The COVID-19 pandemic really kept people indoors way too long while leaving the businesses gasping for breath to survive. But, there is a silver line of hope even in this trying time. The pandemic and the resulting compulsions actually made people change their shopping habits resulting in increased sales from the e-commerce stores while the brick and mortar stores kept shut.
Yes, to the surprise of many of us the sales for the inline stores experienced a whopping 50% increase this year compared to the same months last year. On the other hand, an increasing number of eCommerce stores are complaIning about the rising supply chain issues. All in all, in spite of the flickering lights of hope here and there, businesses as a whole are not passing through a very good time and this cannot be totally different for online stores.
So, already e-commerce stores around the world are considering new strategies and methods to come out as victors of growth beating the tough challenges thrown by the pandemic.
Consistency In Delivering Brand Loyalty
It is well known to the store owners that existing customers are easier targets as they tend to convert easily than new customers. This is why boosting brand loyalty and retargeting existing customers is so important and a strategy for the web stores around the globe.
Let us point out some of the most effective ways to increase brand loyalty during the pandemic.
- Ensure giving highly proactive and customised customer service across multiple channels such as web store, social media pages, email, chat and messaging apps and phone.
- Make sure your support team is expert and trained enough to handle customer queries in times of delay of delivery.
- Make sure your customer support team is transparent in communication and help customers by setting expectations of a delayed delivery in case the delay cannot be avoided.
- In case delivery is restricted in certain pin codes, make your customers informed about the government regulations and the latest updates about the situation.
- Utilise emails or in-app messages to keep a lively contact and know how the customers are doing.
- Deliver several popular add-on services like extended warranty and additional time for insurance coverage due to the crisis.
- Make sure you create content that is helpful for the customers and are relevant to their uses and preferences.
- Create communication strategy and make offers for the customers that shows you are seriously trying to address their difficulties.
Be Cool, Continue Doing Business and Use Incentives
Many products across online stores that are outright non-essential and luxurious in character, especially in such trying times are actually facing the biggest difficulty in getting customers onboard and keeping business growing. Products like grooming materials, luxury apparel and accessories, fitness materials and several other niches are particularly facing persistent slowdown since the lockdown became the routine.
Should you wait for the lockdown to get over before you actually get your sales back again? No, such a thought would be even more disastrous for the entire business and would be particularly ruining for your business brand. Instead, just stay cool about the situation and understand that like many earlier crises this too would pass and eventually businesses will get back on their feet.
But till the situation gets normal, keep targeting customers proactively and creatively to stay relevant even in such a situation. Remember, any marketing campaign and customer targeting effort should contextualise the present situation creatively. Your luxury goods can also be shown in bright lights only to make customers realise the lighter side of life even in such dark times they are passing through.
While presenting your brand with a value proposition to make them feel nostalgic and sensitive, luxury brands also can incentivise their business strategy to achieve better growth. Incentives when used creatively at least can help them win back some part of their lost businesses irrespective of the situation.
Don't Forget To Utilise The Latest Trends In The Full Swing
In such a trying time eCommerce businesses should keep their eyes and ears wide open and grab the market trends when they are ripe and reshape their business strategy as per this trend to achieve optimum growth.
Let us mention here some of the common trends in the customer behaviour that e-commerce stores should address with their Covid-19 combat strategy.
- The sales of nutrition products experienced a huge growth in the past few months compared to the same period last year.
- The sales of the apparel and accessories increased almost by 96% in this same period compared to the last year.
- The stores selling food and beverages have also experienced around 16% increase in sales in the recent months compared to the same time in the previous year.
- Quite expectedly, webcams experienced a whopping 458% rise in sales in the month of March 2020 alone. It has been largely possible due to the increased video communication of home-stuck people and the online classes conducted using the webcams.
- The sales of shaving and grooming gear also rose by 241% only in just the last week of March, when the lockdown measures were picking up around the world.
- In the same week of March the sales of gaming equipment experienced a huge increase which is around 338% compared to the sales of the same period in the last year.
If you are a multi-brand e-commerce store accommodating all categories of products across the categories, these statistics and market stats are enough to tell you about the priorities you need to give to certain products that home-locked users are more likely to prefer.
Bid Adieu To The Issues In Your Supply Chain
As the restrictions on movement of people and vehicles has literally paralysed many cities around the world, the supply chain management for the e-commerce stores, especially their last-mile delivery of goods are suffering tremendously. While this is inevitable to a great extent, some of the effective measures to subvert these challenges include the following.
- Communicate with your manufacturers and get a clear idea about the stock and how they are going to respond to the situation. Accordingly make a plan to procure products in advance.
- Have some backup suppliers ready to fill in the void created by your regular supplier. Make sure you can develop a consistent relationship with your suppliers so that in case of prolonged lockdown you continue getting supplies from them. The popularity of multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace can explain this.
- Build a pile of stocks of most essential items and high-demand items such as sanitisers and masks.
- Just like backup suppliers, also keep alternative logistics providers ready to help you reach customers with the products in their doorstep.
Make The Presence of Your Brand Across Multiple Channels
Online sales channel is not just the web store but it also refers to the multiple channels like social media channel, Google and other third-party multi-brand platforms. When you can't generate enough sales to make growth possible, embracing a multi-channel sales strategy is quite obvious.
- Amazon as the most popular global marketplace helps any brand to make a robust presence and directly reach customers all over the globe or any particular region.
- Facebook is increasingly becoming the most popular social business platform for brands of all types to interact directly with customers and make sales.
- For subscription based services platforms like Cratejoy can be a great choice.
- Google Shopping allows you to reach out to the audience just by bidding as the ad of a product or service. Though the approach is a little different here, it must feature in your multi-channel strategy.
- Apart from all these there are several websites featuring daily deals from many brands. The sites like Groupon can help you target an audience with daily discounts or promotional deals.
Review The Customer Experience
Since customers are at the very receiving end of all the turmoil and the panicked situation, your new strategies should also consider the pains of the customers first. This is why it is important for your business to evaluate the customer experience of your store.
Here are some time tested measures to review your customer experience.
- Carry out online customer surveys about their shopping experience and experience corresponding to the brand interaction. Ask how your brand really helped them in getting what they need and what is their impression about the brand’s response to the crisis.
- Just ask customers how likely they are to recommend your store or the products to their near and dear ones. Let them mark their chances of re I'm ending your brand on a score sheet.
- Evaluate the inline reviews of your customers about your products, services and the shopping experience.
- Make sure you listen to the social media conversation about your brand frequently to check what kind of opinion customers are having privately about your brand.
The times following the pandemic have been one of the most challenging in the modern history of the entire race. But that cannot put a standstill to life and the living wants and cravings. Naturally, people will always reach out to businesses for their needs and as an e-commerce store you just need to make it easier for them to reach out to your store and purchase things.
Author Bio: Manev Dave is the senior developer at CMARIX TechnoLabs Pvt. Ltd., a leading eCommerce development company with 8+ years of experience. He loves to write about eCommerce technology, startups, entrepreneurship, and business. His creative abilities, academic track record, and leadership skills made him one of the key industry influencers as well.