If you run an e-commerce business, you’re likely one of the countless business owners in the world impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many online businesses, that meant an uptick in sales as consumers try to avoid other shoppers in traditional retail stores. Even many people who rarely shopped online before began shopping online during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Savvy e-commerce business owners understand that when business is affected by a global crisis, new e-commerce solutions could be the answer. Here are seven strategies you can follow to handle your e-commerce business in this environment.
Key Strategies for Your E-commerce Business
Offer alternative payment methods
If a customer wants to make a purchase on your website, it should be as simple and straightforward as possible. To avoid losing sales at the last moment, it’s important to support all popular payment methods your customers may want to use. That likely includes credit cards, debit cards, and bank payments.
To become truly inclusive for tech-forward customers, also consider including alternative payment methods.
Shift to an at-home audience
While many workers were already spending a part of their time working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly sent millions home long-term. This shift is a huge change in the way people live, work, shop, and dine.
This may lead to changes in your marketing, delivery, and shopping experience to better meet at-home audience needs.
Use your website homepage to keep customers informed
For the at-home shopper, your website homepage is an important e-commerce business development strategy.
The days of static homepages are long gone as current e-commerce strategies for small businesses favor dynamic and personalized shopping experiences. Even if your company doesn’t have the budget of a multinational conglomerate, you can still harness the power of modern web design to keep your customers informed of the latest sales and updates from your business.
Leverage social media
Social media has been an essential part of e-commerce strategies and practices for years. “This is the time to really take social media seriously as an e-commerce business,” says Jessica Moorhouse, a Toronto-based speaker, financial coach, and podcast host. According to Moorhouse, social media shouldn’t just be a one-way communication channel. “A strong customer loyalty relationship is built by developing trust, and one big way you do that is by letting your customers know they are heard, and you are listening.”
“Don't be afraid to have some personality” on your social media channels, she said. “Make it clear what your voice and tone are, what your brand values are, and where you stand on important issues – which is so important in the world we live in right now.”
Whether you serve a local community, all of Canada or an international audience, connecting to your customers through social media can build brand loyalty that converts into steady sales.
Scale customer support
When your customers shift their shopping from storefronts to your websites, they expect customer support to follow. In the immediate aftermath of COVID-19, many businesses struggled to keep up with customer support demands. But this could be a time when customers need support most.
Moving from traditional support to online customer support can include growing pains, but the long-term benefits to your customers and your bottom line can be immense. If you’re able, consider integrating automation as much as possible to keep costs low.
Make your website mobile-first
A shift to shopping from home is a major COVID-19 economic impact, but some changes in how people shop online had already begun. These days, customers are just about as likely to make a purchase with their phone as they are with a laptop or desktop computer.
Because most web browsing and shopping begins with a phone, it’s important to make mobile web design a priority. Instead of building your desktop-based web experience first, consider a mobile-first design for your next update.
Build your email list
Both online and offline businesses often depend on repeat business to thrive. If you want to build up a strong customer base of repeat customers, it’s essential to pay attention to your email list. Work to build an email list on your website and always offer customers the option to opt-in during check out.
“If you want to grow an online business, you absolutely need to collect emails,” says Martin Dasko, the Toronto-based founder of personal finance website. An “email list is needed so you can stay in touch with your most loyal customers.”
But just getting email addresses isn’t enough. To include email as a successful part of your e-commerce marketing, it’s important to send regular updates and offers. Giving email list subscribers exclusive deals and discounts can further increase sales.
Dasko suggests using your email list for two-way communication to make your customers feel a stronger connection to your business. “You can obtain feedback, promote your new products, and see what your target market is struggling with” to better meet their needs.
E-commerce strategies and practices have quickly evolved as Canadian business owners grapple with the effects of COVID-19. Because customers are increasingly looking to digital shopping, merchants should focus on delivering a smooth and fast experience for every sale.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.