Retail in Asia

In Telligence

How retailers can connect with digital-only customers


In a crisis, the traditional ways of doing business do not always work. Retail businesses around the world are undergoing unprecedented change and, we as consumers can observe first hand the impact of the crisis.  As consumers continue to self-isolate and go all-digital, companies have new opportunities to connect with customers and reimagine their business models. Regardless of your organization’s size, location, or industry, this crisis offers the opportunity for innovation.

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There has been more than a 60% reduction in footfall to Singapore malls post COVID-19. Let’s take a look at best practices for pivoting your retail experiences to digital — and how brands are already tackling traffic challenges head-on. Retailers can no longer rely on tried-and-true physical experiences, this is the time to use your entire workforce to think in new ways about connecting with customers:

Reimagine store teams – If stores are forced to close, consider how teams can help with customer service teams, live chat, managing supply chain or warehousing. This is also an ideal opportunity to  extend your retail team’s expertise on social media. Glossier does this incredibly well for its millions of followers. Its Instagram channel features employees’ make-up routines despite store closures.

Offer a unique service – Guitar manufacturer Fender is extending the joy of its in-store jam sessions by offering three months of guitar lessons for free to the first 100,000 subscribers on its website. This offer allows the company to reach new audiences in an authentic way and provide a special service other retailers cannot replicate.

Create 1:1 experiences –  One example I love: cosmetics company Mecca now offers video styling sessions via FaceTime as the majority of consumers are stuck at home via Mecca Live. You can also live chat, receive daily updates on product news and tips of how to look beautiful if you are working from home for you next video meeting.

Create scale experiences – In late February, Dior live-streamed on Weibo the catwalk show for its 2020 autumn/winter women’s collection in Paris. The live streaming session began with a short behind-the-scenes clip, interviewing designers and models preparing for the show. The campaign attracted over 10m viewers, and over 100m users liked or commented on the campaign’s Weibo posts.

COVID-19 has the potential to cause painful changes to the retail industry, some may last long after the crisis has abated.  However, it has also set the stage for our Trailblazers to innovate, persist, and foster a sense of community with their employees and customers.  Retailers have acted quickly to communicate to their shoppers and enhanced or rebuilt their operations to accommodate changing consumer demands.

For every bad news originating from this pandemic, many of our Trailblazers have responded by introducing new ways to practice retail, get merchandise to customers, and showcase the resiliency of the industry.

We are here to help

In times of crisis, traditional ways of doing business will no longer work. So, let’s work together to establish new and innovative paths to move forward while continuing to respond to changing customer expectations.  At Salesforce we have a responsibility to give back to our communities, and we are using our technology and resources to help in any way we can during the COVID-19 crisis.

Staying connected and responsive to customers, employees, partners, and our extended communities is always important, but absolutely vital right now when COVID-19 details are changing by the hour. Being informed with real-time information can help increase safety and wellness, as well as reduce uncertainty during these uncertain times.

In times of crisis, communication is more important than ever. We want to help you stay connected. We are offering our Social Studio for Social Community Engagement, free for 90 days.  Our social media management solution helps you sentiment, and keep your finger on the pulse of the conversation, easily publish updates to your social networks, and engage your social communities in real-time conversations.
Additionally, during COVID-19, use Quip for free to collaborate with employees and
customers across documents, spreadsheets, and chat, so distributed teams can work
together effectively. Even if you aren’t in the same place, you can stay on the same

Learn more about what Salesforce is going to protect our employees, customers and communities and about Salesforce Care.

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About the author

James Johnson Headshot
James is Director Industry Strategy for Retail at Salesforce. With more than 17 years global retail experience as a practitioner (Michael Hill, Colorado Group and Virgin), a consultant (EY) and technologist (Demandware and Salesforce), he understands the challenges that retailers face and helps retailers meet their customer’s needs by sharing insights, experiences, best practices and stories. Connect with James on LinkedIn.