On the surface, one would assume that ecommerce companies are flourishing during the pandemic due to the increase in online sales and the recommendation to practice social distancing, which includes spending more time at home, rather than in stores and malls. Under that same surface, however, ecommerce companies are struggling. Competition is increasing at the same rate as the demand for online stores, and thus more brands are building their own ecommerce websites in an attempt to stay relevant and keep their business going.
For existing ecommerce companies, that means more smaller players to compete with, as well as larger companies investing more resources into elevating their online presence and their processes. What, then, can you do to keep your ecommerce business afloat, and perhaps even grow during the pandemic? Here are a few ideas you should consider and hopefully, allow them to take your brand forward in the months to come.
Transparent communication is a must
Have you been experiencing a shortage of certain products? Have your shipping policies changed in the past few months since the pandemic started? What about your shipping prices? Most ecommerce companies have had to adjust their strategy because the pandemic has affected their processes one way or another. While making those adjustments is essential, it’s equally important to adjust your customer support strategy and communicate those changes honestly and openly with your customers and potential buyers.
For many ecommerce companies, there will be delivery delays, as well as changes in how you handle order cancellations, international shipping, and the like. Make sure you send out email notifications, and make it clear on your site what kind of changes you’re introducing. This transparency will help with customer retention and it will inspire trust in new customers that come to your site.
Keep up with the demand
In some industries, the pandemic has caused a huge surge in demand for various products, leading to an issue with supply, rather than demand. The pandemic has changed how people shop, but you need to be prepared to meet the changing demand in your market and to do so, your ecommerce business can leverage digital tools to automate processes and streamline communication.
For example, more ecommerce companies are using comprehensive manufacturing software to keep track of orders, recognize demand increases, and manage the supply chain from start to finish. With an overarching system to unify your operations, you can recognize spikes in demand and increase your production capacity and manufacturing accordingly.
Leverage customer loyalty
Research has shown that 75% of US customers have already changed brands during the pandemic, be it out of curiosity, greater ecommerce availability, or because their favorite brands have no more products in stock. Loyalty in times of crisis is a fickle thing, especially when a brand doesn’t deliver on its promise.
If you want to boost customer retention, which you already know is a far more financially prudent and stable way of building up your revenue, you should leverage loyalty while it’s still there, so to speak. Make sure your customers know that their favorite products are available, that you’ll ship them at competitive prices, or that they can subscribe for specific services on your site. Show them that you value their business and provide them with ample opportunities to stay informed on your brand and what you can do to make these hard times a little easier for them.
Keep an eye on recent trends
Have some of your products become more popular due to the pandemic? Do you have leftover stock of certain products that you need to sell, especially if they have expiration dates? First of all, you need to make those products more prominent in your ads, your social media pages, and your homepage. Send out email alerts to notify your customers you have them in stock.
Based on purchase trends and browsing preferences, you can cross-sell and up-sell products more efficiently. That way, you’ll not just be able to move your products more quickly, but also keep your customers interested and ensure a customized experience for each shop visitor.
Optimization has never been more vital
Technical difficulties, poor keyword implementation, slow loading pages, and other issues on your site should be a thing of the past. With surges in website visits and purchases, you really can’t afford to make mistakes or the competition will simply snap up your customers. Your strategy needs to entail various issue-resolution protocols to mitigate risk and damage, but you also need to regularly conduct performance tests to make sure your site works seamlessly throughout the customer journey, at every touchpoint.
Investing in local SEO has already become a priority in highly competitive regions like Australia where online commerce has boomed. Companies wading into the ecommerce market simply have to rely on local SEO agencies from Sydney and other large cities in order to ensure they target specific markets or demographics properly.
Now that customers can hop over to your competitor’s site in a matter of seconds, you need to give them all the reason to stay on your site and continue with their purchase. Mobile optimization, seamless loading, effortless browsing, and easy navigation remain the pillars of effective ecommerce stores. Make sure that your ecommerce store fits the description, and most of all, that you keep an eye on your store’s performance to adapt at any given time.
Although ecommerce is growing in popularity and more companies are kick-starting their own online sales trying to survive during the pandemic, success during these trying times requires more than for your store to exist. You should focus on improving your strategy, listening to your audience, and leveraging various tools to automate as many tasks as you can. That way, you’ll give your ecommerce business a better chance to come out as a winner during and after the pandemic, which will then empower you to remain a household name in the eyes of your target audience.