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If coronavirus has negatively impacted your sales or your ability to conduct business as usual, all is not lost. While the impact of coronavirus on consumer preferences and demands may last beyond the virus, life will return to normal — even if it’s a “new normal.”
In the meantime, here are nine tips for adapting your ecommerce strategy in this changing world.
1. Contact your manufacturers.
As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of factors at play here. You may see a surge in demand on your online store; you may not — but, either way, supply could become an issue.
Talk to your manufacturers about where they stand on production and how they anticipate coronavirus impacting their business. You can’t plan for what you don’t know, so do your best to be as informed as possible about all aspects of your supply chain.
2. Search for alternative providers.
When coronavirus first appeared, it was largely centred in China — which is also where many sellers source their products. This did cause inventory shortages for some sellers who were unable to find alternate suppliers.
There is evidence that China is slowly but surely returning to business as usual, but other countries are feeling the strain (including the U.S.). Having a few different options to lean on as the situation evolves globally can help you mitigate risk.
3. Conduct a customer needs evaluation.
Think about your target or ideal customer groups — what’s their current situation? Are they working from home, serving on the front lines as essential workers, or furloughed/laid off? What are their particular needs and concerns right now?
Once you better understand their current needs, you can assess your readiness to meet them. Consider whether you currently have the inventory to support their needs or if you should consider pivoting to better serve them.
4. Shift towards an at-home audience.
One of the most obvious impacts of coronavirus is the increase in spending much more time at home than usual. Think about how you can shift your strategy to better serve their needs, or even delight them in these stressful times.
Restaurants are a great example of this. Since they’ve had to close their dine-in services, they have ramped up the curbside pick-up and delivery services to make ends meet and keep customers fed.
On the ecommerce side, some stores have begun stocking new items and/or featuring collections of existing products that are more relevant to many people’s day-to-day lives now — specifically, staying at home. Son of a Sailor, a shop focused on gifts like jewellery and other accessories, has a product collection page of “Boredom Busters” featured on their homepage.
5. Embrace new sales channels.
One of the consequences of people being asked to stay at home is, of course, a large decrease in brick-and-mortar foot traffic — or even shop closures. This is a great time for brick-and-mortars to start an online store if they don’t already have one or, if they do, to double down on their online presence and digital marketing.
6. Update product pages.
In times of uncertainty, you want to make sure to communicate with your customers if any of your services will be changing.
Coronavirus has presented a situation that may cause supply chain issues, even on a per-product basis — and if that’s the case for your business, keep your product pages updated so your customers know what to expect. You may learn that certain products will be out of stock for a while, that shipments are taking longer to reach their destinations, or some of your products are selling out more quickly than usual.
This is all-important information for your customers to have as they shop your store. Be transparent and provide as much information as you can. By managing expectations, you’ll be more likely to have satisfied customers — even if you are experiencing a slow-down in service.
7. Have a data mindset and people focus.
One of the biggest keys to a successful business is being able to recognize and fill the needs of a certain subset of customers. Even in the face of today’s global situation, that fact remains the same.
Luckily, our connected society offers so many opportunities to collect data. Use it to your advantage and observe the difference in customer behaviour. If you focus on meeting their needs as they are today, you’ll be better equipped to weather the storm of uncertainty.
8. Be smart about PPC advertising.
It stands to reason that with more people at home, there are more Google searches going on — and some are turning to ecommerce for products they would have previously purchased in person
It makes sense to consider PPC if you’re not already doing it, especially if your store has items that are relevant to the change in our lives due to coronavirus (including things to entertain kids stuck at home) — but it won’t be right for every business.
Make sure to watch your data closely, and adjust your bidding strategy if necessary. If you see that certain times of day have much lower conversion rates, reduce your bids for those times to save money.
9. Find opportunities for a special offer.
Economic uncertainty, layoffs, and lost jobs may increase price sensitivity in some shoppers. Consider offering a special discount across your store or on specific items that may have higher demand. If consumer spending in your store is down, discounts could be a good way to draw shoppers back.
10. Create an undeniable loyalty program.
It’s been said numerous times in countless retail blogs that most retailers can bank on 80% of their future profits being generated from just 20% of their existing customers. The current times are no different, in fact, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that you’re recapturing your existing customers and encouraging their loyalty! This is where a powerful, data-driven loyalty program comes in. Customers are currently more active than ever online and rewarding them for shopping with you right from purchase #1 is the perfect way to keep them coming back.
By using a loyalty program that encourages your customers to repeatedly shop with you, you’re not only ensuring the longevity of your business, you’re also ensuring that your customers feel appreciated and valued. Promote customer satisfaction by creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for completing certain actions, like giving points when they first sign-up so customers are closer to redeeming their first reward, or even creating exclusive rewards that are only available in May to help re-engage your existing customers with your loyalty program.
Singapore-based lingerie retailer, Our Bralette Club, has mastered this with a generously comprehensive rewards program, the ‘OBC Peach Party’, that is sure to delight all of their customers. With VIP tiers and a wide variety of generous rewards, customers are able to claim and redeem rewards such as $5 off a purchase or a free tote bag with their order. Our Bralette Club is even offering a 20% off coupon code to encourage their customers to continue shopping online during the lockdown and beyond.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and even go COVID-19 specific with your rewards program, just make sure you’re keeping tabs on it! If you find that customers aren’t really redeeming your rewards, it could be a good opportunity to the communication of your loyalty program, edit your rewards, change up your emails, or even look at what other businesses are offering at this time.
Preparing Your Online Store for After Coronavirus
In addition to adjusting your current strategy, you’ll want to take steps to ensure quick recovery when we return to business as usual.
1. Prepare for building demand.
An article published on Entrepreneur.com suggests that, based on what’s happening in China, “the post-coronavirus economic recovery might be faster than we expect.”
Some verticals, particularly those that saw decreased sales during the pandemic, may see a huge resurgence in demand once consumers begin to return to everyday life. Make sure you’re prepared so you’re in a strong position to bounce back quickly.
2. Address technological shortfalls.
For brands who are seeing a slowdown, this is a great opportunity to evaluate your tech stack without worrying as much about disruptions.
Look closely at your ecommerce platform, integrations, and marketing to make sure you’re ready for the return of shopping as usual. Improving your site’s SEO, ensuring page speed, and optimizing your checkout experience are just a few of many beneficial ways you can spend your time to set yourself up for future success.
Source: Big commerce
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