COVID-19 and E-Commerce: From IRL to URL

The global pandemic is effecting us all and the situation is rapidly changing. The state of wireless retail is in the midst of a flux. 

Consumers are trying their best to adapt to this new normal without a ton of footholds and retailers are facing the same uncertainty while trying to balance their customers’ needs as well as their own.

With cities entering lockdown and people avoiding public spaces, retailers are responding by looking at ways to meet their customers where they are – curbside, delivery, or in their home. To do the latter requires moving their brick and mortar store online.

Let’s take a look at ways you can move from IRL to URL to help your customers continue shopping with you.

Understand your demographics

Online presence is on the rise. As people embrace social distancing as a way to slow the spread of the virus, there has naturally been a drop-off in brick-and-mortar shopping and an uptick in online activity. But don’t assume that this is true across all your demographics.

While it’s true that people are spending more time online than before the pandemic, their spending habits have shifted.

Different generations respond to situations uniquely. For instance, Millennials grew up and lived through the 2008 recession and therefore saw the toll it took on their family. They understand how quickly things can change and are holding onto their money and changing their spending patterns more, whereas only 26% of Baby Boomers say they’re changing where and how they shop with 19% saying it’s impacted how much they spend.

Getting online-ready during COVID-19

At a time when consumers need reliable e-commerce experiences, COVID-19 is exposing how critical it is to leverage digital to stay connected. Canadian stores are being mandated to close by the carrier; US stores are open but still have need for customers to use online appointments, to limit the people in store, limit the time in store, all with a goal limiting the risk of transmission.

As consumers embrace social distancing, businesses everywhere are naturally seeing a drop-off in physical traffic. It’s become evident that retailers must adopt new strategies to effectively support the surge of new customers and reliance on e-commerce.

In part one of How Wireless Retail Stores Can Adjust to COVID-19, our wireless retail expert, Will Kropp, walked through some of the different strategies he’s been seeing retailers deploy on the frontline. One of those was providing appointments for customers.


Essentially, you provide your customers with the ability to book appointments so that they can safely book time with you to get what they need without rushing, worrying, or compromising their health and safety.

You can do this via phone or online, though there is something to be said about the ease and convenience of providing an online experience. Consumers are willing to switch brands if another has inventory visibility and availability. Which means that if you can show up, be available, and provide the technology to either chat online or make appointments happen online, you could win customer loyalty.

Get online in minutes with iQmetrix

Having a web presence right now is so important, but not everyone can afford to quickly get it up and running. Our teams recognized this problem and acted quickly to respond with the launch of our software, eCommerce, enabling free access to iQmetrix eCommerce capabilities so that clients of RQ can continue connecting and selling essential communication services during COVID-19.

For clients who don’t have an online presence or appointment booking, this is huge. And the nice thing about this functionality is that it’s entirely self serve, so if you already have RQ, you can literally turn it on with a flip of a switch and have an online presence within minutes. That’s huge!

Our team is also helping businesses market this tool to their customers so they know where to go and what to do when they get there.

Use eCommerce long term, not just short term

It’s expected that this shift in consumer behavior will outlast the pandemic long after it’s over.

In the month of February alone, there were 8.8 percent more digital shoppers resulting in an astounding 55 percent increase in online salesbefore a third of the global population was told to stay at home.

The takeaway here is that consumers are going to learn new habits during this pandemic, which means your customers are going to become more comfortable shopping online than in-store once this is all over.

This means it’s important to consider a eCommerce as a long term strategy. Ask yourself the following questions short term and long term:

  • What can you do to reassure your customers that, in these times, you are reliable, trustworthy, and convenient to do business with?
  • What tools do you have that can help you in the long run to ensure success during and after these turbulent times?
  • Are you making it as easy as possible for consumers and customers to shop with you?

E-commerce is more than shopping online

Whether your website is just for selling or has a full-suite of functions to make buying your products easier, eCommerce provides your customers with a convenient shopping experience.

Online + In-store: Enable omnichannel and create consistency between your virtual and physical storefronts. Create a great experience and showcase product information and your entire stock catalog.

Order anywhere, pickup everywhere: Never again will a customer leave your store empty handed. Delight them with the ability to reserve online, pick up in-store; or buy online and ship directly to their home.

Research, reserve, and buy online: Give your shoppers what they want, when they want it. Whether it’s in-stock or not, customers can be sure you’ll be able to deliver. With the option to reserve online, shoppers can decide to pick the item up in store once it arrives, or have it shipped directly to them.

Learn more about eCommerce

COVID-19 has presented a challenges and opportunities for brick and mortar businesses. The closure of brick mortar retail shops has significantly affected the revenue of their business negatively. But with the right strategy and tools, they can revive their business digitally.