Standing Out in Times of Uncertainty: A Guide for Modern Retailers


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As retailers continue to navigate COVID-19 regulations, battle supply chain demands, and attempt to remain agile in a rapidly evolving, digital-first, retail environment, finding new ways to engage consumers and drive loyalty is crucial. The reality of today’s retail environment requires merchants to be more digitally communicative and cultivate supportive digital relationships with customers as they maneuver these unique factors impacting the retail buying cycle year-round. So how can retailers remain agile in the face of the changing consumer market? And how will retail marketing campaigns stand out for pandemic-weary customers? Here are a few key tips.

1. Openly communicate with consumers and encourage positivity where possible

While the pandemic has brought on health and safety concerns, it has also significantly impacted logistical elements of the consumer journey, such as product fulfillment and supply chain velocity. Given that these logistical considerations can also impact the consumer experience, successful retailers will prepare to accommodate their customers by offering multiple avenues for their shopping experience, which may mean heading into stores in person.

Prior to 2020, online shopping was edging brick-and-mortar stores out of the retail market. Now, with ongoing staffing troubles and supply chain delays, going into a physical store location may be the only guaranteed way to get particular items on time. Given the understanding that these seemingly negative factors may have a detrimental effect on consumer engagement and sales, retailers should lean into—and reframe—factors such as supply chain delays as an opportunity to empower customers and encourage them to buy what they need right away at their physical store locations. Many companies are vertically integrating more and disconnecting from some global supply chains; this process will take some time and mean delays and lack of stock.

Inflation is another major factor impacting the retail environment, and, as manufacturers reshuffle their own supply chains inventory and inflation will continue to be an issue.

In response to an unstable economic climate, the high markdowns and sales consumers have grown to expect around certain seasons and holidays—which allow retailers to distribute exciting messaging such as “lowest price of the season!”—are now less realistic. “Deals” and promotions will become increasingly rare, and retailers will have to manage their consumers’ expectations with messaging such as “buy now!” because certain products are either not going to be available or will be a lot more expensive in a matter of time. The best way to address a negative retail environment is by being proactive and transparent with customers and creating the most positive messaging possible while still being sensitive to the current landscape.

2. Understand and acknowledge consumers’ emotional drivers and cater the marketing experience towards them

Effectively communicating and tailoring messages to your consumers is just as important as tapping into the emotions driving consumer behavior. Recent research in retail trends indicates that customers want to feel seen and heard by the brands they choose to buy from and respond well to emotional appeal. In fact, the right emotion in customer communication accounts for 60% of the difference in customer engagement between successful messages and low-performing ones.

Emotions that resonated pre-pandemic such as urgency and encouragement are giving way to different emotions such as achievement, gratitude, and attention as the heightened sense of stress following 2020 begins to subside. Marketing tactics and customer behavior will continue to evolve in turn, so it’s imperative for retailers to acknowledge consumers’ struggles and desires while maintaining reward practices such as sales and exclusive discount offerings where possible. Acknowledging customers’ emotions and showing them gratitude through emotionally-driven, personalized content will increase customer retention and brand loyalty.

3. Be prepared to constantly adapt and respond quickly to shifting consumer trends

Over the past few years, there have been drastic changes to consumer behaviors and interests, so it’s important for retailers to remain flexible and quickly adapt to the latest messaging that’s resonating with customers. What works today may not work two months from now.

With such a frequently-changing retail environment, competitive brands will ensure they are cultivating both in-person and virtual experiences. We know that today’s consumers are relocating now more than ever, and they are not indefinitely tied to specific locations as the pandemic nears its end. This means that creating digital relationships between brands and consumers is even more important, as is carrying that digital relationship across into the physical. An example of this carryover is: an individual moving from a small town to a city like Austin or Miami immediately knowing how and where to find their favorite brand’s physical store location.

The modern brand/consumer relationship doesn’t stop with location; agile retailers should continuously test and learn from the performance of various messages to adjust marketing strategies as soon as there are indications that consumer interests or market conditions are shifting. The ability to recognize these preferences in consumer communication as quickly as possible will allow brands the opportunity to foster stronger relationships with their customers.

In the coming months, expect heightened demands from consumers beyond supply chain and delivery timeline frustrations as the retail environment changes. These demands will increase competitiveness between retail brands as consumers have a plethora of options when it comes to choosing which brands they shop from and engage with.

To come out on top, modern-day retailers must keep their ears to the ground for market developments and respond quickly and efficiently to broader consumer trends impacting shopping behavior moving forward. In an age where retailers must do everything they can to break through to customers, they must adapt their approach and shift toward personalized messaging. To learn how Fortune 500 retailers are already adapting their approach and increasing conversion rates by 41% on average, visit

Vipul Vyas
Vipul Vyas is Senior Vice President of Go To Market Strategy at Persado, responsible for injecting deep industry understanding and insights into Persado's client and partner relationships. Vipul has been a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for the past 20 years. Vipul has also been responsible for creating over $4B+ in trackable benefit for his clients over his career and is named on 10 US patents. He has a BS in management information systems from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.


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