull, constant worry over the economic effects. How would families make ends meet, or businesses stay afloat? For business owners, COVID restrictions often felt like the kiss of death. Sadly, for many they were.
However, some companies were well positioned to do even better during the pandemic. Amazon and Netflix, for example, had a blockbuster year in 2020. Other companies, big and small, adapted and learned to thrive in the COVID economy.
What was the most significant factor in a company’s success or failure in 2020 and beyond? It came down to how well we reach people online.
Moving Online: Hybrid Service
As we’ve discussed in other post, the world went digital during the pandemic. Some businesses adapted, and some were already positioned to lead. Many failed in the face of what felt like totally incompatible paradigms. How could a bar do business during a lockdown?
Lockdowns are over, but many merchants across industries still feel the pressure, struggling to adapt a physical business model to permanently changed consumer preferences. It’s not that customers no longer want to leave their homes to shop, dine, or enjoy themselves. They just want you to meet them online, to provide them a blended service experience. Hybrid service is the future of enterprise.
If you don’t have a virtual storefront, get one. We can say that confidently with almost no exceptions, no matter what business you’re in. You need an online presence, and a way to serve your customers remotely. Hybrid business models, which blend in-person and virtual service, are the new standard for any industry.
More than a Webpage
Is it just a matter of putting your catalog online, offering free shipping, and sending the occasional promo code? Businesses will do that, and most already have, but to truly get an edge in this new landscape, you need to get creative and combine your offerings.
As a chief strategist at IBM said last year:
“Customers are everywhere, shopping in micro-moments, whether looking through the glass of a storefront or their phones. Retailers need to be there with them… they need to be much more agile to marry digital and physical experiences.”
A hybrid service model, arguably the greatest long-term consequence of the pandemic, is about more than running both your physical location and a virtual storefront. People want seamless integration between their physical experiences, which they still definitely enjoy, and their digital ones, which offer convenience and frequent, fleeting opportunities to woo them throughout the day.
Rather than seeing digital integration as a challenge to overcome, a new expense that you need to take on just to survive, consider the possibility that comes with meeting your customers where they are. You can better connect with them and provide a level of service and engagement never before possible. Empower your customers to browse your catalog or get updated on sales wherever they are. Let them try out a product in-store, order it in a color you don’t have in stock, and track the order online.
Data: The Secret Ingredient in a Healthy Hybrid Model
The hybrid model isn’t about giving your customers two separate ways to shop, it’s about connecting with them whenever they want, and constantly showing them how you can value them. Better understand them by correlating transaction data with what to emphasize in your locations. Do twenty-somethings keep tapping on that product you have pushed to the back of your store? Then it’s time to show it off! If a customer buys in-store, give them a discount on a future online order, or vice versa.
If your margins are hurting in 2022, you’re not alone. Experiment with pricing online or in-store to see if you can pass some of those higher costs to the customer without conversion suffering. With the right analytics, customers will provide you with new insights, from buying preferences to missed product offerings. Combining online and in-store data will give you a much richer understanding of the people you serve.
Restaurant owners: we know you hear hybrid service and really think “constant, expensive, distracting, annoying take-out orders!” We challenge you to think outside the (cardboard) box. Empower your patrons to reserve a table with you online, or sign up for notifications on new promotions and Happy Hours. Let your customer pay for a meal online in advance, so she can smoothly declare “my treat” when he asks for the check.
Hybrid service isn’t about building a second, distinct business model just to keep up. It’s about unlocking the synergy in your offerings, in finding your clients wherever, whenever they want to meet you, and adding more value to your relationship with them.
COCARD Empowers Tomorrow’s Commerce
Today, COCARD is empowering customers through its Revonu lineup, a powerful suite that helps you ensure a seamless POS experience. We offer full POS functionality for in-person and online purchases, as well as attractive customer interfaces and built-in analytics. Our security is best-in-class, and our transaction data provides insights that can change your business from Day One.
Our centralized reporting, analytics, and business management software lets you understand and grow the connection between your physical and digital presence, helping you to better reach customers and provide more efficient service. We’ve researched the industry changes since the pandemic, and have geared our offerings toward leading in hybrid service.
Finding the Path Ahead
COCARD is no stranger to industry upsets. Since our inception, we’ve led the payments space as digital connectivity transformed just about every aspect of how we transact. With each breakthrough in capability and consumer preference, we see only possibility.
Get in touch today to learn about jumpstarting your business by marrying your online and physical presence, and take charge in the Hybrid Era!