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The coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay at home and practice social distancing. People have also started avoiding physical stores and choosing eCommerce to mitigate the risks of catching the virus.
Online sales have increased by 50% compared to the same time last year. However, 36% of eCommerce business owners predict their sales will decline due to supply chain issues and shipping delays.
As an online retailer or marketer, you need to adapt your go to market strategy in this changing world, especially in times of crisis.
Here are eight tips to keep your eCommerce business growth stable during the coronavirus era.
1- Be Consistent on Building Brand Loyalty
Chances of selling to existing customers are between 60-70% . For new customers, this number drops to 5-20%.
One of the best ways to keep your eCommerce growth stable is by establishing loyalty among your customers.
Here are some ways to build brand loyalty during the COVID-19 times:
Offer proactive customer service through various channels, including social media, email, and phone.
Train your support team to handle customer requests related to delay in delivery. Teach them different ways to highlight how hard you are trying to deliver the products during this difficult time, without being too obvious.
Be as transparent as possible. If there’s a delay in delivery, let the customer know in advance. Don’t make them wait till the last moment, and then apologize for not being on time. If the eCommerce services are restricted in certain pin codes, keep your customers in those areas updated with the latest news about the restrictions.
Leverage emails or in-app messaging to see how your customers are doing.
Offer add-on services such as extended warranty or insurance coverage at checkout.
Create helpful content related to your business. For example, if you sell beauty products, share some beauty tips with home remedies. Optimum Nutrition sells fitness products online. Given the circumstances, they are now posting home workout videos on their Instagram handle.
Understand the problems your customers are facing. Tailor your message and offerings around that.
2- Reshape Your Business Around Latest Trends
eCommerce businesses need to adapt to the latest trends to meet their customer’s needs and win the market.
Here are some interesting changes in customer behavioral trends in recent days.
Nutrition product sales have surged online by over 49% as compared to the previous month.
Apparel and accessories sales are up almost by 96% as compared to the previous month.
Food & beverage eCommerce is up by 15.9% as compared to the previous month.
The hand sanitizers market registered year-over-year growth of around 485% from 2019.
Webcams sales saw a 458% rise in March.
Shaving and grooming gear sales rose by 241% in the last week of March.
Gaming equipment sales increased by 338% in the last week of March.
(Based on findings from Criteo and ShipBob ).
Follow these practices to reshape your brand as per the latest trends:
If you are selling any of the trending products, make sure to highlight them on your website’s homepage. If not, try to partner with companies selling them and offer them to your customers. Fry’s, an electronics company, has highlighted trending products, like masks (which they don’t usually sell) and webcams on their homepage.
Practice active social listening to determine what kind of products people are buying or are expecting to purchase post-COVID-19.
Leverage machine learning to predict customer demands. Use the data to optimize customer and supplier relationship management and run marketing campaigns accordingly.
Customize the user experience by eliminating the need for two-factor authentication by saving the customer’s device, IP, and geolocation. Set up additional authentication only if any of this information (device, IP, or location) is different.
3- Optimize Your eCommerce Site
During these challenging times, you must take extra steps in optimizing your site for improved user experience.
Here are some of the best ways to optimize your eCommerce store during the COVID-19 era.
Ensure that your keyword strategy is aligned with the changing search behavior. Once you’ve identified the right keywords, optimize your product descriptions to reflect the same.
Reorganize your product catalog and highlight the items based on current needs and demands. Forever 21, for instance, has optimized its site to reflect current needs. Masks are one of the most purchased products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forever 21 has highlighted “masks are back” at the top of their homepage. They have also mentioned that shipments will be delayed due to safety measures.
Change your delivery practices by practicing safe social distancing. For example, Amazon has temporarily suspended accepting cash on delivery (COD) to ensure social distancing.
If you are not delivering nonessential products, make sure to highlight it upfront.
Many eCommerce websites have halted returns (temporarily) or have extended the return window. If you too have done it, let your customers know by adding a banner on your website.
Update your FAQs section to reflect the changes in your business during coronavirus.
4- Manage Your Supply Chain Issues
Many businesses are experiencing supply chain disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic because of the restrictions imposed by the government.
You can manage your supply chain issues by taking the following steps:
Contact your manufacturers: Talk to your manufacturers to know where they stand in terms of production. If they have halted their operations due to coronavirus, ask about how much stock they have and when they would be able to restart the production. This will enable you to plan all the aspects of your supply chain accordingly.
Look for backup suppliers: Your regular supplier (or manufacturer) might be providing you with products as per your requirement. But it’s a good idea to examine what other suppliers can offer. Build a relationship with them so that you can order products from them in case of disruption.
Build up inventory: Products like masks and sanitizers are being ordered more than others. Identify such items and create a stockpile that can last for the next quarter at the least.
Expand your supplier base: Like an investment portfolio, diversifying your supplier base can be a good thing, especially if you serve in different locations. By expanding your supplier base, you will be able to get at least some goods during the disruption.
Contact alternate logistics providers: Now that you have sorted your supply chain, it is essential to ensure that your customers receive the product on time. Partner with alternative delivery partners to help you mitigate any possible delivery delays.
5- Introduce Your Brand to Multiple Sales Channel
With more people shopping online, introducing your brand to different sales channels can help you grow your customer base .
Here are some of the top channels where you should improve the presence of your brand:
Amazon: Amazon is the most popular marketplace in the world. Selling on Amazon gives you a certain degree of credibility and helps build trust with customers.
Facebook: Facebook is the largest social media with more than 2.6 billion monthly active users (as of Q1 2020). Facebook allows you to integrate your eCommerce site and sell directly through your Facebook business page. No Rest For Bridget is an excellent example of a brand selling on Facebook. They have highlighted all their products on their Facebook Business Page. You can use a similar strategy to acquire more customers from Facebook, where people are spending more time.
Cratejoy: If you offer a subscription box service, then platforms like Cratejoy are worth trying. They offer features and services for businesses of all sizes.
Google Shopping: Most of the product searches begin with Google. Hence, Google Shopping is worth considering. However, unlike other channels where you list yourself as a seller, in Google Shopping, you will have to bid on ads with a PPC model.
Daily Deal Sites: Coupon websites like Groupon have a vast customer base. By partnering with daily deals sites, you can reach a wider audience, promoting your products to their email list.
6- Advertise Your Brand
Advertising is the lifeline for every business. You should always take the first step in promoting your brand effectively by adopting the best advertising techniques.
Adopt the below strategies to advertise your business prominently and generate measurable results:
Content marketing: Content marketing supports your SEO by enabling you to publish fresh content and integrate more keywords. Content marketing also helps build trust with potential customers by letting you address their concerns.
Email marketing: Email marketing is the most effective online marketing channel. Let your customers know about any changes in your business via emails. If you are offering discounts during coronavirus, send promo codes to your customers on email to encourage them to purchase. For example, Tru Earth begins their email by asking how are you doing? And then they say you can get the product at $99.95 instead of $149.95.
Social media marketing: With more than 3.8 billion people using social media, you cannot avoid promoting your brand on different social networks. Identify the channels where most of your customers spend time on and leverage those networks to advertise your eCommerce brand. KFC shared a smart social distancing campaign on Instagram while promoting their chicken. KFC ensured the customers about the safety of the meals prepared and delivered by them.
Paid advertising: Paid ads help generate results from day one. Many brands are avoiding paid advertising to conserve cash flow, but if you can, keep your ads running.
Affiliate marketing: Find affiliates in your industry with a good reach and request them to promote your product.
7- Stay Connected With Your Customers
Engaging with your customers and letting them know that you are with them during the coronavirus crisis is essential. This will make them feel valued and trust you even more.
Create a blog post or a video and tell them about the safety measures your brand is taking to prevent the virus outbreak.
Best Buy, for instance, has its safety measures highlighted on the top of its homepage. It also contains a link, which users can click to know more about the safety plans taken by the brand.
This helps build confidence and encourages the customer to shop from you.
Also, consider emailing the list of measures taken by your brand to prevent the virus outbreak.
8- Evaluate Your Customer Experience
In the coronavirus era, customers are expecting smooth services. It involves fulfilling their orders and offering fast delivery while ensuring their safety.
Assessing your customer sentiments and overall satisfaction percentage helps you determine the loopholes in your services and improve your business processes.
Here’s how you can evaluate your customer experience.
Survey your customers: Send emails to your customers who have purchased from you during the coronavirus outbreak and ask about their experience. Also, ask if they have any feedback (about what could have been done better)?
Analyze net promoter score: Ask your customers, “how likely are they to recommend your brand to someone they know”? If their answer goes against your company, then it’s time to improve your services.
Read online reviews: Analyze all the reviews posted post the coronavirus pandemic. Contact the customers who left negative reviews and ask what went wrong.
Practice social media listening: Social networks, especially Twitter, has become a go-to place for customers to discuss a brand. Use social listening tools to check what customers are saying about your brand.
In these challenging times, it is essential to make some special efforts to grow your eCommerce business. Focus on building brand loyalty even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reshape your business around the latest trends in buying behavior. Look for ways to manage supply chain issues. Find new channels to grow your customer base and advertise your brand. Last but not least, measure how satisfied your customers are and take steps to improve the overall user experience.