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How Retailers Can Survive with E-Commerce during COVID-19

The emergence of COVID-19 has created a huge impact on the global economy. Retailers continue to think of ways on how to weather the storm as many businesses all over the world are closing down. The e-commerce industry is booming right now as companies continue to navigate the digital landscape.

With stay at home orders, social distancing, and lockdowns, many businesses were forced to close their stores. In effect, companies are left with no choice but to lay-off their employees due to lack of revenue. This is where e-commerce comes in. Retailers who cannot sell their products and earn income because they are physically unable to operate can turn to e-commerce if they want to survive. Businesses are facing uncertainty but those who can adapt to the changing landscape may be able to find an opportunity to expand their operations.

Nowadays, you’ll find plenty of webinars for retailers on how to create digital strategies to survive this global pandemic. These webinars are tailored to help companies meet the growing demand for online shopping as well as emphasize the need to adapt to the digital space, especially during this economic crisis. Webinars feature industry experts to help businesses and marketers improve their skills and maximize the opportunities of e-commerce.

Where Businesses Need to Focus On Here are some of the areas you should focus on to be able to thrive and adapt to this changing situation. E-Commerce Experts believe that most retailers are not fully equipped to handle the growing demand for online orders. With the spread of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in online orders. Many businesses find themselves unable to serve customer orders on time. As a result, there is a huge delay in the delivery of their products and a lot of unsatisfied customers. Hence, retailers must be able to resolve this issue. Otherwise, it could become a huge problem. Online platforms including e-commerce sites and social media services have become a significant tool for online sales and marketing. While there is a dramatic increase in the demand for online groceries, experts say that many businesses are still unable to serve a huge number of customers. Mobile

As the e-commerce market continues to grow, marketing experts urge retailers to make the most of mobile marketing opportunities. Many consumers are using their smartphones to browse, buy, and pay for items.

Thus, mobile payments should be set in place so that customers can utilize it for cashless payments. There are various apps to help retailers serve their customers. Retailers should also come up with different options to offer their consumers.

Delivery Service

Since people are ordered to stay at home and stores closed temporarily, many are relying on delivery services to help them get their essential and non-essential needs. Delivery services have become an important way of getting customers their needs without them having to step out of their homes.

Retailers, on the other hand, need to face the many challenges to be able to thrive and succeed during this difficult time. They should be able to deliver the customers’ orders in a safe and timely manner. Business owners should also ensure the safety of their employees. At the same time, they may also rely on third-party delivery services to be able to serve their customers.

Experts suggest converting C-grade stores as their distribution hubs in the meantime to be able to fulfill customer orders. This way, you’ll be able to get rid of non-selling inventories. Make sure you set-up an efficient system for a successful workflow. E-Commerce Will Continue to Thrive Eventually stay at home orders will be lifted as the pandemic situation improves. In the meantime, millions of people continue to be affected by this outbreak. Consumers are now reinforcing new behaviors and habits when it comes to shopping. Most consumers are starting to replace buying essential and non-essential goods from physical stores into online purchases. Many people are still having second thoughts on visiting the malls even when the lockdowns are lifted. People are still reluctant to go back to their old ways because they do not want to get sick.
Based on a study, 24% of consumers say they are not comfortable visiting the mall for at least six months. Consumers prefer to stay at home and shop online. This creates an ideal market to test new mobile apps and sites across various platforms. What Retailers Can Do to Survive Here are 10 ways you can ensure that your business survives this pandemic. Understand consumer behavior. One of the key steps in surviving this crisis is to understand how consumers think and behave during this challenging time. Know that their behavior will evolve over time as they also learn to adapt to the ever-changing situation.

One of the behaviors we’ve seen as a result of this pandemic is panic buying. Experts say that this behavior is their initial reaction to the idea of scarcity. Thus, many people started hoarding supplies of face masks, alcohols, bread, and toilet paper.

Nonetheless, this behavior is only temporary and does not last. As people learn to adapt to the new normal, they will start to change their perception and behavior when it comes to buying products and services.

Re-assess your expenses. To minimize the impact on your finances, you should assess your current operating expenses including your marketing campaigns. Cut the campaigns and promotions that are not making you any profit.

Instead, focus your resources on areas where you can measure the performance. Divert your budget to channels that can hit you high sales and make a profit for your business. Get rid of processes that no longer work.

Managing your budget is a challenging task. Businesses are trying ways to figure out how to properly balance their expenses and still keep their employees on their payroll. This also means that you need to have a positive cash flow in the bank. Therefore, you may need to take a conservative approach when it comes to your finances.

Go into crisis management. Experts suggest that businesses should shift their business continuity plan to crisis management. While retailers are creating plans to assure customers that they can continue to serve their needs, the challenge is to build a strong and flexible crisis management system.

You must learn to adapt to the situation and follow the set of actions in response to the evolving circumstances. This involves all areas in your business including operations, logistics, pricing, and other departments. It’s important for retailers to take control, customize their approach, and ensure that everything is factored into the decision making.

For example, retailers should decide which stores and branches to open. Since there is limited availability of stocks and inventory as well as a reduced workforce, it may be better to close some stores to be able to serve customers better. Get Creative. There are plenty of ways you can promote your business without having to spend too much on your campaign. Use this situation as an opportunity to set up new channels and strategies to attract your market.

Explore different types of digital platforms and see how you can utilize it to bring you closer to your customers. Many customers prefer interacting with sales associates, especially when they do not know what particular product will work for them.

You can consider offering an online consultation to make your e-commerce site more personable. This also shows your customers you care about their needs and that you want to provide more value to them.

Be on the lookout for opportunities. While it may not be the most obvious right now, the situation presents itself with plenty of opportunities for businesses to get back on their feet. You just need to know where to look.

One area worth looking into according to experts is Facebook’s CPM which is now more affordable. This creates an opportunity for retailers to reach a huge chunk of the market for an affordable price. Many people are becoming more engaged right now on social media because it is the only way they can connect to their friends, families, and peers.

Consumers are now more responsive which means that brands and retailers should tailor-fit their messages and create a more personal approach. People are also more vocal about their needs. What you can do is to listen to your audience before you offer your product and change the way it is packaged and delivered.

Some businesses are using discount vouchers to drive more sales. Hence, if you create a strong brand message along with your promotion, you might be able to successfully implement your campaign.

Innovate your business. Retailers need to learn how to adapt to the changing times and find ways to bring new things to the way they conduct their business. For example, restaurants and cafes who are shutdown have no means to conduct their operations if they do not have a drive-thru service. What they can do is to develop an online app to accept orders. Offering an online ordering service became an immediate need.

Optimize your channels. With the boom of e-commerce, retailers should ensure that all their online sales channels are fully optimized. Consumers are using both desktop and mobile devices to research products and shop.

Many are shifting to their mobile devices even when they are at home. Hence, make sure your mobile app service is easy to use. Otherwise, you may just potentially lose a customer if your platform is slow and complicated.

Be transparent with your customers. It’s important for businesses to remain transparent with their employees and customers. The transition from selling products in brick and mortar shops to e-commerce may present its challenges.

Hence, its better to be honest and upfront about it as you communicate the changes to your customers. Some of the challenges you may face include delay in shipment and lack of inventory.

Many online retailers are putting up announcements on their sites announcing that there may be a possibility of delay in the delivery due to the bulk of orders they are receiving as well as the restrictions on areas that are on lockdown.

Utilize your existing customer base. One of the things you can do immediately is to use and maximize your customer list. Start by informing your customers through text and email about your new promos. It can also spark conversations and increase customer engagement.

This can have an immediate effect on your sales, especially once your loyal customers become aware of how to purchase your products even with the ongoing crisis. Hence, you need to utilize your resources and make sure you reach your customers.

Prepare to re-open. While many businesses continue to remain closed temporarily, it is also crucial for you to start preparing for the time when your store will reopen. This includes implementing the safety guidelines mandated by the government to comply with social distancing.

Make sure that your social distancing visual guides are highly visible to your customers and will continue to take effect as we learn to adapt to the new normal. Remember to keep a distance of at least six feet between customers in your store. Keep a fresh supply of hand sanitizers and alcohols in your store.

You might need to adjust your operating hours as well as adhere to the new guidelines. Make a plan on how you will limit the flow of customers inside the stores to maintain proper social distancing.

Takeaway

While no one can predict when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, it’s best for everyone including businesses and employees to learn how to adapt to this changing landscape. The most practical way is to assess the situation and come up with ways on how you and your company can continue to operate amid this global crisis.

By following the steps we mentioned above, you’ll have an idea of how you can quickly adopt these practices and customize it to your own needs. These techniques can help keep your business afloat and prevent you from having to close your doors for good.


June 5, 2020 - Reading time: 11 minutes