The Coronavirus Survival Guide for Retail [Infographic]

COVID-19 Survival Guide for Retail

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the retail sector has entered uncharted territory with the temporary closure of physical stores and the slowdown of consumer spending on broad scales. Undoubtedly, there will be tough challenges ahead. That’s why we decided that the best way to help is by offering ideas on the topics that we know well: customer engagements and online conversions. We call this the Coronavirus survival guide for retailers, and we hope it will bring some benefits to your business during these difficult times.

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May 2020 Update: We  analyzed more than 30M online transactions to understand how COVID-19 affected the consumers’ behavior. Here is the report.


When forming our survival guide ideas, we work from the following predictions and beliefs on how the coronavirus will impact the retail sector and consumer behavior.

  • A faster shift towards eCommerce. Online retail, already booming, will grow even more as consumers spend less time in public. We expect gains in eCommerce delivery services for grocers and restaurants. Of course, the general retail market will continue to shift spending online.
  • eCommerce marketing will be more competitive. As retailers are forced to shift focus to online selling, the competition to get consumer attention and wallet-share will be ever more intense. The result is a substantial rise in CPC (cost per click) and other performance marketing channels, adding to increased overall marketing spend for brands to remain competitive.
  • Disruptions to supply chain & operational logistics. Be prepared for disruptions to your business logistics from a shortage in inventory, limited availability of staff members, to overburdened shipping logistics.
  • Physical retail will return. The experience of interacting with a physical product is difficult to replace. Hence, we continue to believe that physical retail will remain the dominant channel after the pandemic. Consumers will look forward to visiting stores again to compensate for the time they are confined to home. So it’s key to be ready to pick up once they do.
  • Need for Business Continuity Planning.  This pandemic outlined the necessity for brands to develop crisis management skills and enable business continuity.


Tips on staying connected with your customers

1. Keep your customers updated on actions your business has taken towards the COVID-19 outbreak.

People feel an affinity towards brands that care about their community. So whether you have taken precaution for your store staff or supporting local organizations in times of need, these are great actions to communicate with your customers.

Examples include: Target, Casper

Recommended channels:

  • Email
  • SMS/Viber
  • Postcards with URL tracking
  • Social Media

2. Add social responsibility messages within your existing campaigns.

You can update your existing automated campaigns (e.g., abandoned cart, browse reminders) by embedding a small creative with messages that encourage customers to be responsible, stay home and shop online

Example include: Sezane

Social responsibility to Covid-19
Sezane, a french fashion retailer, informs website visitors that 10% of sales proceed are donated to local hospitals in support of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Recommended channels:

  • Email (Newsletter + Automated)

3. Encourage support systems among your customer community.

Social distancing is a lonely journey, but it doesn’t need to be so with a virtual community of like-minded people sharing similar interests. Your brand can be the catalyst that encourages your customers to connect via social community groups (whether they are interested in cooking, wine, reading, outdoor sports) to share stories about how they are coping with coronavirus at home. Share those moments via social media and newsletters. It’s a great way to build your brand affinity and source user-generated content (UGC).

Recommended channels:

  • Social media
  • Forums
  • Email (Newsletter sharing featured user stories)

Tips on boosting sales

1. Offer free shipping and extend the return period for online orders.

Given the likelihood of disruption in shipping logistics, offering free shipping and an extended return period gives customers greater comfort in placing their next orders.

Additionally, work with the shipping partners to ensure options for the Contactless Delivery and communicate this with your customers. This gives greater reassurance to your customers when they are ordering products from you.

Example: Intimissimi

Recommended channels:

  • Onsite pop-up
  • Push notification
  • Email
  • SMS/Viber
  • Social Media

2. Free small gifts with any online order.

Send a message of hope and love by offering a gift with each order. This can be an add-on product or 1+1 deals.

Recommended channels:

  • Onsite pop-up
  • Push notification
  • Email
  • SMS/Viber
  • Social Media

3. Follow up every shipped package with a cheerful postcard.

The postcard includes a trackable QR code, which, once scanned, gives the customer access to targeted promotions or unique content.

Recommended channels:

  • Postcards with tracking code
  • Landing page

4. Special offer for loyal customers

Keep your loyal customers (VIPs) close by offering additional points or gifts for their next purchase.

Macy’s, an American department store chain, offers special discounts for VIP shoppers amid the lock-down period.

Recommended channels:

  • Email
  • Postcard
  • Pop-up
  • Push Notification
  • SMS/Viber

5. Expand your payment options and credit allowance to include transactions outside of cash.

Promote the usage of PayPal, credit card types to allow customers more options to purchase on credit.

Recommended channels:

  • Email
  • Pop-up

Tips on sustaining your operations during the quarantine period

1. Convert some of your physical store staff to support sales via the digital channels.

For instance, sales staff can create videos, handle real-time chats, or direct calls with your customers. This helps to extend the physical store experience to the online world.

2. Ensure accurate updates to your product catalog.

As product inventory may be running low, keeping your product catalog synced with inventory count can avoid negative online shopping experiences for customers when the order placed cannot be properly fulfilled. Also, activating the “Alert me” automation that informs customers whenever an item they want is back-in-stock can further improve online experiences.

Recommended channels:

  • Email
  • Push notification



First, be realistic with your expectations for eCommerce. For retailers with large physical store networks, eCommerce will not substitute your physical sales. However, being proactive in building a stronger presence and being more aggressive with online offers can help to make up some of the impacts of this period.

Second, think long term and don’t let current fears cloud your judgment. We should aim to come out of the pandemic stronger than before. This means shoring up your resources to balance your operations and use the opportunity to invest in the necessary capability that positions your business to better capture the market during the COVID-19 period and when all returns to normal.

Finally, we’d also like to remind you that our team is ready to help. If you are looking for additional ideas to stand out and optimize online visitor engagements, don’t hesitate to reach out.

We will all get through this together.


Team ContactPigeon


Infographic: COVID19 Survival Guide for Retail
Click to get the full PDF.

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4 years ago

#1 is literally CRUCIAL but sill lots of brands choose to ignore it. Kudos for the infographic as well! 👏


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