Best eCommerce practices for global emergency situations | COVID-19 impact

As the coronavirus cases continue to increase and there is no sign of things going back to normal any time soon, we can already witness changes in almost every aspect of people’s daily routines. That includes consumer behavior and demand and marketing as a whole. 

According to Digital Commerce, there has been a 52% increase in online sales and a staggering 8.8% increase in online shoppers since this virus began. The global situation we are all in now has paved the way for eCommerce to blossom as never before. Yet there are many measures to take into account if you want your online store to benefit instead of go under.

It’s an uncertain situation with a pile of unknowns of how this shift is going to play itself out. If you are an online retailer, the question of how will this affect your business must be on your mind day in and day out. We have gathered several useful guidance points to consider implementing in your online store’s digital strategy to navigate through these compound circumstances with your customer’s best interests at heart.

1. Adjust messaging

Even though the eCommerce stores are what people will choose more and more now, potential customers are going to be much more hesitant. So the absolute first necessity is to think about your brand’s messaging and making sure that it in no way exploits the situation. 

With times being this stressful, it needs to become more transparent, clear, and concise than ever. Think of proactively addressing every fear the consumers might have to encourage loyalty and trust towards your brand.

2. Communicate changes

The key to maintaining a good relationship with your customers has always laid in efficient and effective communication. During emergencies, we advise you to take it up a notch. If your business is affected in any way by the events happening, don’t hesitate to communicate it with your current and potential customers as soon as possible. 

E.g., begin proactive communication via email or on your website directly about any precautions you are introducing, or if there are any changes in your products or services, etc. Initiate a conversation with users and address their concerns by answering all the audience’s questions honestly. To ensure a long-term relationship with customers, consider offering refunds or discounts (if you are able to) for them to feel more at ease during this stressful time.

3. Reassure your customers

Given that the current situation regarding coronavirus is mostly about social distancing and not coming in contact with infected people or surfaces for that matter, you need to assure your customers of the safety measures your company is taking. Tell about all the proactive steps you are doing to keep and distribute your store’s products with maximum protection. In any way that you can, highlight the safe environment you are trying to achieve.

Are you implementing strict sanitation protocols and cleaning your warehouse more frequently? Training the team on handling the shipments with an enhanced precaution? Make a point of this extra quality control somewhere on your site! Have you also limited in-person interactions and moved your work to remote, if possible? Are your workers being offered paid sick leave if they are not feeling well? Communicate this through various channels — social media platforms, email campaigns, or by implementing a pop-up that assures the products purchased on your online store are fully safe. 

4. Keep checking in

To emphasize the importance of brand and business communication on these tough and unpredictable days, here’s another reminder to keep doing that. We are in a situation that changes not even daily, but sometimes hourly. Communicating frequently and doing honest updates based on the events unfolding helps consumers stay up to date with how your business is doing and builds on the trust that you have. 

5. Update product pages

If you predict your product inventory running low in the upcoming weeks, count and update it more frequently to avoid customers being disappointed when the product they ordered turns out to be out of stock. Put a big focus on being upfront and transparent with your customers about product availability and possible delays. Include all the relevant information right next to items. 

Accurate inventory management is crucial right now. If you are unsure about the demand for certain items or any other aspect, consider adding a date when a specific product page was last updated. Don’t forget about keeping your ads up to date according to your stock as well.

6. Inform on shipping delays

You want to do whatever you can to convert potential customers into actual ones and keep the current customers happy, therefore they need to be confident that they see accurate information. That includes your store’s shipping capabilities and possible delays.

There is quite a lot of uncertainty regarding supply chains all around the world right now. Due to quarantines and even lockdowns, border control, and the carriers are taking increasingly more measures to protect the staff, delivery is not as straightforward as it used to be a couple of months prior. How will it affect shipping and will all orders get delivered? Can your brand handle the shipment process during a crisis without hiccups, if not, can they be averted? If there are links to this chain out of your control, are you fully aware of those? Are your customers being informed throughout?

Remain 100% honest with them about potential shipping delays before they get upset and reach out to you first. Moreover, think of flexible alternatives regarding delivery. If something is not working anymore, switch to another carrier or type of delivery service. Make sure you stay open to change and keep your customers in the loop.

7. Think long-term

Take this situation as an opportunity to step up emergency management within your company. Note down a plan of what you can do now and what can be dealt with later. What are the costs and where can you cut them? What steps can your company take to reduce the consequences that appear during global emergencies? Granted, any similar occurrence is not predictable and this one is far from over, but you can use it as a teaching moment.

Not only that. Use this momentum and leverage the opportunities others might miss! Remember that your competitors and all eCommerce businesses out there are going through this too. Innovate and take extra steps, look for unconventional solutions. That alone can pave the way for your company to be far ahead of the competition after several months.

8. Focus on people

Above all things mentioned in previous bullet points, keep the people around you engaged and connected, and safe. Focus on your family members, friends, colleagues, and customers. Probably in that exact order. And as trivial as it may sound right now, this too shall pass.

As far as the work of Scandiweb goes, it remains unchanged in terms of team resources and proactive approach-taking to help our clients. We are determined to look into the current situation as a way to grow online retail from 10% to way more by innovating together. And we are here to help YOU. If anything, feel free to reach out by writing a message to [email protected] or booking a free consultation!

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