We live in different times than we did only a few short weeks ago. The Coronavirus pandemic forced all of us to change how we do things drastically. From the way we interact with our loved ones to how we conduct business, we had to adapt.
Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to consumer behavior. But these changes also provide new opportunities for e-commerce business owners. These essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic will help you attract and retain loyal consumers.
A lot of you are worried about the economy, worried about sales, and worried about how to pay your employees. At the same time, your expenses continue to build up. So how can you get through this time and come out the other end even stronger?
As a top e-commerce design company, we have helped a lot of clients adapt to the changing environment created by this pandemic. We’ll go over 33 essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic. These tips will help grow your e-commerce business and remain stable through these uncertain times, bringing you out stronger in the end.
The Coronavirus pandemic, and the economic climate of most businesses globally, are currently two extreme unknowns. Not only is this pandemic affecting our lives, but it’s devastating business, income, and job stability. While it can be difficult to find positives in this situation, there is a silver lining—and it’s in e-commerce.
As shopping turns completely digital, consumer behavior is changing before our eyes. Businesses that have already been selling in the digital space have got a great head-start on this. If you were thinking about throwing in the towel, don’t lose hope just yet. There are many ways you can create a digital strategy for the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Coronavirus outbreak continues to limit the amount of “brick and mortar” shopping people around the world can (or want to) do. More and more customers are turning to e-commerce as a solution to get the items they need and want.
But that’s turning out to be both a blessing and a curse for some online businesses. These 33 essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic will show you how to benefit from that.
As an e-commerce business owner, you can take a proactive approach and help guide online customers, both new and existing. The capacity to be flexible and adapt is a good starting point, regardless of whether you are making large or small-scale changes.
01 – Keep Customers Informed
The first of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to keep potential and existing customers informed. If there are any significant changes in the way you conduct business, let your customers know.
The more information you provide them, the more likely they will continue purchasing from you. Tell them if you have plenty of stock. Let them know if you’re running low on certain items. If your order fulfillment or shipping times have been affected, keep them informed.
Many customers also don’t realize if businesses are still operating as usual. Be vocal about this. If you’re working as usual – make it known. Be sure to update your website. Be sure to refresh your home page, your product pages, your social media pages – anywhere and everywhere that your customers will be looking.
02 – Be Emphatic
One of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to connect with your customers. In these potentially isolating times, a warm, friendly customer service experience can make someone’s day. Go the extra mile, and it could instill customer loyalty that can last a lifetime.
03 – Do Your Research
It is essential to do your research and make sure you’re meeting all published requirements for the claims you’re making. For example, most countries have legal requirements for claiming a cleaning product is effective against killing coronavirus (or any other germ).
Numerous countries also require specific disclaimers for wellness products that claim to boost the immune system or other health aspects. Not doing this could lead to significant legal problems down the road.
04 – Get Personal
Another of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to get personal. Many shoppers enjoy the personal touch that a brick-and-mortar outlet can offer, including excellent customer service, insightful advice, and someone who cares.
In the absence of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail, you must try and provide this in the online arena. Don’t position yourself as a faceless website where it’s impossible to get through to anyone. Prove that you’re open for business and ready to help.
05 – Organize Your Store and Products
Another of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to evaluate your e-commerce site thoroughly. Update your online store and product descriptions, optimize your content, write the blog posts you never get around to writing.
Organize your inventory, tidy your storage room or warehouse, get yourself organized. You will be so much more efficient and ready to continue business when this is all over.
06 – Keep Products Up to Date
One of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to ensure your product data is always up to date. Are the products in stock and available for immediate shipping or delivery? If not, is more stock on the way, and if so, when? Are you experiencing extended production or delivery times, and other related info?
Make use of the capacity of your PIM system to set up new product categories or groups quickly. By doing so, you ensure that product information always remains relevant to the most current searches.
07 – Keep Content Up to Date
Use your CMS system to produce relevant and up-to-date content continually. Things develop rapidly: for example when authorities issue new instructions that impact your daily activities and that require notification of your customers. Why not use “breaking news” banners for extra visibility and impact in your store?
08 – Limit Hard to Get Items
Another of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to make sure there is enough for everyone! In many parts of the world, toilet paper became a much thought-after item. Face masks were almost impossible to get. You may want to consider limiting purchase quantities of items that will be in high demand so that everyone has a chance to get some.
09 – Offer Digital Downloads and Virtual Products
Consider offering free or low-cost digital products. Digital downloads can range from educational activities for kids and adults alike related to your product line, digital content, and lighthearted entertainment from your team, and more.
10 – Promote Digital Downloads
If you sell digital downloads, particularly entertainment, educational or informational-related ones, these products could be prime for some extra promotion. Not only do they not require shipping, but you’ll also be able to help keep the many people who are home with kids out of school sane (and therefore loyal to your brand).
11 – Offer Gift Cards
Another of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to offer gift cards or prepaid product offerings. Gift cards will help with additional cash flow. People are willing to help in a time like this. You just need to educate them, so they know how they can help.
If items that people will still need once everything returns to normal are not in stock, consider selling or promoting gift cards or prepaid options. By doing so, you can generate additional revenue streams even as other orders go down and give you opportunities to build long-term relationships with your consumers.
12 – Donate to Charities
Consider donating a percentage of proceeds to a charity or cause if you have a high-margin item, and you want to see some additional cash flow coming through your business. During these times, where people are hurting, these will go a long way. If you can help others in need and give back, be sure to help your community.
13 – Reassure Consumers
Another of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to reassure your consumers. Inform your customers about what precautions you are taking to keep your staff safe. Be sure to let them know that the products you are delivering to your customers are safe to receive.
14 – Inspire Confidence
This crisis is an uncertain time, and customers may be reluctant to place orders for non-essential items. Therefore, it has never been more critical to use trust messaging. Configure your site in a way to instill confidence and trust that their purchases will be stress-free and safe.
15 – Don’t Gouge
We should not even have to mention this as part of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic! Price gouging is rarely a right or ethical strategy. Trying to profit from an already tense situation — beyond your standard margins — could end up “costing” you more than any extra profit you realize. There are also reports of online sellers getting in legal hot water over attempts to raise prices unfairly.
16 – Don’t Be Gimmicky
One of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to be authentic. Use caution when promoting coronavirus-related “sales” or “specials.” There is nothing wrong with making products that customers are more likely to need now more prominent and accessible. Still, gimmicks with references to the virus and disease are rarely a good idea.
17 – Promote Value
That said, less “virus”-y related marketing campaigns — with headlines that reference “staying busy,” for example, can be a great way to help customers. You can help them find fun products you sell that they might not have thought of as a way to help fill the time.
18 – Extend Your Return Deadlines
If you accept returns, keep in mind that there could be longer return shipping times, so it may be a good idea to relax timelines a little now. Promote comfort in the knowledge that your customers have more time to return orders should they need.
19 – Offer Free Returns
One of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to offer free returns. Free returns will provide additional customer confidence in your brand. The knowledge they can quickly return their orders without incurring fees will help mimic the bricks-and-mortar retail experience in the short term.
20 – Offer Financing
Unemployment in the US has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression, and they may even increase. Disposable income may decrease for many people in the short term. The current economic situation is an excellent opportunity to be compassionate and helpful.
With many people finding themselves out of work, adding a financing option could be a good idea to consider. Having flexible payment options will help customers to spread the cost and balance their books a little in the interim.
21 – Waive Shipping Minimums
Consider waiving shipping minimums if you sell products that are either going to be in higher demand but are unlikely to meet the minimum requirement. Such products include health and cleaning supplies or things to keep people entertained and busy while hunkering down at home. Of course, you’ll want to make sure this makes sense financially, but you may be able to make up slightly lower margins on volume.
22 – Check Shipping Options and Availability
Keep in mind that shipping times may be delayed for any number of reasons and will very likely fluctuate over the coming weeks given shifts in capacity, staffing, and local restrictions. Restrictions are likely to be even more true for international shipping, especially in countries heavily hit by the virus. Check with your shipping carriers frequently as situations are very fluid.
23 – Update Your Terms and Conditions
Review and update your terms and conditions and other policies to cover the “new normal” of life under coronavirus. You may want to remove any shipping guarantees as well as include an “acts of God” exception to policies per your legal adviser’s advice.
24 – Add New Functionality
Another of our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic is to look at the functionality of your online store. Are you providing the best possible user experience? This time is an excellent opportunity to add new services and functionality.
25 – Be Creative
Think creatively, and for the longer term, consider the latest technology. With virtual reality, apps, image recognition, and voice functions, you can make online shopping simpler and provide enhanced advice and inspiration remotely.
26 – Utilize Email Marketing
Email marketing is still a potent tool that helps reach your customers. Keep your customers updated with products that you sell, continue to send them information, mention the gift cards, charities, and givebacks. Let them know that you’re still here. And email is a great way to do this.
27 – Livestream on Social Media
With the day and age we live in right now, people rely on their phones. They’re always on social media and checking up on the news. Get in front of them, do a live stream, be positive. Do a demo on your products, a Livestream about how your products, or a Q & A session. Get creative. Just do something to get in front of your customers and followers. Remind them that you’re there and keep interacting with them.
28 – Collaborate with Others
Sometimes it works better if there is more than one of you! If you’re out of certain products or don’t carry specific high-demand ones and know another e-commerce entrepreneur who does, consider giving them a “courtesy” link. Be sure to let them know and ask them to return the favor. You may start a partnership that will last well beyond the current crisis.
29 – Ask for Support
If you need support and you have loyal customers, be transparent about it. Encourage your loyal customers to make those purchases now to continue supporting your business. In turn, you can still be around to offer them your goods and services after all of this. You need to be open and honest with them. Let them know that you need help. Many people don’t realize how business owners are struggling right now. If you’re transparent with your customers, they’re more likely to help you out.
30 – Ask for Reviews & Testimonials
Now is a great time to ask for those reviews and testimonials. Your customers are sitting at home, and a lot of them don’t have much to do. Why not engage with them? Offer them a small discount or make a competition out of it to incentivize customers to take part.
31 – Use Alternative Messaging Options
Some businesses are sending out email blasts listing the changes they are making. Many consumers are quickly getting tired of seeing these messages and just deleting them. A good alternative is to create a FAQ page with an announcement banner or post such information on social media.
32 – Don’t Forget Your Own Needs
Keep in mind that if you find running your store is too challenging or next to impossible, there is always the option to close down for a few weeks temporarily. For some stores, there might not be a choice due to local regulations or inventory issues.
33 – Have a Positive Mindset
Above all, stay positive! We are all in the same boat. Don’t forget that. No crisis ever lasted forever (but some felt like they did!) We will get through this.
Implementing our essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic will require you to adjust your marketing campaigns. Considering the economic environment, appearing greedy is an immediate turn-off to potential buyers.
Your marketing strategies need to look empathetic to this global struggle. To start, you need to change your positioning, your company goals, and your communication tactics.
Change Your Positioning
Changing your position is an essential way to add value to your company. You’re more likely to build and maintain the trust necessary to keep purchases steady for your business when you communicate your eagerness to help consumers in this trying time.
This change could mean updating the message on your homepage, sending an email addressing how you’re adjusting to these circumstances, and including your most important offerings during the pandemic across all touchpoints.
Position Yourself for New Opportunities
The opportunities to maintain and even exceed your business goals still feasible exist. To succeed means to understand that consumer behavior is changing. Pay close attention to how your customers are changing, and be creative in how you can deliver more value without huge costs. If there’s anything I can advise, it’s to prioritize your marketing efforts now more than ever.
Different Product Categories
With lockdowns and social distancing measures in effect in many places, there are a few different categories of e-commerce products you need to know.
These are your essential home goods: such as food, canned goods, water, toilet, paper, toiletries. Those items are flying off the shelves. Since people aren’t going to the stores themselves, or these items have been hoarded and are no longer available in stores, people are looking online to purchase these goods online.
Non-essential But Useful Items
These are items that are not necessarily needed but are still very helpful during times of quarantine, including workout equipment, home office equipment like stand-up desks. Software that makes it easier to work remotely, and board or other games to pass the time also fall into this category.
These are your everyday goods but aren’t necessarily needing to be purchased during quarantine: such as clothes, jewelry, makeup, fashion items. During this time of instability, people are holding back on their spending habits.
Anticipate an Increase in Mobile Search Traffic
If your e-commerce site is not useful and does not provide the best possible e-commerce user-experience, now is the time to remedy that. Try and fill that gap quickly. Remember that speed, efficiency, and user experience are essential if you want to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase your online conversions.
Protect Your Online Reputation
Your reputation is essential, especially during such a sensitive time. Social media has much power to discredit your business for any markups or malpractices you may conduct. On Twitter, the trending hashtag, #pricegouging, serves as a hub for sharing companies that handle COVID-19 selfishly.
One thing to remember is that we’re all in this together. And to keep a good economy going, we must help each other. We must support small businesses in our communities to keep our local economies going. You are not alone in this effort. We are here to help!
Of course, we would be happy to implement any or all of these 32 essential e-commerce tips for the Coronavirus pandemic. We are experts at carefully crafting custom mobile-first websites and e-commerce solutions to meet (almost) any budget.
Our team works directly with the client to prepare them for the ever increasingly social, mobile, and local consumers and increase e-commerce sales. Why not get started by requesting your free estimate?
And if you are still not sure exactly how these essential e-commerce tips will benefit your visitors during this challenging time, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you and answer any questions.
We want to determine the best way for your e-commerce site to become a trusted and valuable resource. That is one of our specialties, after all!
Let us know which tip was most valuable to you, and if you have any other suggestions. Let’s keep adding to the list to help business owners around the world through these tough times. Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well.
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By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO