The current pandemic has plunged many e-commerce businesses into the deep end. Supply and demand curves in 2020 have zig-zagged in so many directions, forcing companies to work tirelessly in response to changing policies while trying to maintain operations in a compliant and customer-centric manner.
Some organisations have had to entirely reinvent themselves to continue making sales, while others have struggled to meet demand due to travel restrictions and hold-ups with stock deliveries. If you’re struggling to navigate through these turbulent times, we have a few tips to help your e-commerce business cope with the mounting pressure.
1. Online presence
If your business previously relied on a mix of online and physical store sales, your focus should now be on optimising the functionality of your online platforms to accommodate more traffic and create better customer experiences (CX) for e-shoppers.
Some countries report a 40% increase in e-commerce revenue as a result of the pandemic, highlighting the importance of having an enhanced online presence. This could mean ensuring that your product catalogues are up to date, good quality images are on display and in-depth content is available to customers. Also, be sure to ramp up activity on your social media channels to keep the public involved and informed on all things regarding your company's initiatives to manage and meet demand.
2. Shift your product
Your customer's priorities have changed, and this may be impacting demand for certain product lines. Where possible, you should look at your stock range to see if certain items can be brought to the forefront. Alternatively, are you able to source and sell products that are currently high in demand? Can you promote your loungewear clothing range? Have you got household and personal hygiene products that could play a part in a new ad campaign? Diversifying your offering and highlighting the benefits for buyers is a great way to boost sales and ensure you're serving the needs of your customers.
3. Talk to your suppliers
Your suppliers are businesses, too; they're either overwhelmed with demand from other online retailers who are also seeing a spike in sales, or they're struggling to move inventory. Whichever end of the spectrum they're at, you need to open the communication channels to ensure that any disruption to your supply chain is minimised.
Alternatively, you may be in a better position to negotiate discounts or an upgraded service at this time. If stock shortages look likely, you should start exploring alternative suppliers immediately. Not forgetting, of course, that you'll have to keep your customers well informed of any wait times or changes to the product they receive.
4. Adjust your marketing message
COVID-19 has brought out new challenges and sensitivities for customers. Businesses who run with tone-deaf campaigns at this time will find it hard to reconnect with audiences in the future. Be sure to check all of your advertising and content for anything that may not align with the current concerns of your audience.
Tailoring your marketing message to show compassion, support, and solidarity with individuals affected by the pandemic will help your business to remain in good stead with valued customers. Find ways of offering practical help to clients and getting a deeper insight into their needs at the moment.
5. Adapt your delivery and returns policy
Online shopping is the prefered purchasing method for consumers at the moment, the obvious advantage being reduced contact with strangers in public spaces, no queues, and fewer chances of items getting contaminated.
You should look into contactless delivery and returns options to help vulnerable shoppers receive their goods without signature or contact where possible. Check that your couriers are taking all the necessary precautions to sanitise and protect items from contamination.
If the pandemic is affecting your delivery or returns processing turnaround times, be transparent with your customers. Adjust the information on your website and make buyers aware that there may be possible delays. You'll find that customers are for more forgiving and understanding if you simply keep them in the loop. Managing expectations is a huge factor in ensuring customer satisfaction at this time.
Also, don’t forget that due to self-isolation, customers may not be able to return items in the usual window period you provide. It's a good idea to show leniency and extend return and exchange periods so that customers don't have to worry about losing their money if they find it difficult to get something back on time.
Making sure that you offer your customers the right support and service at this time will inspire strong and sustained brand loyalty. Although so many variables may affect your ability to deliver goods at this time, it's important to use a logistics partner that has a reputation for great service as well as the necessary know-how to help you navigate any tricky situations.
At Asendia, we've been helping all of our e-commerce partners to keep delivering orders to customers around the world. While these are certainly unprecedented times, a lot can be done from a logistics perspective to ensure that deliveries continue to happen as smoothly as possible.