Today we can confidently say that the global COVID-19 pandemic has become the biggest defining event of the early 2020s. Whereas previously, people gathered by the thousands, for two years now, they have barely collected by the dozens, avoiding public places. Numerous companies worldwide have abandoned their offices and moved their employees to work remotely. People and businesses face economic uncertainty and the pandemic’s rapidly changing current and impending effects from buying groceries and paying rent to meet revenue projections.
The socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 is probably one of the biggest in the last decade and is evident in every industry, virtually forcing commercial businesses to go online or die. While the threats posed by COVID are no longer as imminent as they were in the spring of 2020, if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that you should always be prepared for any development. And thanks to valuable data provided by Common Thread Collective, we know how drastically consumers’ priorities and buying behavior have changed in advertising.
To survive the crisis, businesses are learning from a rapidly changing environment and coming to terms with the realities of our interconnected world. They are using technology, creative thinking, and genuine care to adapt their business models, marketing strategies, and operations to their customers’ emerging patterns and new buying behaviors.
In this article, we want to outline the strategic steps e-commerce businesses take today to adapt to post-pandemic buying behaviors, ensure sustainable growth, and build strong and lasting connections with their customers.
Develop your digital storefront with speed and scale
Although there are more than 400 unicorns worldwide, one of them will likely fail, as will 70% of startups. The statistics are inexorable – consumer hardware companies fail even more frequently, with a shocking 97% rate. Startup Genome analysts emphasize that 90% of all startups die sooner or later. As bad as that sounds, there may be a way out. Instead of dwelling on the sad side of entrepreneurship, let’s think about what can be done to prevent these failures.
You can’t afford to wait out a crisis. It won’t go anywhere for months or even years; once it starts, it will only intensify for a while. It’s time to become protected from the future! Ensure the sustainability and continuity of your business by bridging technology gaps with agile solutions and innovation. On your own or with the help of a technology partner, make sure your digital storefront is scalable and ready to meet new customer needs and expectations.
Take a close look at your technology stack or e-commerce platform you’re using and focus on providing the best customer experience possible. Find ways to improve the performance and user experience of your online store – optimize page load times, SEO, integration, and checkout procedures. Address your customers’ changing needs with new features and innovative approaches to remote and digital service.
Revisit the supply chain for business continuity
The pandemic has dramatically increased the pace of the widespread shift to remote online shopping. This rapid change has put many companies’ fulfillment and delivery capabilities to the test. Even giants like Amazon have faced serious delivery delays and logistics bottlenecks due to the COVID-19 outbreaks. That’s why building supply chain capacity is critical to ensure uninterrupted service.
Build backup inventory to cover fluctuations in demand and set realistic customer expectations that you can confidently meet. Optimize store delivery and pickup procedures with features such as item tracking. Improve supply chain communication through various apps, online tools, and services. Consider setting purchase limits for high-demand items to ensure fair distribution and set delivery/pickup schedules to improve customer service.
Keep product pages up to date
While you’re working to optimize your supply chain management, which can be a real challenge, you want your customers to be well informed about any availability, fulfillment, or shipment issues you may encounter. Be transparent and keep your product and service pages up to date so that your customers know that items are out of stock, that shipping is taking longer than usual, or that services are undergoing specific quality-of-life changes. With good communication and proper expectation management, you can be sure that your customers will never be surprised by disappointing news when shopping at your online store.
Ensure your online transactions are as secure as possible
Make sure your customers are confident that ordering online from you is safe! Optimize your ordering and delivery procedures to make them as easy to understand, secure, and transparent as possible. Don’t put off your purchase by gathering unnecessary data, and avoid confusing descriptions. According to KPMG’s 2020 Customer Experience study, up to 98% of shoppers worry about their data and what happens to it.
Increase the level of customer support
Make sure you offer your customers familiar, reliable, secure payment gateways and delivery methods they already use and trust. Not only will this remove any doubts and possible concerns, but it will also make the checkout process much easier for your customers, as most of the payment and shipping information will be filled out and processed automatically.
Businesses with so many customers moving from physical to digital stores experience a massive surge in traffic. And while the increase in order volume is a good thing in and of itself, managing these piling up service requests can be highly inefficient and burdensome for your business without proper customer support.
Aside from optimized product pages and summaries, it’s vital to leverage data and analytics to improve your contact center management systems and procedures in order to provide more timely and relevant customer service. Complement and automate customer service with virtual agents – install compelling chat features and automated self-help tools on your site, so you don’t overburden your support staff.
To alleviate the strain even further, you may include a review and comment function on product pages, where your community can assist other consumers in finding solutions to their questions.
- Conduct a customer needs assessment and offer real help
The marketing approach that worked wonders for your business before the pandemic may now be a complete disaster. Instead of simply devoting more resources to advertising to gain a competitive edge, you must reimagine your ads, emails, and campaigns of yesterday. A profound shift in online shopping requires you to think just as deeply at every turn.
- Track and analyze your sales.
- Use data analysis to inform business decisions.
- Analyze your customer’s behavioral data and find out how you can help them.
- Determine if there are any specific services or products in your portfolio that may be in high demand in today’s global environment.
- Provide factual and up-to-date information about the state of your business.
- Talk about your own experiences in a time of crisis.
- Provide accurate information about what is happening in your organization, including your health, safety, or quarantine measures.
- Explain the impact of the crisis on your company and the steps you are taking.
By taking on more responsibility and caring for your customers today, you are building strong, trusting relationships that will last well beyond these challenging times of uncertainty, whether the world situation remains more or less stable or we experience a new crisis like COVID-19. The bottom line is that no one can predict what else the future holds, but despite the uncertainty, it is possible to take control of your future.