April 22, 2020
With daily life restricted around the world due to COVID-19, eCommerce has become a critical lifeline for consumers to access goods and services. For businesses everywhere, digital commerce is now among the top priorities cited to adapt existing business models. Creating a winning eCommerce experience for these times involves evaluating your service strengths and limitations, then constructively applying those insights to where they’re needed most.
Developing an effective, forward-thinking business strategy starts with a solid understanding of your customers’ situation and needs. Spend some time conducting outreach to key customers where possible, reading customer feedback, and engaging with members of your team who have regular customer contact to get a sense of their situations. It’s also important to know the current state of your industry as overarching issues – supply-chain difficulties, for example – can trickle down, affecting your workflows and the customer experience. This intel can help you allocate workflow resources more efficiently and reduce waste.
As you take time to do this analysis, ask yourself what might be different for customers and members of your industry now vs. a few months prior, as well as what your customers’ new expectations might be and how you will meet them. Chart out the typical supply chain from manufacturing to delivery of goods – for both your organization and competitors – to identify places where their needs may not be met in the new environment.
In this time of uncertainty, customer engagement and marketing initiatives are more important than ever. Utilize your communications channels, such as your email lists and eCommerce site, to build strong relationships with your customers. Thoughtfully prepared marketing assets can build further on these connections, keeping your business top-of-mind in the communities you serve.
If you haven’t developed a social media strategy and/or presence, now is a great time to invest in this area. With so many people operating their work and personal lives digitally, social media has become an even more important channel for both businesses and people to find one another. If you have an established social media presence, analyze which campaigns or what types of posts are doing best in this environment so you can build momentum.
With waves of consumers sustaining their daily routines and essential needs online, web traffic is surging in unforeseen places across the eCommerce landscape. You’ll want to monitor your site metrics and sales trends for spikes in interest, especially those from new or unexpected audiences. If you see a marked increase in an area, target campaigns accordingly in order to capture a larger audience who may be searching for exactly your product or service (and maybe leverage some of that newly heightened social media presence mentioned above).
Disruptions to daily life mean modifying your existing operations to continue serving your customer base effectively. Consider bolstering or adding live chat features to your site so that shoppers who would normally ask questions in your store have an easy point of contact for fast inquiries. If you don’t already offer it via your site, work with your development and operations teams to offer curbside pickup for online sales. For customers looking for premium service, consider offering a range of expedited shipping options, even door-to-door delivery if it’s feasible for your business. Similarly, if your store has inventory at a physical location, consider whether you can turn those locations into shipping warehouses for online orders.
Now more than ever, clear information about your policies for shipping, fulfillment, and returns are a key piece of the sales journey for customers. Making sure these details are updated and easy to find will help customers manage their order expectations, plan accordingly, and order with confidence. Place information on shipping costs upfront in the order process (instead of surprising customers with shipping fees at the end) so that customers can factor this into their budgets. Make discounts and shipping promotions easy to find so customers can weigh the value as they plan their spend. Make sure any logistics or supply-chain interruptions are clearly communicated with customers.
Looking for more tips on what you can do to help your business succeed in the current environment? We recommend the following:
• Magento’s resource center on managing your commerce business through change
• Digital Commerce 360: How to Modify your eCommerce Strategy During the Coronavirus Crisis
• Magento Blog: Site Traffic Surges Towards Black Friday Levels