“When will things go back to the way it was?” is a common question people share since everyone has isolated themselves to prevent the spread of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Another real question to consider, however, is: “How are we going to recover from this?”
Things will be different as everyone prepares for the “new normal.” Restrictions will loosen over time in multiple stages. A call to action is necessary to help you cope with the changes within the different areas of your operations and marketing.
If you are running an e-commerce store, chances are that recovery will be a bit easier for you compared to other businesses that were unable to go online during the pandemic. But it still helps to think and plan for the future. After all, the questions regarding post-COVID-19 retail are endless:
- “How will our shopping habits change in the near — and distant — future?”
- “How will these new shopping habits change global retail?”
- “What will our shopping streets look like months from now?”
Preparing for the New Buying Behavior Post COVID-19
Pre- and during COVID-19, running a business became more difficult as some companies were forced to stop trading due to social distancing rules. To secure their businesses, entrepreneurs had to change the way they keep supply chains intact, serve their customers, and market their products.
As a way to stay in business, more companies moved their shops online — polishing their websites, updating their social media profiles, and investing in professional SEO services so customers will find them online.
Despite changes due to the crisis, companies are still trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors based on their customer experience. Experiences are perceived uniquely from one customer to another. It can also expand from back-office domains like supply and production chains to front-office experience.
The one thing that has changed is that businesses are focusing on doing all of these tasks online.
Digital Transformation is the New Reality
The COVID-19 pandemic has defined ‘digital transformation’ better than anyone could ever have. Prior digitalization efforts are paying off, especially for companies that already underwent a digital transformation — meaning they made e-commerce a fundamental element in keeping their business alive and thriving.
The future of e-commerce already looked bright as more people depended on the Internet for their wants and needs. E-commerce growth was driven by the further adoption of online shopping, as well as the growing connections with new commerce touchpoints like SEO management, voice assistants, chatbots, social media networks, and smart devices.
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After the lockdown, e-commerce will continue to be relevant. Companies with a strong digital presence are better prepared to weather the COVID-19 storms. They can overcome the economic downturn since they have been consistently operating online. Still, the battle is not over even if the lockdown has been lifted.
Consistency still plays a vital role in maintaining quality digital customer experiences. Stay consistent in how you convey your message across different touchpoints and in how you interact, recommend, guide, and transact with your customers. It’s also important to stay consistent in how you personalize your customer experience.
With all these in mind, place your e-commerce business in a position of success now and after COVID-19 with the following strategies.
E-Commerce Post-COVID-19: A Game Plan
Be More Disciplined with Your Keyword Focus. The costs of keywords are down. Take this opportunity to re-evaluate your keywords and refine them. Look at negative segments and keywords using Google Analytics to identify keywords that are no longer converting (and if you should still bid on them). If these keywords are no longer profitable, focus on the ones that are converting well.
If you need help with your keywords, it’s best to seek help from professional providers of complete SEO services.
Identify New Buyer Personas. The pandemic has reshaped your target market, which means your buyer personas have also changed. They will respond differently when the situation begins to normalize. Post-COVID-19, you might have to deal with the following buyer personas:
- The Panic Buyer. This type of buyer is not motivated by the price but by fear. They will buy in bulk.
- The Captive Buyer. Captive buyers are hesitant to substitute one product with another due to high costs. They don’t mind postponing their purchases.
- The Price-Conscious Buyer. Buyers under this category prefer products that are within their budget range.
Perform Pricing Research to Maximize Your Profits. As you perform research on pricing, think about what your market can afford, both with and without COVID-19. Consider the reality that people are on a budget right now. Create a discount strategy that will get your inventory moving and still fit the budget of your market. Thoroughly test your discount strategy at different price points, especially if you’ve experienced a decrease in demand due to the pandemic or have products with some level of seasonality.
Be careful with your discounting strategy, though. Refrain from becoming too aggressive and overdoing your promotions. Remember: not all of your products need a discount; some of your products are selling well at their current prices. Also, be mindful not to condition your target market with discounts. If you cut prices on everything, managing their expectations will be difficult after the pandemic.
Use Google Trends to Provide Relevant Recommendations. Google Trends offers real-time information in terms of how popular a particular search term is currently. Other analytic software tools, such as Mangools or SEMrush, can give you a historical monthly average of a specific search query, but Google Trends offers insight on what you should do now.
Consider a Wish List Functionality. Some businesses aren’t big fans of wish lists due to the growing number of abandoned carts. But if your website has a wish list functionality, consider developing it with an added level of personalization.
Add data from your wish list into your automated marketing strategy so you can still connect with your shoppers. Your customer might not have the income to purchase your products now, but you can entice them to come back in a few months once the market has snapped back up.
How can you reach out to them? Through email marketing.
Drive Engagement and Sales with Email Marketing. Since most people are performing tasks and shopping online, they are checking their emails frequently. Email conversions are flourishing across most industries.
Email marketing is an affordable way to spread the message about your brand. Emails can drive an average of thousands of dollars per day in revenue. If you’re looking for better ROI, email marketing is the way to go.
Start by growing your email list, whether through another type of campaign or a pop-up on your website. If you want to encourage people to sign up, entice them with an irresistible offer (e.g., free shipping or a discount coupon). Giving away something little now could buy yourself a loyal and long-term customer.
If you don’t have a product that is in demand or don’t have the financial ability to advertise, focus on increasing your customer intimacy and relationships. People have a lot of free time, so they might be more willing to fill out your survey. Learn more about your customer base and market accordingly so that you have a plan in place once things return to normal.
Offer Subscription Options. It’s more affordable to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. If you have a product that has regular sales (e.g., health, food items, household goods, and beauty products), a subscription model might be a better marketing option than your current strategy.
Subscription can boost your monthly revenue quickly since it’s guaranteed money that does not require more touchpoints. You also have more control in terms of setting up your subscription plans, as you can determine your fulfillment, margins, the regularity of deliveries (monthly, quarterly, and yearly), and distribution.
During this pandemic, customers are shifting to subscriptions of necessity from subscriptions of convenience. The reason is that a lot of brick-and-mortar stores are closed, and there’s more risk of infection in physical shopping. If you don’t have a subscription option, set one up today.
Leverage Your Out of Stock of Products Appropriately. Supply chain disruptions, staff shortage, and hoarding — these are, unfortunately, common during the pandemic. As a result, the market is seeing more out-of-stock products than before. When the inevitable happens, ensure that you don’t lose your customers because of it.
If your items are out of stock, there are three things you can do:
- Create an email marketing/wish list functionality that alerts buyers when a product is back in stock.
- Manage your inventory consistently by removing unavailable items.
- Have a system in place that will direct customers to a similar product that is in stock.
Today, people are used to being content with their limited choices. They will choose alternatives, provided you offer them the option.
Marketing and selling post-COVID-19 will be a different picture from today. Instead of wondering what that picture is going to look like, plan for the future. Have strategies in place so that once everything is back to normal, your e-commerce business will continue to flourish.