Let’s be real, the fact is, the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects seem to be far from over. It’s safe to assume that we, as a society, will have to face its implications for the next couple of years. The situation of this highly communicable virus is very dynamic. The number of people you find in places such as shopping malls and restaurants, which were once considered safe is rapidly declining.
Social distancing norms demand that you only visit public places when it is absolutely necessary. Naturally, as the days pass, people are accepting the terms of our new realities. One of the major behavioral changes in the community today is how people approach this prolonged period of uncertainty and isolation. From online shopping to bulk buying, people are continuously changing what they buy, how they buy, and when they buy. With more and more countries going into lockdowns, non-essential businesses are being closed. Customers prefer to avoid public places in general.
Understanding Coronavirus and the General Public Response
The COVID-19 pandemic has given how we see the world a new perspective. When the world started to go through numerous stages of lockdown, we started to find alternatives to interacting with the outside world physically. Every aspect of our lives from hitting the gym to stocking up groceries was majorly affected.
When the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, people reacted by bulk-buying and stocking up. They went out and collected medical supplies such as masks, and hand sanitizers. Household essentials like bread and toilet paper were being stocked up. Small retail brick-and-mortar stores struggled to meet these high demands as lockdowns also meant irregular supplies. They had to fluctuate the prices to keep their businesses from going under. People started to react, not out of need, but out of fear. This risky and uncertain situation made all of us feel like we have no control over our lives whatsoever which led to rampant amounts of panic buying and retail therapy. Our basic instinct was to over-prepare.
Secondly, there was a crowd mentality associated with our shopping. When we see someone buying everything on the shelves, we think that we might be under-preparing. Our decision to stock up is largely influenced when we can foresee a shortage. And nobody wants to be left behind without resources, especially in a global crisis.
How E-Commerce Businesses Came into the Picture?
Large conventional retailers announced big lay-offs due to the pandemic, sometimes dropping a majority of their staff during the lockdowns. In contrast, e-commerce services have received a major boost. As people started looking for alternatives to going outside, the pandemic transformed their shopping and retail habits. The world of e-commerce was certainly not unaffected by this impact. When faced with an uncertain situation, general customer behavior starts to change.
As we realize just how infectious the virus is, many shoppers raised questions about the safety of visiting retail stores. Scientists are finding that the COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for up to three days, depending on the material. That being said, it is unlikely to classify anything we buy from a public store as completely “safe.” However, when it comes to e-commerce services, there is a very low risk of contamination from packaging and products that are shipped over days or weeks at an ambient temperature.
When you shop at retail stores, you are likely to come in contact with various shopkeepers and helpers who might be asymptomatic carriers. However, when you order your products online, e-commerce giants guarantee no contact delivery. Instead of coming in close contact with you, they would simply leave the package at your doorstep and follow social distancing norms. The World Health Organization addressed this concern and wrote “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.” Unarguably, people are turning to e-commerce services which leads to a boost in their demand.
What Kind of Strategies Can be Used by E-Commerce Websites?
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a significant expansion in the field of e-commerce. E-commerce enables customers to access numerous products from the safety and convenience of their homes. It has also enabled small firms to continue their operations despite various confinement and contact restrictions.
E-commerce has managed to successfully expand its scope. What earlier used to be an arena dominated by giants, is now being taken on by new firms(like local businesses), products(such as household essentials), and customer segments(like women). E-commerce sales have also slightly shifted from luxury services and goods to everyday needs and household necessities, which are relevant to more individuals.
As the e-commerce domain continues to be in an uptrend, it might be a good idea for e-commerce websites to adopt some strategies to enhance their sales:
Provide Your Customers and Search Engines Some Helpful Product Descriptions
If your e-commerce website deals with a particular type of product, you should aim at telling customers everything you can. For instance, if you sell accessories or clothes, add a size chart. The more information you put out there, the better it will be for your business. It will help you cut back on returns and show your buyers that you know everything there is to know about your product. You can also include testimonials and customer reviews. Make sure that you add a page for frequently asked questions. Write SEO optimized descriptions that can enhance your website’s visibility in search engines. Not only will it generate more traffic to your website, but it will also help your customers make a decision.
Email Marketing and Automation
Email marketing is one of the only mediums that gives a higher return than social media platforms, paid search, and direct mail (Yes, it is over 122%!). Start by building a list with the emails your customers provide when they purchase on your website. You can also accumulate emails via your website and social media campaigns in exchange for discounts or coupons. Your email marketing strategy can consist of automation as well as stand-alone emails. Set up email automation such as order triggers, welcome, and cart abandonment.
Order automation thank the users for placing an order on your website. You can use them to motivate them to come back and check out similar products. Welcome emails are used to welcome a customer on your website and to remind them to place an order. You can also add a discount coupon to this email. Cart abandonment automation retargets users when they drop something in their carts. It is like a “friendly reminder” to encourage them to place an order. Make sure that you optimize your emails for mobile devices. Many popular email APIs like MailChimp automatically optimize your campaigns for all devices.
Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms are one of the most affordable ways to advertise your website.
1. Make sure that you have accounts on major platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
2. Keep posting regularly and add an e-commerce social media campaign to boost your revenue.
3. Social media platforms allow you to target a specific audience for particular pages on your website. Create a landing page. A landing page is used for advertising campaigns. This is where your users will land when they click on your ad. Make sure that your landing page and your ad are consistent. If you promised your users a discount on your ad, your landing page should display it as well. Go for similar information and a harmonious look.
4. You can also add short videos to your advertisements that show how your products have changed the lives of your customers.
Find in-market shoppers with Google Ads
Google Ads allow you to advertise your products prominently at the top of google searches. This helps you find the people who are looking for your products. Your ads should include offers, ratings, prices, and product images. Also, make sure that it is easy for users to hit the “add to cart” button.
You can also retarget them with display ads. Remarketing campaigns help you appeal to your users. It reminds them of the products they were interested in. You can use remarketing campaigns to specifically target people who looked you up on Google the next time they are on Instagram or Facebook.
All in all, the grappled public needs a safe alternative, and provides them with all essentials, and avoids the public in general. Online E-Commerce has proven and would continue to come back stronger post coronavirus pandemic.