Since the very start of 2020, China has been the epicentre for the Coronavirus pandemic, with news outlets from all over the world looking to how they handled the virus itself – as well as the additional challenges. As the nation starts to resume a more ‘normal’ way of life, what can the international industry learn from China’s retail bounce-back as we remain in lockdown?
When the outbreak accelerated, China needed to think strategically on how they could diversify and capitalise on social touchpoints. Making sure a ‘personal network’ was maintained enabled a greater influence of purchase decisions, which brands could leverage to drive sales through social channels. Platforms such as WeChat saw a rise in increased income through peer-to-peer selling thanks to mini-programmes and financial incentives. This also helped to inspire customers to return to in-store visits by introducing user points to unlock coupons and new store features.
This leads into the general COVID-19 notion of being ‘better together’ something the Chinese market already utilised as a key strategy for both brands and retailers. Each can look to innovative group mechanisms that work alongside consumer social circles to encourage purchases. It’s no surprise that social media is now a large product search engine, but brands need to have obviously positive reviews online in order to have that purchase influence. In relation to the last few months, this has led to consumers being able to shop a feed (particularly from livestreaming) and enhancing on community-driven content.
The question now – for both China and the rest of the world – is bridging the gap between online and the physical store. There are certainly lessons to be learnt from the continued Chinese retail success, particularly to place emphasis on putting people at the centre of the ‘journey’ when redesigning the social commerce side of your brand. From social networks to loyalty schemes and mutual trust, the real user experience seems to remain at the cornerstone of re-establishing your business post-lockdown, regardless of platform or location.
Images source: https://www.pexels.com/@ketut-subiyanto