With so many people staying home and many shopping centers closing, people turn to online stores to buy items they need or want. The outbreak shutdown is a time when you may see increased sales, and the added traffic can help you thrive. Alternatively, you might crash and burn, depending on how well-equipped you are to handle the extra traffic. People are also uncertain about who they can trust with their safety, so you need a plan that reassures current and new customers.
Recent reports show a 50% spike in internet usage with more people working from home and staying indoors due to government orders. Now is the right time to tap into the extra traffic and grow your e-commerce site. Here are some specific steps you can take to survive COVID-19 as a business and flourish:
1. Ramp Up Banner Advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is still highly effective for driving targeted traffic to your site. However, you need to advertise to your audience with strong visuals. One way of grabbing attention on social media or third-party websites is by using the right size and style of banner ads. The graphic needs to contrast with the background of the page on which it appears. The text should be easy to read.
Understand people’s emotions right now. During turbulent times, they focus on the lower needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. If you try to appeal to a higher-level desire, it may fall flat.
2. Improve Your Logistics
A sudden surge in orders might create difficulties in packaging and delivering everything. Work on streamlining your logistics and delivery methods. Start with a well-designed package advertising your business as it goes from Point A to Point B. Think of companies such as HelloFresh and how they grab user attention with their boxes. One study revealed 52% of customers who receive branded packaging would order again, while 40% recommended the brand to others.
Also, look into how to speed up shipping, reduce costs and get orders out faster. Some of your new customers may not order online frequently. They may feel uncertain and fearful they won’t receive the item. Reassure them by staying in touch every step of the way. Provide tracking numbers so they can watch the path their order takes.
3. Hire Seasonal Workers
Your regular staffing needs may be far below what the sudden influx of orders demands. Around 16.8 million American workers — or about 11% of the country’s labor force — filed for unemployment recently. The increased online orders might be temporary, but there are also many people out of work who might want to get back out there. Not everyone without a job qualifies for unemployment either. Take your example from companies such as Kroger, who hire seasonal workers to cover the additional labor needs.
Keep in mind you will have to train and protect these workers the same as your other staff. Factor in the amount of effort involved when deciding how many people to hire.
4. Focus on Essentials
Now is an excellent time to focus on the essentials everyone needs. You’ve probably noticed Amazon is no longer promoting their daily deals or advertising widely. Instead, the focus is on essential items people need to survive, such as food, paper and cleaning products. Perhaps you don’t sell many essential products, but you can still prioritize things people need regularly and get those goods out faster than the optional ones.
You may also find some of your supply chains disrupted during this time, particularly if you order out of the country or have manufacturing facilities in Asia. Work with a local distillery and sell hand sanitizer, or fire up your sewing machine and start making masks and other protective items for the general public.
5. Promote Protective Measures
Have you thought about the measures you have in place to protect those who receive your products? COVID-19 lives on surfaces for different lengths of time. Customers may hesitate to order if they aren’t sure what your procedures are.
First, create rules that make sense for your workers and customers. Ask employees to stay home if they have any symptoms. Provide personal protective equipment to prevent any cross-contamination with those who might be asymptomatic. Limit how many people handle the packaging.
Once you have some rules in place, let your customers know what you’re doing to protect them as well as your employees. You’ve likely noticed a lot of sites now have a statement about COVID-19 at the top of their pages. A quick mention shows what they’re doing to combat the outbreak and how they intend to keep you safe.
6. Adapt “Nice to Have” Products
During hard times, people shift their focus to items they need rather than nice-to-have products. If you sell something non-essential, you may see a drop in sales. You must adjust your marketing message to coincide with the new reality. If you sell luxury hair products, then your focus might be on caring for your hair at home.
If you offer bird feeders, then shift your marketing to hobbies to start in your backyard. Think about people’s needs right now and change any advertising that may be insensitive to those things.
One of the keys to surviving the rapid changes all e-commerce businesses currently face is being as flexible as possible. Listen to customers’ needs and talk to your employees about how to improve your processes. If you make a mistake, own up to it and let your patrons know what you’re doing to rectify the issue. Provide stellar customer service, so they have one less thing to worry about during a highly stressful time.