It has been a turbulent few weeks in the eCommerce landscape, and while social and online browsing is up, the majority of online merchants are seeing a significant decrease in conversions amidst the developing COVID-19 outbreak.
As the impact of Coronavirus spreads, businesses are likely realizing how much they have been using outside sales reps and call centers to process orders for customers and general B2B business. Companies that have been lagging behind or relying on travel and face-to-face communication are critically affected by the lack of clients too. Overall, they all see the importance of selling online and having an eCommerce website or sales channel.
Despite the turbulence, this is a great time to focus on ways to improve your online B2B and B2C sales channels. To help you navigate through these difficult times we wrote down the following ideas and suggestions. They include topics like social media engagement strategy during Coronavirus, optimizing your sales channels and paid advertising, the importance of clear communication, financing/payment options, shipping tools, and more.
To begin with, we highly recommend engaging with your audience on social media.
1. Social Media Considerations during COVID-19
How you engage with your audience in times of hardship truly reveals your nature, making this an appropriate time to engage with your fans and communicate your company philosophy and mission. With many teams working remotely and seeing reduced sales, why not take this opportunity to connect with your customers and build mutual support on your social marketing channels?
Customers are looking for support more than products – and social channels are a great way to engage your audience and start having more conversations.
According to research by GlobalWebIndex, as of April 1st, 2020, most Americans expect the disruption to continue for at least 2-3 months and expect to delay purchases of larger items for that time period, but across the board, they are spending more time on social media channels and online. The best takeaway from that, in regards to strategy for merchants, would be to take this time to engage with their customers, create live media and take it easy on the “buy now” call to action.
2. Optimize Your Sales Channels and Paid Advertising
Right now, customers are focused more on browsing their favorite social platforms instead of shopping on dedicated web stores. With appropriate advertising, you can make sure your brand remains top-of-mind for your most engaged customers. This would be a good time to change the goal from sales to email sign-ups, so that your business is positioned for the best possible restart once consumers are ready to spend money again.
Some integrations to consider between social platforms and your online store include:
- Facebook Shopping Ads
- Instagram Shopping Ads
- Twitter Shopping Ads
- Google Product Listing and Ads
- Bing Product Ads
Consider changing the cadence of your retargeting ads to be fewer impressions over a longer period of time, instead of hammering visitors with ads on their social channels for 2-3 days just because they were window shopping while working from home.
3. “We’re Still in Business and Shipping Orders” Messaging on Homepage
Establishing clear communication and assurance is key to your business these days since customers are unsure whether a business is fulfilling orders or have gone completely out of business.
Trust is critical for eCommerce. Let your shoppers know you are adapting your business as the economic, social, and logistical environment continues to change. We are recommending that our merchants clearly communicate any critical updates about their business above the fold on their homepages. Even if you aren’t experiencing any issues, your customers may not know! Set expectations around shipping timelines or any other issues that may affect their shopping experience.
4. Payment and Financing Options
Building trust with your online shoppers is key. Amazon Pay offers an industry-leading checkout solution that pulls address and payment information directly from your shopper’s Amazon account. Not only does this create a more streamlined checkout process for new customers, but it also integrates with Alexa devices for shipment and delivery notifications.
Some shoppers are experiencing reduced income and discretionary spending. For merchants with high-value items, it may benefit you to consider offering an easy way to finance purchases at checkout. These services pay the merchant up-front, but offer shoppers flexible payment options so they can spread the cost over a period of time. Online financing is a feature that has been growing in value before 2020, and now it is more valuable than ever. Shero Commerce’s preferred solution for eCommerce Checkout financing is Klarna Payments:
5. Engage Multiple Shipping Carriers
With growing uncertainty about shipping providers, merchants should consider engaging with multiple shipping carriers to ensure that fulfillment can continue running smoothly in the coming weeks and months. In the case that your ‘primary’ carrier experiences logistical issues, merchants may need the option to fulfill via other providers to meet customer expectations.
6. Invest in a Branded Store for Amazon Sellers
If you are selling on Amazon but don’t have an eCommerce website, this would be the right time to look at Amazon Branded Stores. Amazon and Magento are partnering to create a true integration between the world’s largest online marketplace and a world-class eCommerce platform that can be adapted for any eCommerce business. While managing two separate sales channels can create new value for many online retailers, it typically comes with a whole new set of logistical and operational challenges to solve for. Amazon Branded Store integrations help minimize operational changes for merchants.
Opportunities for Branded Stores
- Expand into a new sales channel with additional customer reach/visibility
- Capture valuable customer data for future marketing and product line development
- Alexa Voice Integration and custom functionality for your eCommerce store
- Minimize overhead by streamlining reporting, data, pricing, and inventory management
- Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfilment (MCF) is an excellent option to gain access to Amazon’s fulfillment infrastructure and relieve stress on internal fulfillment teams.
7. Use Offline2On.com For Low Cost and Quick to Market eCommerce Websites and Advice
When Coronavirus hit, many merchants who didn’t have an online store at all were forced to completely shut down their operations. These merchants were retailers, B2B businesses who have been relying on outside sales reps, restaurants, or merchants like retail stores where face-to-face communication was the main sales channel.
Seeing the impact of Coronavirus is having on them, eCommerce agencies and developers from around the world got together to help merchants build an online store on the fly or provide them with valuable advice and free consulting. This initiative was started by Karen Baker of ShipperHQ and is made of a number of agencies that have available staff and single developers. Their main goal is to help merchants in need. You can visit offline2on.com for more information about the different services offered to get you online fast.
The global and national impacts of the COVID 19 are pretty clearly visible at this point, but many businesses and individuals still don’t know the effect Coronavirus will have on their financial situations. We hope that the suggestions are helpful during these difficult times and provide food for thought to improve your eCommerce sales.
- The COVID-19 eCommerce Impact Data Hub
- Forter Report on Covid-19 Impact on Fraud and Consumer Behaviour
- How COVID-19 is Impacting Online Shopping Behavior | Adobe Blog
- The Impact Of COVID-19 On U.S. Brands And Retailers
- The Impact of COVID-19 on eCommerce Paid Media
- New Essentials Drive Our New Normal | Coronavirus Series