The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reshaped modern society. With many physical businesses forced to close temporarily, e-commerce is more viable than ever. Research published in early March showed many people would avoid physical stores if COVID-19 worsened. Many essential outlets remain open, but customers prefer to shop online if possible.
You can take advantage of this increased demand as an e-commerce provider. Here are 11 options to consider:
1. Provide Contact-Free Deliveries
Since the coronavirus spreads through human closeness, many companies are now offering contactless delivery options. Although most require consumers to specify they want one, some companies make all deliveries contact-free by default.
Consider adding a dedicated section to your e-commerce site explaining what people should do if they want such deliveries. Providing such forward-thinking information shows you want to keep everyone safe and well.
2. Take a Customer-Centric Approach
One of the difficulties surrounding the COVID-19 crisis is that it throws so much into uncertainty. People love the 24/7 convenience online shopping gives them. Do everything in your power to keep focusing on customer needs during the coronavirus crisis.
Offering a quick-reorder feature lets buyers stay stocked up on the essentials they often purchase. A “suggested products” site component makes it easier for them to find similar items they might need anyway.
This is a stressful time for people around the world. Let consumers know you recognize the pressure they’re under and want to make things easier when possible.
3. Offer an Assortment of Free Content
Many people now find themselves stuck at home with more time on their hands. Some brands are catering to that by giving them free content. Audible is doing this with a library of children’s stories anyone can stream without signing up for an account. Also, GOG.com, which sells access to online games, published a collection of complimentary titles on a specialized landing page. The brand points out how gameplay is a good way to relax while staying at home.
If your business model suits it, give your customers content to help them stay occupied. When they notice the high quality of your frrebies, they may decide to purchase your paid content more often.
4. Tweak Email Campaigns to Reflect the Current Situation
The coronavirus pandemic is causing unprecedented changes around the world. Your email marketing efforts must reflect that reality. Remember that people are anxious and feeling the effects of this crisis in various ways. Adjust your language to reflect the sensitivity of the situation. Steer clear of off-color humor, but be open to taking a positive, caring tone.
Also, don’t use the coronavirus as a re-engagement opportunity. It could be jarring and frustrating if a person receives a COVID-19 email from a company they placed a single order with over a decade ago and hadn’t heard from since.
5. Simplify the Site Registration Process
Social distancing guidelines require individuals to abide by unfamiliar processes when shopping in physical stores. Some outlets only allow 50 shoppers inside at a time and have security personnel monitoring the traffic flow. Additionally, many countries are strongly advising or ordering older individuals not to leave home at all, since they are at a heightened risk for COVID-19 complications.
These things collectively mean that some people who would not ordinarily turn to online shopping are doing so now. Be aware of that change and consider making the process as smooth as possible for those registering at your site.
Only ask for the information you need, and implement a visual cue — such as a green checkmark — to confirm that someone entered details in the proper format. Also, think about letting people order items as a guest. That option enables efficient purchasing and reduces the likelihood of cart abandonment.
6. Invest in Custom-Printed Shipping Boxes
The packaging for a product sold online can be almost as important as the item itself because it shapes the customer experience. Custom-printed boxes create an immediate and personal connection to the customer while fostering brand recognition. You can also add a logo to shipping materials to differentiate your brand from its competitors.
Custom-printed packaging can also give people a welcome bit of cheer when they see the boxes on their doorsteps. Phrases like, “We appreciate your business! Stay safe!” in a brightly colored font could lift the recipient’s mood in these tough times.
7. Add a Site Banner to Confirm You’re Open
Many government leaders decided that “essential” businesses can stay open. That vague description left many people wondering if the brands they buy from are operating. Remove doubt by putting a banner at the top of your site informing readers you are still open, and make sure it includes anything else they need to know.
You might say, “COVID-19 Update: We are operating normally but appreciate your patience regarding possible shipping delays during this time of heightened demand.” If you have both online and physical locations with different operating procedures for each group, consider publishing a page to break down the details. Nespresso did that in their United Kingdom and Ireland markets to reduce confusion.
8. Remind People How to Get in Touch
Many e-commerce call center employees are working remotely, and customer wait times are longer than usual. Keep customers in the loop by letting them know how to connect with your company. CVS Pharmacy provides several options for individuals to use, including topic-specific contact forms.
Assure people that support is still available, but it may be different in these challenging times. Consider requesting that they show more forgiveness. A recorded message used by Ally Bank tells callers that all support staff members are working from home and asks for understanding if a person hears a crying child or barking dog in the background.
9. Offer Discounts for Shoppers Who Want Ongoing Shipments
Amazon is one of many e-commerce retailers that lets people save money by signing up for things they buy repeatedly. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult for individuals to get some essentials. You can alleviate that stress by setting aside enough stock to accommodate those who sign up for periodic deliveries.
Whether you sell diapers, prepared dinners or diabetic testing supplies, streamline the process of people receiving the items they can’t or don’t want to do without. Offer the option for them to cancel the subscription or skip a delivery at any time, too.
10. Edit Your Site Copy to Clarify Specifics and Avoid Incorrect Assumptions
Companies must now be exceptionally careful to avoid making misleading medical claims on their e-commerce sites. Etsy recently began taking more decisive options to remove listings that don’t abide by the site’s policies, for example.
If you sell any products a person may buy for coronavirus prevention — such as masks — clearly state if the items are or are not medical-grade goods. Doing this builds essential trustworthiness and simplifies the product evaluation process for the consumer.
11. Boost Your Online Ad Spend
Klaviyo is a customer analytics company collecting insights from e-commerce companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of its findings was that 22% of companies are spending more on ads. The brands most likely to do that are those selling essentials like foods and office supplies or niche non-essential products like religious goods and cannabidiol (CBD) products.
Evaluate whether increased ad spending could help your e-commerce company meet its goals. Ponder the benefits of making the ad copy reflect perks people want, such as free shipping or loyalty discounts.
Succeed During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Although COVID-19 brings a lot of uncertainty, you can increase the chances of resiliency for your e-commerce store. Get started with these 11 practical suggestions.
Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.