Last updated: April 7th, 2020
In these times of uncertainty, many businesses are already feeling the pinch. The retail sector has been disrupted as consumers practice social distancing and turn to the Internet to fulfill their shopping needs. This change in buyer behavior has given some sectors of ecommerce a boost while others transition to preservation mode. If the latter describes the current state of your business, know that we’re here to help. Give us a call, and we can help you create a strategy.
In the meantime, try these tactics for ecommerce businesses in the COVID-19 age.
Open a New Sales Channel
Expanding to a new sales channel might seem counterintuitive right now when you want to focus on maintenance rather than growth. However, opening another channel can help you reach untapped markets, find more prospective customers, and create a new revenue stream. This is especially true for brick-and-mortar businesses who have been relying on foot traffic to their stores and now have to bring themselves online.
It’s also true for businesses that rely on Amazon FBA to fulfill their orders. Amazon is currently prioritizing stocking household and medical supplies, meaning that Amazon sellers will be severely impacted.
Selling where the buyers are shopping is key right now. If your business can handle setting up a new sales channel, it’s worth looking into—and we’re here to help you automate a lot of the back office busywork.
Pivot Your Marketing Strategy
Rethinking your marketing budget and strategy is a highly productive activity that you can do while practicing social distancing. Now is the perfect time to assess each campaign’s performance and shut down the ones that aren’t returning on your investment—what’s successful now might be different than even just a few weeks ago. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you should consider cutting marketing activities that direct consumers to your physical location(s).
Another marketing activity to cut is auto-piloted email marketing. Though the messaging might be helpful under normal circumstances, that no longer applies. In fact, customers and leads are more likely to find these messages annoying.
With the money saved, pivot to an entertainment-focused marketing strategy. Data from China has already shown a 31% usage increase in Weibo, a microblogging site where users can interact virtually, and a 102% jump in Douyin (Chinese TikTok.) Total internet traffic in the U.S. has risen by 27% with rapid growth in media, particularly social media and streaming services. There is a clear value proposition here, not to mention the opportunity to show the fun side of your business. It is just important to remember there is a fine line between entertaining and making light of a serious situation.
Cross-Train Your Team
Cross-training employees entails more than teaching everyone how to use your email system, shipping software, or other business tool. It starts with identifying core functions of each department and determining how the necessary skills of these functions can be taught. Think of it as zone defense versus one-to-one, where team members can cover for each other in busy or otherwise stressful periods so specialists can focus on their job roles.
These are the areas that improve with cross-training:
- Return on investment
- Employee collaboration
- Overall motivation
- Workforce sustainability
- Company agility
Cross-training lets you find hidden talents and utilize them, and the shared knowledge among employees will make them better collaborators because they don’t have to waste time getting everyone up to speed. Use this time to your advantage and make your teams more flexible.
Build a Continuity Plan
Communication has never been more important than it is now, both internally and externally. If you haven’t already, let your employees and investors (if applicable) know that you are developing a business continuity plan for finances and supply chain.
Then, brainstorm setbacks that might lie ahead, including the worst case scenario, and work backwards to create a plan to handle those challenges before they arise. In regards to your supply chain, start searching for alternative vendors in case yours ceases production.
Get Creative with the Extra Time
With everyone staying home to help flatten the curve, people have more time on their hands than they might be used to. This gives you uninterrupted time to get creative and explore new hobbies and ideas and apply them to your ecommerce business. One example is launching a blog or video series about your business, industry, or niche. There is plenty of interesting content if you know how to spin it, whether it’s behind the scenes footage or simply offering a look into a lesser-known industry.
As you’re getting creative, a few things happen. You establish your business as a thought leader while also humanizing the brand and building consumer trust, and you’ll improve your SEO rankings along the way.
We’re Here for You
Here at Webgility, we talk to ecommerce sellers just like you every day, and we know the struggles that you’re already facing. If you have any questions or if we can help you or your business during these difficult times, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager or to our headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org. From our team to yours, stay healthy and take care.