At this point, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, it all comes back to one thing:
COVID-19. Businesses across all industries – except maybe supermarkets and pharmacies – are struggling to deal with the fallout of the crisis. In circumstances like these, we need to strengthen our businesses to safeguard against current and future volatility, while also building business-as-usual operations.
That’s where e-commerce comes in, as the unquestionable solution for the problem of self-isolation and avoidance of in-store shopping during this particular crisis. And – bonus! – it supports existing, day-to-day business even when there isn’t a global pandemic.
But what is it about e-commerce that makes it so valuable? Well, it’s convenient, flexible and works as a safety net to support existing revenue channels.
It’s the most obvious, but also the most significant: online shopping is convenient. Businesses are always there and always open. Customers aren’t limited to opening hours, and during extreme circumstances like we’re facing now, physical stores don’t need to remain open at all. And with shipping time globally getting shorter and shorter, the one major downside of online shopping is rapidly disappearing.
But it’s not just convenient in its accessibility; e-commerce has the convenience of information. The amount of information available to customers online makes it easier to compare products and find the best item at the best price. Businesses can get in on the information action as well. With analytics integration, we can monitor users and understand their buying habits, where they’ve come from, what products they’re considering, and more. This allows us to better respond to their needs and motivations.
More than ever, for both consumer and business, online shopping is flexible. E-commerce is no longer limited to just a shop website, now including other channels like social media, online marketplaces, influencers and apps. With multi-channel integration, we can meet new and existing customers in different spaces and in different ways depending on the channel.
This allows businesses to be reactive, proactive, engaged and engaging.
It’s already played out during this crisis: brands in China that had an early shift to focus on digital marketing and e-commerce showed increased sales overall, even compared to the same period last year when there wasn’t a global pandemic.
For businesses that only have a single e-commerce channel, the flexibility is still there. From scaling up or down business with minimal costs, to increased agility in how we can respond to online trends. Creating a new digital banner for a website, for example, has a much shorter production time than designing, producing and installing a window display. And that window display relies on customers being out and about to see it …
In times like these, online shopping is without a doubt the safer choice for individual and collective health. For many people around the world, it’s the only choice. While we’re currently living through an extremely rare situation, the safety net of e-commerce for consumers and businesses alike is an integral part of its value.
For some, it comes back to accessibility. There will always be people for whom physical shopping isn’t an option, whether due to age, disability, location, disease, or something else. But more than that, e-commerce creates a stable and consistent integrated revenue stream to support established business. Whatever products or services we’re selling, by having two largely independent channels operating, we’re crafting a safety net to use when one is threatened. That, more than anything else, is the key to resilience.
E-commerce is not about replacing brick and mortar stores; it’s about diversifying and integrating your channels to support each other and to be there for your customers where they expect to find you. Research – and common sense – shows that when physical, in-store shopping is inconvenient or challenging, people will turn to online shopping.
With greater convenience, flexibility and as a safety net in times of uncertainty, e-commerce is resilient and it makes our businesses more resilient.
Get in touch to find out how our teams can support your business in finding the right e-commerce solutions. Growth starts here.
The importance of Retail Strategy.
Contrary to many people’s perceptions, retail is not only about the process of selling branded consumer goods to customers, but also selling branded services.
When taking on a new project in both consumer goods or services, one must keep in mind that retail strategy is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle together with the creation of the concept. In the majority of projects we are involved, we always highlight the importance to execute a full commercial plan that covers a variety of strategic level decisions, such as the types of goods or services, product naming, store interiors, perception building for the market to be served, the optimal product assortment, customer service, communication tactic and the store’s overall market positioning.
Retailers must start by formulating the retail mix for the strategy, which includes the prime 6P model: product, price, place, promotion, personnel and presentation. Setting these individual elements correctly is crucial for the market positioning of a brand in the retail world: the type of product being sold, it’s visual impact, price positioning, display and sales environment – be it available for online purchase or only offline – the way it is promoted, through which channels and so on. The importance of the 6P model has also become increasingly relevant for online retail, as a large number of businesses are looking to reach wider markets by selling through multiple digital channels. The vibrant, online retail experience, must complement the brick and mortar business, developing strong and inspiring customer-journeys to convert visitor traffic into sales.
The importance of the 6P model has also become increasingly relevant for online retail, as a large number of businesses are looking to reach wider markets by selling through multiple digital channels.
The digital world is also pervasive in the way that we pay for goods and services which is constantly evolving. Retailers must be ready to adopt and embrace various new technologies in order to facilitate payments, enabling customers to purchase with ease and offering more flexible solutions. For example, Revolut, a customer-centric debit card payment system makes transactions smoother universally. Other payment portals such as Sumup, have become the smart choice for mobile payments. Keeping up with new technologies is not an option.
Retailers must be ready to adopt and embrace various new technologies in order to facilitate payments, enabling customers to purchase with ease and offering more flexible solutions.
Product and service packaging with the choice of goods and services offered, must fit like a glove into the brand story, with their identity and values always standing strong to the retail promise. These elements should be clearly communicated to consumers so that they can easily identify with the offering that is available to them at the respective outlet or online shopping platform.
Understanding and further developing the brand character and product range in relation to its specific target audience is as important as the ‘naming’ of these items. These, together with visual positioning and memory-recall of specific brand attributes such as iconography, typography or logo elements and colours are also part of the primary retail nodes which people relate to and keep remembering, as ‘top-of-mind’.
Keeping up with new technologies is not an option.
Brand stand-out and differentiation may be achieved through creative and innovative retail design. Strategy for single or multi-outlet branded spaces must be consumer-centric, for any retail business, be it home furnishings, banking, perfumery, telco, confectionery, hospitality, automotive etc. Over the years we have studied and executed various retail concepts with a special focus on the customer journey, sales touch-points and memorable interactions in store that will grow to become top-of-mind whilst strengthening the overall marketing and promotional efforts. Various brands from all over the globe are currently experimenting with different instore journeys with the goal of creating a shareable effect through digital channels, such as Instagram, where marketing efforts are being amplified by customers, creating a new earned media phenomenon.
Brand stand-out and differentiation may be achieved through creative and innovative retail design.
Only after all the items on the retail strategy checklist are ticked off is the concept ready to go to market. Facing a buoyant hyper-economy, it is essential that the brand and its offering are ready to face both the constantly-agile competition as well as a more educated and demanding consumer pool.
Featured on Archello on 5th June, 2016, http://www.archello.com/en/product/romano-cassar
Romano Cassar, one of Malta’s premier florists, entrusted Steves&Co. to extend their refreshed branding across their interior space. The firm aspired to create a retail area that would capture the nature of the company whilst simultaneously showcase the many plant varieties and beautiful floral designs they create for their growing client base.
In order to reflect the company’s keen eye for detail and design, as well as their genuine passion for floristry, natural materials were used to colour the space. Maple wood was used for floor-to-ceiling structures and a natural palette of mint, grey and beige were combined to emit a calm and earthy feel. The vibrant aesthetic taken on by the retail outlet greets you at the door, tied with the delicate scent of freshly cut buds; it truly is an experience for all the senses within the branded interiors.
Large format shelving graces the high walls surrounding the retail area and serves as the perfect platform, giving the eye enough room to view all the decorative items on display. Flowerpots trim the area, carefully placed on top of modular steps with mint rectangular plinths. This horizontal rhythm adds a playful dynamic to the space, grouping particular floral items according to their visual qualities.
For Steves&Co, the private office design was a project focus in itself. This room is a key component for Romano Cassar, as a large segment of business is derived from creative floral décor for weddings, private functions and larger-scale events. Thus, much attention was paid to curate a conservative and professional style that portrays the true character of Romano Cassar and sets the right atmosphere. All in all, it may be said that the interior layout and décor complements the outlet’s footprint and field perfectly. The subtle tones and fresh appeal mirror their creative artistry and first class delivery. A proud space.
The firm is proud to have been featured on Office Snapshots, a leading website dedicated to the finding and sharing of workplace inspiration and interior design.
Following the agency’s gradual transition from a team of three to a fully-fledged company, a refreshed brand image was in order. With such growth came the extension of our product line, introducing interior design as our most recent venture. The Steves&Co. premises served as a debut of such a service offering, as well as a depiction of the firm’s work ethic. The office space adopted refined aesthetics and embraced the collaboration of creatives and people through its engaging layout and open design. As described by the designer herself, “The office is a warm, industrial, open-plan space designed to reflect the way the firm works.”
The article was published on January the 4th and can be found through this link.
The Firm presented the company’s recent endeavours and refreshed identity at an event held on Friday the 30th of October at its new offices in Lija.
Steves&Co. has launched its new service line in the field of branded interior design. Its own offices were described to be an exhibition of this new service offering, proving to be an extension of the brand and a reflection of its culture. Following such growth, both in terms of the broadening of services as well as in physical presence, Mr. Ciantar-Barbara, the Executive Director, said: ‘It was befitting of Steves&Co. to depict this repositioning in the form of a new, content-rich website and refined brand image.’
Along with such refreshed collateral, the company also released its second edition of the Steves&Co. book, The Second Journal, as well as its first ever supplement, titled TOAST.
The rebrand will continue to demonstrate the company’s unparalleled, innovative approach to commercial endeavours whilst simultaneously reflecting its refined image.