COVID-19 and online business
2020 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most eventful years ever documented.
The COVID-19 virus has swept across the planet, shutting businesses, economies and countries down. Online business however has benefitted largely, and consumer habits will likely never be the same again.
Not only has COVID-19 sped up the already significant shift to online shopping, but it appears that the changes in buying behaviour will be long lasting and makes e-commerce an absolutely essential business priority in both the short and long term.
Although it could be argued that the initial transition was due to necessity, it has become clear that shoppers are keeping their new buying habits. There was a 65% increase in online buying when the high street was closed due to government restrictions, and recent studies suggest that 42% of consumers will make more web-based purchases online when the COVID-19 situation has eased. Likewise, 75% of consumers intend to do their shopping online for Christmas, the most important shopping period in any year.
Ahead of the busy final quarter of the year, it means that companies and brands that have worked hard to enhance their e-commerce need to maintain any momentum built up in the lockdown period. However, it’s important to be aware that having products available to buy online isn’t necessarily enough to ensure custom.
Migrating to a predominantly online business is not achieved overnight – it requires intensive planning and a watertight retail model to ensure you and your products remain relevant amid any inevitable COVID-19 related disruption. When optimising e-commerce, a business should take care to not forget the basics; implement simple, effective measures to ensure there’s no disruption to high quality and reliable service that will have consumers returning for further business.
Future proof your business
In a very short timeframe, consumer patterns have completely altered the retail landscape, and there’s no sign of this changing. Companies and brands that have relied on physical stores in the past can no longer afford to ignore the prospect of a digital transformation.
COVID-19 may be an ideal opportunity for you to future proof your business. You can do this by setting your sights on more than just a straightforward shift online. A successful e-commerce strategy is not just about the volume of consumers, but by being a one stop shop for all of your customers’ shopping needs.
With the correct blend of reliability, convenience and personalisation you can rise above your rivals and create a long-lasting loyalty from your customer base.
Be more efficient than your rivals
As COVID-19 necessitates a move online for more and more companies and customers alike, e-commerce is expanding. The sector is now expected to account for a third of all retail buys across the globe within the next couple of years. This presents a huge opportunity for any businesses looking to make a jump to having a digital presence. However, this will also mean there is competition for the attention of shoppers due to extensive and always multiplying rivals and competition.
The use of data-driven strategies to locate and reach your target audience will go a long way to ensuring that you stand out against your rivals. But even bespoke marketing cannot overcome fundamental flaws like a poorly laid out website, inaccurate or outdated product information or a complicated and slow transaction process – slow loading purchases lead to a lot of aborted purchases. Ongoing and maximum efficiency is vital, and it is essential that your business or brand covers the essential cornerstones of providing a good online service.
As mentioned, speed is important to consumers. Functionality that makes completing a purchase quickly, such as simplified account creation, increased visibility of “buy it now” buttons and integration with payment tools, for example PayPal, will really lend your site credibility.
Accuracy is an important aspect that can be overlooked. It’s important to review and refresh product information perpetually. This minimises the risk of confusion due to out of date stock information, and most importantly avoids the possibility of customers being left disappointed if something is out of stock.
Ensuring that your website is accessible is also important. A user-friendly experience, real time order tracking and easily located historical purchases and a well-staffed online customer service is especially important in the current climate where there is a real opportunity to grow your customer base.
Make good use of customer data
The current circumstances are an ideal opportunity for you to fine tune your data collection and activation. Thankfully, this is not the daunting task that you may expect and making a start with harnessing your customer data isn’t too difficult. It can be divided into two distinct areas.
You need to use your existing assets. By making more of a move into the online arena, you may have already begun to amass useful data and you just need to know what to do with it. Transaction by transaction, you gain very valuable data about what customers buy, how often they buy, their preferred payment methods, their location and their incomplete purchases.
Once you have quantified your customer data, you can deliver your message and marketing via the correct channels. Social media platforms are particularly prevalent in this aspect, and social media marketing can help to drive traffic to your website. Here, it’s important to make the experience of visiting your channels a good experience for your customers. Ways you could do this include rewarding returning customers with special offers and curated product suggestions. This leaves them feeling valued and remembered and helps to build up elements of trust.
Preparation is the key difference between a positive response and reactive disorganisation. You’ll need a plan in place so you can adapt your existing practices to ensure your distribution process isn’t interrupted if COVID-19 puts a squeeze on your business via local restrictions. You may wish to create an internal crisis team to take charge and start planning for any potential disruption to avoid panic and begin problem solving.
If you’d like to optimise your digital marketing strategy, why not speak to Maxweb? We can help you to make positive steps during the COVID-19 situation and revolutionise the way you do business. Please call us on 0151 652 4777 or e-mail us via firstname.lastname@example.org for a discussion about how we can help your business today.
Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2020 in Latest News.