As organizations around the world continue to make their way through the post-pandemic environment, brands that have been able to adapt quickly are coming out ahead. Whether it’s responding to changing customer behavior, or implementing new ways of working, having the tools to support these efforts is critical.
In eCommerce, this might mean launching a new site in a matter of days and weeks rather than months, or having the flexibility to quickly change content and navigation to fit buyer behavior — all while providing a smooth customer experience across every channel.
And while that might seem like a tall order, it’s not out of reach. Read on to find out how three brands are using ecommerce in innovative ways to meet the volatile needs of today’s consumers and keep their businesses resilient.
Brakes: Adopting a D2C Model in Record Time
Most companies take months, or even years to shift business models. Brakes, a B2B food and beverage supplier based in the UK, did it in seven days. The company, which serves customers like schools, hotels, hospitals and restaurants, was impacted heavily when COVID-19 restrictions forced many of those businesses to close.
“Just as the UK went into lockdown, our normal business customers just stopped,” said Justin Mills, Head of Digital Products for Brakes. That’s when they decided to make the shift to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model.
In only one week, Brakes and their technology partners spun up a new B2C eCommerce site to meet consumer demand and make up for lost revenue. With SAP Commerce Cloud already in place for their business-facing website, Brakes was able to save time and resources by leveraging relevant content from the existing site for use on their consumer site. Brakes now provides 6,000 grocery products to 6.8 million households across the UK through their new site.
For companies looking to quickly launch their own direct-to-consumer ecommerce site, Mills advises: “Be really clear in your mind as to how many functions and capabilities you actually need to get out there in that first iteration, and remember that you can iterate thereafter to fill in the gap.”
American Hotel Register: Making a Swift Recovery by Anticipating Customer Needs
When hotel occupancy dropped from 60 percent to 20 percent in the weeks following the onset of the pandemic, American Hotel Register (AHR) had to act quickly. A global hospitality supplier that provides hotels with everything from bath towels to foodservice equipment, the company was being affected by hotel closures and changes in buying patterns.
Keeping a close eye on customer behavior, they noted that web visits and conversion rates took a steep dive, while onsite searches for essential items like toilet paper and masks were on the rise. By making some simple, yet effective changes to their ecommerce site, they were able to stay relevant with customers and speed up their recovery. Here’s how they did it:
- Adapted to new customer behaviors: American Hotel set aside their original plan in March to promote swim towels on their homepage, and instead featured messaging around being open and operational. And based on customer searches, they prominently displayed essential items like hand sanitizer and disinfectant so visitors could quickly find what they needed.
- Engaged visitors through an information hub: The hospitality supplier realized that what people need most during a global crisis is information. So they transformed their site into a digital information hub with frequent updates on return policies, delivery times, and how they’re preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Addressed the needs of B2C and B2B customers: AHR realized that end consumers were coming to their B2B website in search for essential items. In order to capture this additional demand source, they funneled those visitors to their B2C storefront and adapted the account experience appropriately. As hotels began reopening, they also developed a new B2B web experience featuring custom navigation by hotel area, and their Clean & Safe collection of commercial-strength products to help hotels open up safely.
“Our industry is still facing challenges but is on the path to recovery,” said Alice Sadeghian, Sr. Director, Digital Marketing & Ecommerce for American Hotel. “While properties were still closed, we maintained engagement via a single information hub during a highly fluid time. By anticipating customer needs, we are now seeing website conversion recover swiftly, with a strong response to our Clean & Safe program, surpassing all digital marketing benchmarks.”
Casey’s General Stores: Rapidly Responding to Customer Needs
Casey’s General Stores recently completed a digital transformation that has not only helped the brand better understand and serve their customers, but also become more prepared to quickly handle the challenges brought on by the pandemic. The fourth largest convenience store retailer and fifth largest pizza seller in the United States, the retailer’s flexible ecommerce and mobile commerce platforms have helped them stay open and respond quickly to changes in consumer demand.
For example, Casey’s was able to prioritize no-contact deliveries, launch a curb-side pickup service, partner with a third-party delivery service, and offer a wider range of products online. Their ecommerce platform integrated with their back office systems, enabling them to better handle these shifts and move faster, supported by fulfillment and order management capabilities.
“During the pandemic, we’ve had the ability to think about guests, their wants and needs, and build solutions to meet and exceed those wants and needs,” said Art Sebastian, VP Digital Experience for Casey’s General Stores. “This in turn has helped increase average order value.”
Make Your Own Success Story
Being ready to respond to crisis at a moment’s notice is what sets successful businesses apart. Learn how a flexible ecommerce platform can help you adapt to changing market conditions and deliver relevant customer experiences no matter how the world changes.