By Silvio Tavares, CEO, The CardLinx Association
At a time like this, when our personal lives and professional lives are unexpectedly upended, it‘s tough to stay optimistic—and not lose sight of unseen opportunities. As we witness the enormous scale of death, sickness and suffering caused by Covid-19, it can be difficult to see the silver lining.
But it is often when we face the biggest challenges that we become most innovative. That is certainly the case for our industry and this past month has been no exception. Here are three key developments that propelled our industry to positive change, instead of casualty, in light of Covid-19:
- Card-linked Offers Boom On-line. The rapid closure of schools, shops and offices in Asia, Europe and North America meant that merchants with both online and in-store operations had to shift rapidly to online-only. Many online merchants saw sales growth of over 50% in the last few weeks. Merchants fanned this growth by using card-linked offers to drive consumer spending by dangling double-digit discounts. Traditionally, merchants have used CLO to drive in-store sales—but that’s no longer the case. Instead merchants like 24S, a division of LVMH and Harvey Nichols, the eponymous UK high street retailer, are using card-linking to sell goods on-line with unprecedented growth. This means that CLO has become a new “wonder” digital channel for e-commerce.
- E-commerce and In-store, Now Two Sides of The Same Coin. It’s been a long time coming, but we’ll remember the Covid-19 virus as the force that finally dismantled the wall between ecommerce and brick and mortar shopping. Simply put, if you sell goods through a physical store, Covid-19 has made you realize that you also need an on-line presence. For example, if you are a local restaurant, you now realize that an on-line menu and e-commerce delivery service is a “must have”, not a “nice to have”. An unexpected outcome of Covid-19 is that almost every type of business has discovered their need to sell on-line too. Whether you’re a restaurant or a plumber, a bricks and mortar merchant must now be an e-commerce merchant too.
- Discount Merchants Outperform By Adding Delivery. We’ve all been reading about how many bricks and mortar merchants are on the brink of failure. But there’s a group of these traditional merchants that are thriving. This high growth merchant group is comprised of discount retailers that have adopted delivery models. For example, Walmart announced it will hire 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May for their stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, plans to hire 25,000 workers. And discount restaurant chain Domino’s is hiring more than 10,000 workers to meet new demand. It is not all bad for bricks and mortar merchants, some are booming and gaining share.
And a bonus silver lining … unexpected family reunions. This particular bright side has nothing to do with commerce and everything to do with unforeseen blessings. In the past week more than five of my friends or colleagues have had adult children move back home. Some of the kids were evacuated from college while others arrived after having been on their own. These reunions are playing out all over the US, Europe and Asia. Unanticipated homecomings are fueling a massive cultural shift away from individualism and towards a more collaborative mindset. Many are realizing that we are all in this together. In our extremely individualist modern culture, exacerbated by hyper-personalized social media, this trend will have meaningful positive impact going forward. Nothing bad about that.