In this series with brand partners, Practicology GM Merline McGregor reveals solutions for trading during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

I remember sitting in the office of my CEO 20 years ago and valiantly arguing the benefits of taking our cinema’s ticketing system online. I didn’t win that argument but, fast-forward to 2020, and sudden events mean, at least for a few months, there is no longer a choice between physical and digital retail. Companies need to mobilise quickly to ensure they are responding to the current situation.

1. Continue to communicate

Customers are saturated with a barrage of negative news and sensationalism. Your online content remains king – our data shows ecommerce site traffic is up almost 20% y-o-y. Remember to entertain your customers with both product and brand stories, as well as timely and uplifting content.

Through owned channels (website, social, email, Google My Business) brands have messaged their increased hygiene measures, changed trading and customer service hours, store closures and more to demonstrate their customer-first approach.

2. Remove all barriers to purchasing on your website

Brands must quickly review their online user experience. This can be a difficult task when resources are deployed elsewhere, you’ve been forced to reduce your workforce, or you lack the internal expertise.

Identify your biggest barriers to purchase by reviewing your analytics and where customers are dropping out of the purchase funnel. Set a few simple tasks (for example, buy a product in your size) and review the user journey. Ask yourself: was it as expected? Was it a pleasant experience? How quickly did you find what you were looking for? This exercise will surface the biggest pain points your customers face.

Lastly, don’t forget to review key site metrics - including site speed. Anything over three seconds and customers have a reason to look elsewhere.

3. Develop data-driven digital marketing plans

Take the time to review your online channel mix and redirect your marketing investment to high converting channels to drive sales. You can find relevant channel benchmarks here.

Brands should consider relaxing their ROAS targets to capture maximum market share. Utilise current databases to market to existing customers through Google and Facebook, and prospect for new, similar audiences, while there is an unprecedented opportunity to drive customer acquisition.

Open up new revenue-driving channels. Many brands do not use affiliates strategically, though it’s generally incremental traffic and can generate up to 10% of website revenue. In addition, YouTube reports huge spikes in screen watching; now is the time to trial it.

4. Agility

This last point isn’t so much an action as a mindset. In the current environment brands need to make decisions quickly, and decisively pivot towards digital. Australia’s retail community has banded together to make free resources available. Kate Morris from Adore Beauty has created a Slack channel for retailers, and many solution partners have launched campaigns to assist the retail community.

The silver lining of this crisis is that the spirit of Australian retail will shine through, and we will continue to support each other during these difficult times.

Practicology is a boutique multichannel consultancy with a wide range of ecommerce, design, analytics, digital marketing, marketplaces management and ongoing support services. If you would like your brand to contribute to Practicology's monthly benchmark results and receive a monthly report, email

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