Build retailer business resilience during Covid-19 outbreak

As billion consumers are staying at home to fight the coronavirus pandemic, online buying is soaring significantly. According to the Emarsys/GoodData tracker, APAC-region online orders were up 82% year over year for the 2 weeks of March 22 through April 4.

Online orders have been especially surging for essential items. However, the vast majority of retailers only offer store-based shopping, and few retailers are actually investing in e-commerce.

How can you address this crisis if your business does not have an eCommerce website yet? Check out our best tips below:

1. Now is not the time to stop your marketing efforts

Although marketing is often considered a non-essential budget, it is crucial in dire times. A recent Forbes article cited multiple examples of brands that invested in advertising during adverse economic times. These brands all gained a significant market advantage when the economy recovered.

There is a saying that “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.”

An American Business Media Report explains this: “if a company fails to maintain its ‘Share of Mind’ during an economic downturn, current and future sales are jeopardized. Maintaining ‘Share of Mind’ costs much less than rebuilding it later on”.

Don’t hesitate to expand your in-house marketing efforts to build up your brand identity as well as maintain your sales revenue in this challenging time.

Stay connected with your customers through social media

Now is your chance to actively promote your products online. Link your social media to your website and post more often to let customers know you are active.

As people hunker down at home, time spent on social media has been surging drastically. People want to consume real-time information as well as engage with interactive content such as challenges, workouts, and webinars. Weekly time spent in apps grows 20% year over year according to AppAnnie’s Report. This is an opportunity for your business to grab customer attention and spread your marketing message.

Keep your customers informed about how your brand addresses the crisis. Don’t forget to create positive content to get your customers’ minds off the pandemic. This will add value to customer relationships and increase interactions.

Use messaging platforms to answer your customers’ questions

With all shopping activities shifting to digital platforms during the COVID pandemic, consumers require even more product and service information before buying. A simple way to build trust in your products or services is for your brand to be easily accessible. Get your messaging platforms ready and visible. This will help expand your reach and boost connections with your customers.

Make use of PPC ads to reach more people while they are searching for products online.

People are practicing social distancing. This does not mean they stopped making purchases altogether: online orders are on the rise. Take this chance to highlight your product value proposition as people are searching for them online, with pay-per-click ads. You can do so on Google Adwords of course, but keep in mind its competitors to diversify your paid media mix. Microsoft Advertising, Instagram, LinkedIn, or even smaller search engines such as DuckDuckGo might be good opportunities for you to reach your audience.

A research on more than 100 eCommerce experts showed that PPC is among the most effective tactics for SME online shops. Around 82 percent said pay-per-click (PPC) ads attract consistent traffic for eCommerce.

2. Empower your customer care agents to support customers during COVID-19

In the context of COVID-19, customer care centers are facing more challenges than ever before. They need to handle dramatically increased levels of customer emotion and anxiety in service calls. According to Accenture’s recent report, customers prefer live interaction when looking for answers to urgent and complex issues.

What can companies do to help their contact center navigate this difficult situation? Here are a few key actions you can take to address these issues:

  • Adjust the prioritization: Address the most critical contacts first and handle the less urgent but important contacts as a second step.
  • Update FAQs in real time: Spot repeating queue messages to identify recurring customer questions. Create FAQs and synchronize them to multiple digital platforms to directly address those requests.
  • Adopt the advocacy technique: Encourage agents to use advocacy techniques during customer service calls. Something as simple as “we are on your side”  or “let’s solve this issue together” can help reduce customer frustration. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, advocacy language can reduce customer centers’ effort by as much as 77%.
  • Make the most of collaboration tools: Agents should use a mix of messages, video chat, or photos to deliver useful guided help and proactively answer customer questions.

3. Move your business online with eCommerce 

In the face of COVID-19, it’s crucial for businesses to not only protect and maintain business but also to outline your business vision to adapt to immediate changes after the outbreak. How do you start your e-commerce business? For us, there are three main steps involved. You have to set up a solid strategy first, then organize your operations, and finally iterate and scale your business.

Building a strategy to start your online store

Strategy is often overlooked, but it is decisive for e-commerce success. Here are a few points to ponder:

What product do you sell? Is it going to be a niche boutique or a general store? The products most adapted to eCommerce generally display these characteristics: low seasonality, decent sales volume, small and lightweight.

Who are you going to sell to? Who is your target? Research your industry carefully. Knowing your customers will make it easier for you to reach them. Without a clear perception of your buyer, you won’t market effectively and will therefore waste resources.

Who are your competitors? How are you going to be different?

Operations: make your store a reality

The next step is to make your store a reality. For that you’ll need:

A brand identity so your customers can understand who you are and remember you. You need a name that appeals to your target, and a logo of course. We also advise that you determine your brand’s tone early on.

A website. Several e-commerce platforms exist that can help you build your website and run your business. Some essential functionalities to look for are faceted search, integration of multiple payment and delivery options, registration, vouchers, orders, and product management. Shopify, Magento, SAP Commerce Cloud, Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Sitecore Experience Commerce Cloud are among the most popular e-commerce platforms.

If you are looking for a quick solution to start operating within 90 days, check out our Quick Starter Package.

Scaling: prepare for growth

Be careful not to grow your brand alongside your e-commerce capabilities. If you grow your brand alone, you might end up with more demand than you can handle, resulting in poor customer experience.

Keep track of your eCommerce performance by translating your business objectives into measurable indicators. These are your KPIs. They will allow you to keep a close eye on your progress, and to detect the cause of possible issues. Monitoring your business will tell you when to hire help, automate and shop for additional warehouse space.

We won’t speculate too much about when the “end” of this period will come. We’re only expecting we make it through together and we encourage you to adapt your business plan thoughtfully and proactively. If you need more assistance on how to quickly surpass online business challenges, contact us to get your consultation!