Physical travel is on the decline, and more and more people want to get the things they need online. If you’re a business owner who operates an e-commerce shop, then you’ll know that this is especially important for your bottom line.
E-commerce and social media have made it much easier for businesses to engage with customers. These platforms allow companies to have more control over how they interact with consumers, which has benefits for both sides.
However, this doesn’t mean that all physical stores are a thing of the past. Far from it — some brands have managed to integrate online and offline retail, and they’ve made a business out of it.
In the following, we’ll discuss how three notable retail brands have successfully integrated their operations into the digital age. And we’ll cover how you can do the same.
Although CVS Health owns over 600 retail stores, the company originally got its start in pharmaceuticals. Back in 1876, Dr. K.C. Wise co-founded the company after developing a cure for pellagra, a disease that would plague thousands of Americans for years to come.
Over a century later, CVS Health continues to operate as a pharmacy chain, but it also owns numerous minimarts and drugstores across the country. Additionally, the company runs a digital hub that enables patients to find the medicine they need online without having to go to a physical store.
Since CVS Health owns so many different kinds of retail pharmacies, how did they manage to turn things around and make the most of the pandemic?
The answer is multifaceted, but here are some of the things they did.
Expanding Into Other Industries
One of the ways that CVS Health kept up with the times is by adapting to the pandemic. Back in 1876, their main source of revenue was derived from selling tobacco and alcohol. During the pandemic, the company shifted its focus to providing health services for those affected. And since its inception, CVS Health has remained committed to expanding its business beyond the pharmacy industry.
The company opened a veterinary clinic during the height of the pandemic, and they’ve also expanded into providing health insurance, becoming the insurer of choice for a number of companies and institutions in the process.
Even prior to the pandemic, CVS Health was diversifying its revenue source. They realized that pharmaceuticals were not a guarantee for steady revenue, especially considering how expensive healthcare is becoming. So the company shifted its focus to expanding into other industries, acquiring a financial services company in 2018 for $16.7 billion, and later that year, buying a group of hospital pharmacies for $7.2 billion.
Now that they’ve shifted their revenue focus, CVS Health can better weather the pandemic by generating more stable earnings from other industries. The veterinary clinic is also a source of income, particularly as more and more people are turning to the digital world for their pet’s health needs.
Gap Between Online And Offline
As mentioned, more and more people are turning to the internet to get the products and services they need. This has caused a shift in consumer behavior as people are buying online and picking up their goods at a physical store. But since the internet is a digital environment, this also means that there’s a big gap between online and offline retail — until now.
You see, at some point during the pandemic, people will want to pick up a few items to give them a boost during these uncertain times. But since most stores are closed, they’ll have to find a way to make the most of the situation. This has led to interesting situations where brands must adapt to the new normal.
Speaking of interesting situations, Best Buy had to close down all of its stores back in April, and it wasn’t until September that they were able to fully reopen. During that time, the company had to shift its business model and start selling online only. But as a brick and mortar store, Best Buy knew exactly what products they needed to carry in order to entice shoppers into coming back — especially during these tough economic times. After all, there’s nothing more depressing than going to the store to buy something and finding it closed.
Best Buy stocked up on essential items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and detergents, as these are all products that people will want in large quantities during the pandemic. The company also bought large quantities of medical masks, face shields, and gloves to protect its employees and customers. Additionally, Best Buy also set up a makeshift lab in a corner of its store where they could conduct antibody testing for those affected by the pandemic.
Despite the temporary closure of its physical stores, Best Buy remained committed to its customers, and it began offering them special deals and promotions to get them to come back. Many people have also stuck to their favorite brands since closed stores are a thing of the past — if a product is popular, then it obviously means that people want to buy it, regardless of whether the store is open or closed.
The takeaway from this example is that if you’re a brand operating a physical store, it’s imperative to keep up with customer demand — even if online and social media aren’t officially part of your operations yet.
The world is changing, and traditional methods of retail and brands must evolve to stay in business. Going forward, we’ll likely see more and more brands trying to integrate their operations, turning to digital marketing and social media to gain more traction.
In these changing times, it’s impossible to know what the world will look like tomorrow, so brands must continuously evolve to adapt to the new normal — whatever that may be.