Online sales have seen massive changes during the COVID-19 outbreak. For some, like those in the grocery and DIY sectors, business has improved. But for others, especially travel and hospitality, there has been a marked downturn.
If you operate an ecommerce business, how can you make sure that you can navigate this time and continue to do well during it? Here are three strategies that can help.
Build Brand Trust
One of the key drivers for online sales is the reliability of a website. This impacts how long it takes a visitor to feel enough confidence in the brand to feel secure in buying.
One of the ways that you can achieve this level of confidence is by communicating that customers can still depend on you during the crisis. You can use a top banner on the website to directly address consumers’ concerns. Let them know that you are still open, that you are working hard to meet delivery timescales and that you are taking all necessary precautions to keep your staff and customers safe. It may be the case that ordering from you has not been affected, in which case, this is a positive message you should be conveying to your prospects.
You can write a short message and then link through to separate page if you need to provide lots of extra information on how your operations, packaging, stock levels or deliveries have been changed due to COVID-19. The aim is to inspire confidence in buyers that you are a company worthy of their business. So, ensure that the page is well-designed and laid out. The more information you can impart, the better. A thorough list of genuine FAQs will help answer most visitors’ queries.
Adding an exit poll can be a useful strategy here too. It can help you to understand why customers have abandoned a cart, or why they are about to leave your site without buying. Maybe what you’re offering isn’t quite what they are looking for, or perhaps the delivery timescales are too long, or it could be that you don’t offer click and collect at your shops. With sufficient response, the feedback should drive you towards changes that can improve your sales.
Certainly, click and collect – from your own or other retail outlets – is one option that is increasingly popular for customers at the moment. It allows the customer to avoid contact if they are ill, and to arrange for someone else to collect for them. And it’s attractive to those working from home in jobs that cannot easily be interrupted to answer the door to a delivery driver. There is even a “curbside pickup” option in business software such as NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce ecommerce solution that allows a company to enable collection from the kerb, meaning the customer doesn’t have to step foot in the retail premises.
Electronic proof of delivery is also an asset as it avoids any need for recipients to sign paper and can automate the sending of despatch and delivery confirmation emails.
One final thing here. We’re all getting a bit weary of some of the language being used though – so do try to avoid the clichéd terms, like how these times are “unprecedented”, “challenging”, or represent the “new normal”. That things are very different is evident to everyone by now. So, you would do better to keep your communications authentic and relatable rather than stating the obvious.
Enhance Brand Engagement
Encouraging better engagement with your website visitors will improve user satisfaction. And in turn, this can create a positive user experience that will boost sales.
Optimising your website for mobile has always been important. But the current situation means that people are spending even more time on their mobile devices.
Many shops are not open, and even if they were, mobile commerce avoids an anxious trip to the shops. Working from home while possibly also having to juggle home-schooling, many of us are very much on the go. This makes the mobile phone an easy and convenient option when buying online.
The retailers that can deliver a great mobile experience will be the ones that will maximise their mobile conversion rate. So you too can take advantage of this, it means enhancing your mobile site so that it has a fast page load speed and offers an engaging user experience that leads visitors effortlessly through the sales process.
You could also add a new filter so that customers can select products according to whether they can be shipped on the same day, or can be delivered within a certain timescale. Customers wanting to shop from home still expect to get their purchases quickly. If you can help them to easily find the products that they want, and show that you can deliver quickly, then this will improve your chances of gaining the sale.
In applications like NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce, this only requires the simple change of adding a new aspect to the filters.
Expand Your Reach
To maximise your sales potential, you need to reach a wider audience. This doesn’t mean an indiscriminate approach where you promote your products all and sundry. You still need to hone your marketing strategy so that you are targeting those prospects that have a need for your products.
But that said, you can still make sure that you are reaching as many of these qualified prospects as possible.
Firstly, you can make use of email marketing. Your prospects are even more connected at the moment, and many have more time on their hands, email open and click-through rates have improved.
So now is a great time to contact all your customers and prospects. The best way to do this is to segment them according to type and behaviour. You could send a message to previous buyers of a certain product that upsells them to a better product, or cross-sells them something that complements their previous purchase. Prospects that have visited your site but never bought could be offered a discount on their first purchase. And you can send newsletters to all your contacts that highlight your latest news and demonstrate that you are still open and providing a reliable ecommerce service.
With extended mobile and internet use, advertising can also enhance your reach. Rates of online advertising have been declining recently, as companies reduce marketing budgets to save money. But there is an old marketing adage that states that companies that continue to advertise through a downturn are the ones that will reap the benefits. Not only do they reach more prospects, their continued activity means they are remembered better when the economy bounces back.
Google has also made it free for sellers to list products via its shopping tab. Starting with the US, this is rolling out gradually over the coming months of the year. Although not yet available in the UK, merchants should take advantage of this knowledge to plan and prepare for this.
There’s Still Time to Improve Your Ecommerce
It’s clear that consumer behaviour has changed and will likely continue to evolve. Ecommerce and mcommerce rates are growing rapidly and its up to retailers to embrace this and make the changes that will help their sales bounce back or even increase.
It’s not too late to implement new strategies that enhance your ecommerce or mcommerce presence. We’ll certainly continue to see an increase in people shopping online and they are more likely than ever to choose local and trusted brands.
NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce solution can help you to build brand trust, enhance engagement and expand your reach. To ensure continued ecommerce success, let us help you with a free consultation or a tailored quote. Book an appointment or contact us today.
This post was inspired by an article produced for NetSuite’s blog.