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Retail Communications in the Age of Coronavirus

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Effective critical communications start at the top, with senior leaders using email marketing as a means to share news about COVID-19, what they are doing to help, and also what consumers can do to stay safe and help others. But apart from the commonality of top-of-mind emails from the C-Suite, communications in the age of coronavirus should not be one-size-fits-all. 

The novel coronavirus is having a massive influence on the global economy and retail marketers need to be able to respond and adapt to a quickly changing landscape. That’s why Movable Ink’s client strategy team is sharing industry-specific tactics that retail marketers can employ to maintain transparency and keep customers at the core of their critical communications.

Revisit scheduled messages to ensure they’re timely

In times like this, it may be really easy to come off as tone-deaf. Brands should revisit their marketing calendars and review scheduled campaigns to make sure they’re still relevant. We all understand that marketing messages cannot stop entirely, but you can execute campaigns in a way that takes the severity of this situation into account.

Most importantly though, brands have to continuously remember to make the customer feel like they are the number 1 priority. L’Occitane did a great job of making sure the customer is #1 with this message: 

The campaign started out with a “Good News” hero, which stands out in a sea of bad news. Then the email continues to provide real value to the consumer by offering a place where they could wash their hands. While this campaign is subtle, it also offers the individual a relevant reason to come into the store. 

Share real-time shipping updates

Logistics have also been significantly impacted by the coronavirus. Limitations on travel are inevitably holding up some shipments. FedEx and UPS have been warning of delivery delays, and it is difficult for these companies to predict the level of impact because this is a very fluid situation. 

While consumers are likely to initially understand delays, they will expect brands to be transparent about when they can expect their products. To help with this, marketers can consider incorporating real-time shipping trackers into their campaigns that provide the customer with the most recent information about their package’s location.

Be transparent about operations

A major effect of the coronavirus has been the temporary closures of stores in the areas that have been hit the hardest. Since state and local governments are beginning to issue quarantine mandates, brands should prepare to communicate relevant information should operations be systemically disrupted.

This is a stressful time for customers, so brands should aim to minimize confusion by communicating any changes as quickly and effectively as possible. Because of this, we are seeing more creative that features real-time updates on store hours and open locations. 

These “maps and map helpers” provide necessary information as stores open and close. By providing real-time updates on hours and open locations, you can deliver relevant, necessary information to your customers. 

Some companies have already closed stores until further notice and have used email as a means to keep customers informed and encourage them to be healthy. For example, Foot Locker temporarily closed its stores in North America for the health and safety of customers and staff. Their team used this email as an opportunity to ensure customers that the brand is taking the pandemic seriously, will support employees with emergency pay while still offering the ability to shop via their website or mobile app.

About the author

Julio Lopez

Prior to joining Movable Ink to oversee North America and EMEA retail strategy, Julio worked across multiple SaaS companies whose integrated solutions focused on driving digital innovation for retailers. At Experian CheetahMail (now Cheetah Digital) he worked on strategic email program development and deployment. At RevTrax he worked closely with the executive team to manage the evolution of the product, define go-to-market strategies, and led the Customer Experience organization in delivering ROI targets for the client base. Julio joins Movable Ink from Eversight, where he led strategic engagements that leveraged the software to create and deliver smart, dynamic pricing and targeted promotions.

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