We recently launched our UK Retail Trends report, Direct and with Purpose, which highlights how important it is for retail brands to adapt their communications to address the economic impact on consumers caused by Covid-19. The report states that adapting to the changing landscape “is not optional [for retailers]; it is essential for survival.”

With Q4 on the horizon, the pressure is on for retailers to make up for what has been lost in recent months. So, what does the pressure the pandemic has put on retailers mean for B2B companies working in digital commerce? How can they best communicate with retailers to highlight the power of their technology during this crucial period? 

Take an audience first approach

The priorities for retailers’ end customers have completely changed this year and Christmas 2020 is likely to be unique. B2B brands need to address retailers’ new needs this Q4 and should plan with this front of mind. By thinking ‘audience first’, digital commerce brands can ensure their strategy focuses on what is most important to retailers right now.

For example, with pressure to capitalise on the fact that more consumers are shopping online, digital commerce brands must demonstrate how their technology can enable growth. In August Yotpo raised $75M (series E) for its e-commerce marketing cloud. The company started as an app in Shopify’s App Store, providing tools to Shopify customers to help with customer engagement by way of user-generated content. It now has 500 additional strategic partners, including Salesforce, Adobe, BigCommerce and others. Yotpo’s CEO describes the company in relation to Shopify; “Just as Shopify manages your business, we manage your customers end to end”. He believes Yotpo’s e-commerce-specific approach stands apart because it addresses issues unique to direct to consumer and other ecommerce companies. Sharing how your company can support retailers with fast innovation aligned to their customers’ behaviours at this time will resonate with retailers needing to plan their Q4 strategy and grow.

Be a source of trusted insight 

Many B2C brands are struggling to plan ahead and predict Q4 (let alone 2021!) due to the uncertainty caused. B2B brands can use their networks to position themselves a source of expert insight and guide retailers in their planning. Sharing recommendations based on consumer behaviours positions your company as a thought leader.

For example, Adobe’s Digital Economic Index report shows Americans have now spent $435bn online since the start of the year. Adobe’s analysis was compiled using anonymised transaction data from 80 of the top 100 online retailers so this provides an interesting picture for the industry. Similarly, Springboard’s regular data insights on high street footfall show credible expertise on the recovery of brick and mortar retail. 

Demonstrate purpose and empathy

During the pandemic people have realised what’s most important to them. Caring for our health, supporting local businesses and shopping responsibly is even more highly valued now. Marketplaces such as Etsy and eBay leaned into this, highlighting how they could support business owners moving online to keep selling as consumers turned from bricks to clicks. Etsy launched its Stand with Small campaign where consumers can meet with small business owners and discover what’s happening behind the scenes.

eBay went even further and offered some relief to retailers. During lockdown as retailers faced more challenges, eBay announced it would extend its free ‘online shop window’ until 31 July 2020, despite some easing of lockdown rules. It meant new businesses registering on the platform would continue to pay zero fees to list or sell until this date. In August, eBay also told sellers it would absorb the costs of the UK’s 2% digital services tax (DST), assuring users that fees will not increase to offset the levy, unlike Amazon. By focusing on how they could empower retail businesses and support them at this time eBay presented itself as a responsible partner.

Ultimately, B2B brands need to understand the pressures on their audience and use this information to help them prepare for future shocks too. By doing this, digital commerce players can build a communications approach that taps into the emotional needs of their target audiences and position themselves as a leading partner. Being seen as a brand that can help retailers through this challenging time is a powerful way to drive interest in their technology solutions.  

For further insights, you can download our retail report here

We’re planning a roundtable to take this discussion further and we’d love experts to join us. If this sounds of interest, please reach out to Brittany Atkins at brittany.atkins@hotwireglobal.com to register interest.