Pandemic has hit businesses across industry sectors hard.
Consumers avoid crowds and leave their houses only to satisfy “essential needs”. The death mark is terrifying and it has exceeded 6,800 in the US. Many companies are either closed for business or compelled to rethink their approaches.
At this point, it’s hard to predict how long will the partial shutdown be in effect. The virus outbreak is setting the pace moving forward.
So, the question is how eCommerce companies fare in these times of turmoil?
Well, a challenging journey lies ahead. They have to cope with new demand patterns and supply chain disruption. But, they aren’t without ammo in the fight to overcome the crisis.
Most notably, they can do a better job of serving and engaging customers.
Over a Rough Patch
Under the weight of pandemic, the macroeconomic parameters are declining.
Short-term market pitfalls abound and the long-term horizon is shrouded in uncertainty. According to the Federal Reserve chairman, we may already be in recession territory.
A crisis of that scale is bound to create a big dent in the purchasing power of the population. People will be less eager to spend and casual shopping is the first sacrifice they will make.
Moreover, they have to adhere to social distancing and severe restrictions on movement, which are in place worldwide. Their habits and daily routines have been already turned on their head.
Not only that but, the US states have order nonessential operations to close. The retail sector, in particular, is scrambling to navigate the disruption period.
The adverse effects forced some brands to shut down digital storefronts. Victoria Secret and the Frankie Shop are among those abandoning their sites for the time being.
Return to normality can’t happen without authorities lifting societal resections. That all depends on the effectiveness of government measures, such as disaster funding package, and advice that healthcare experts provide.
A Catalyst for Digital Transformation
In general, eCommerce businesses are much better insulated than brick-and-mortar stores.
Today, many people forget the likes of Alibaba and JD.com came out of the SARS crisis (2002-2003) stronger than ever. This history lesson reminds us there are some silver linings.
Digital purchasing power is still going strong. In some cases, online shopping is the only way to acquire the desired products. Mobile grocery shopping, for example, is booming and even senior citizens seem to be on board.
Even some sectors heavily reliant on in-person sales processes flock to eCommerce for the first time.
Car dealerships are a prime illustration of this newfound trend. Similarly, some restaurants have turned to apps in order to tap into online deliveries and stay afloat. Many other businesses ponder fully-fledged digitization as a saving grace.
Reshuffling of Priorities
Furthermore, people rely on mobile devices and computers more than before.
Fitness equipment, virus protection products, and non-perishables have seen substantial boosts in sales. Likewise, Amazon has shifted its product prioritization and suspended Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
Now, it’s going to focus on:
- Household items
- Personal care
- Scientific supplies
The eCommerce leader also promises express and free delivery via Amazon Prime. This just goes to show that while challenges amass, consumer expectations remain high.
We should also mention shopping surges that big-box, grocery and electronic stores report. Walmart has even raised worker wages to accommodate a spike in consumer demand. Sales of household supplies have quadruped for the Chinese giant JD.com
The main lesson to draw is: Coronavirus pandemic affects various eCommerce businesses differently.
Crisis Response Measures Hold the Key
To survive and thrive, you don’t want to sit idle, waiting for the crisis to run its course.
There are certain proactive, revenue-boosting measures that could lessen the blow. For instance, try to turn your advertising and marketing spend up a notch. We know belt-tightening seems inviting, but it might be the riskiest thing to do right now.
People stay at home more, so video advertising is a great way to reach them. More specifically, consider allocating extra dollars to YouTube and Television. With app downloads poised to grow, display advertising could be a lucrative tactic as well.
Besides, notice Google is giving away $350 million in ad credits. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that have kept active are eligible to receive them.
The US government has also decided to lend a helping hand. It initiated a $300 billion package to provide small business loans. You can apply for them to fuel basic expenses.
The chief aim is to boost your visibility across touchpoints to maintain or increase your market share. You may need to look beyond your local community and discover new audiences.
Shape up or Ship Out
The next step is to develop strategies to combat risks such as supply chain disruption.
This is crucial for businesses that work with suppliers from countries where factories are closed. At the same time, you should anticipate any delays in shipment and product shortages. Be transparent and communicate these issues to your customers.
And if you trade over marketplaces such as Amazon, avoid prolonged out-of-stock situations. You can run afoul of search and advertising algorithms and see your sales plummet as a result.
Finally, make sure to monitor how consumer behavior is changing, if at all.
Based on the findings, carry out site-wide optimization and improve user experience (UX). Engage your customers via social media, blogging, or some other channel. Address people’s pandemic-related frustrations and fears.
Update your business information to account for changes such as different customer service work hours. Here, pay special attention to prime digital real estate you own, such as Google My Business.
Rest assured things won’t go to the way there were before. So, stay agile and embrace innovation to rise above your competition.
eCommerce Companies Must Step Up Their Game
As the virus outbreak shows no signs of slowing down, doom and gloom roam the markets.
Brick-and-mortar businesses will bear the brunt of the impact. However, eCommerce companies aren’t completely spared. Therefore, learn to fend for yourself instead of waiting for salvation to come.
Recognize that both unique challenges and opportunities arise in times like these. Brace yourself for disruption and tackle problems such as delays in supply chain head-on.
Keep an eye on fresh data to understand shifting consumer behaviour. Be agile with your marketing budget and launch new campaigns. Do everything you can to retain existing customers and win new ones over.
Get in touch with us if you want to automate and supercharge your shipping. Our management platform can help you stay ahead of the curve!