The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly hit the economy. Many countries have imposed stay at home directives. As a result, many businesses were forced to close down and limit their services.
Since people are not allowed to go out and physical stores are not open for business, having an online presence can significantly save a business during this pandemic. Going digital can help drive much-needed sales to keep the business afloat. This means that the revenue can keep the operations going and retain the employees during this difficult time. Based on reports, online sales have significantly increased by 52% while online customers are up by 8.8%. Some e-commerce companies are hiring more employees to be able to respond to the surge of online orders.
In this article, we’ll discuss the challenges, opportunities, and solutions faced by entrepreneurs and businesses as well as how online presence can help companies survive. We’ll also discuss how businesses can easily shift their online business to digital platforms as they continue to keep up with the trying times.
Going Digital Is More Important Than Ever
Most consumers are now diverting all their efforts online and are buying across various types of categories such as food, grocery, medicine, household items, and other forms of general merchandise. While we may not know when the coronavirus pandemic will end, it’s important to learn how to adapt to this difficult situation. Otherwise, your business may likely not make it to the new normal.
Many businesses are not equipped with the resources needed to provide the services as they normally would. Hence, it’s important to be able to adapt to the situation and learn to change the way you conduct your business. This will allow you to cater to the current needs of your customers, community, and employees. The best and most practical alternative is to shift to digital platforms. Small businesses will not be able to afford zero revenue for months. Therefore, its either you learn to adapt or you may find your business closed for good.
How Consumers are Reacting to COVID-19
With social distancing being required, more consumers are now resorting to online shopping. Many retail chains are also expanding their e-commerce business to address the demands of online buying. Reports are also showing the emergence of new categories in online shopping. With the growing trend, experts are already seeing a huge shift in consumer behavior which is now geared towards online purchases.
Customers Are Shifting Online and Your Business Should Have Online Presence As well
With many stores closed during this pandemic and limited physical contact, now is the best time to move your operations and customers online. In case you don’t have an e-commerce site, now is the best time to start one. Use the opportunity to encourage your customers to buy online.
Bear in mind that while you are maintaining your operations functional, you are also keeping your customers and employees safe. The role of e-commerce will continue to be relevant and significant in the coming years. When setting up your e-commerce site, make sure that the buying process is easy for your customers, especially if they are trying it for the first time.
Spread the news that you are now available online and can take orders. Making sure your customers are aware of your new platform can make or break your digital presence. After all, there’s no point in creating an e-commerce site if your customers don’t know about it.
Assign your employees to call, text or email your customers. They can assist your customers in setting up their online accounts and navigate their way through your website or app. Making your website simple and easy to follow can ensure customer satisfaction and prevent them from jumping ship to another brand, product or service. These tips will help ensure a smooth transition from offline to online business. Providing a Safer Environment for your Customers and Employees By setting up an e-commerce website, you are placing safety measures to protect your customers and employees. It significantly reduces physical interactions to a certain point. However, you still have to deal with the logistics of delivering the products. Hence, its important to put safety measures in place. This may include but not be limited to hygienic measures. This helps reassure all parties involved that your company is taking the necessary steps in ensuring everyone’s safety. How to Maximize your Online Presence There are a couple of ways to take advantage of your digital platform. Optimize your website. Make sure that your online customer experience produces positive results. This includes a streamlined process, good overall user experience, and quick loading/response time. Otherwise, if your website is too slow, your customers will most-likely abandon ship.
Your e-commerce site should allow customers to select, pay, and checkout without any downtime. At the same time, you should be able to efficiently manage their orders and track their deliveries. Make sure you hit higher rankings on your website and increase online traffic by using search engine optimization.
Review your online presence. Some companies even hire companies to manage their digital reputation. In case, you have a poor online presence, you will most likely lose your customers to a competitor that has a strong e-commerce site.
Make sure you have positive reviews from your customers, update your online business information including your hours of service. Update your website regularly, especially if you have ongoing promotions or contests.
Don’t forget to beef up your social media profiles. Many customers search for brands, products, and services using social media platforms before searching for the company’s website. Hence, make sure your profiles are updated and your posts engaging.
Go live. Many brands are using live streaming to engage their customers. Some companies host trivia games to attract customers all over the world. This is a fun and effective way to introduce your brand to new customers.
Many brands and services are already doing this. Some gyms, instructors, and classes are shifting to online platforms. Many are using Facebook Live to host their workout, yoga, and dance sessions.
Since many gyms and other sports-related fields are not allowed to open yet, live streaming has become their way of reaching their clients as the government continues to restrict social gatherings.
Expand your availability. If you already have an existing e-commerce site, think about expanding your availability. With a digital platform, you can now reach a wider customer particularly areas where you don’t have a physical store. By tapping new markets, you’ll be able to add more customers with opportunities for increasing your revenue.
Make sure your brand or company is highly visible across various platforms including Facebook, Amazon, and eBay, among many others. This will bring you closer to your consumers.
Capitalize on SEO. As buyers are shifting online, take advantage of search engine optimization. This will help consumers find your product or service faster as you become more visible in search engines. The Rise of Online Shopping With lockdowns in place, consumers are consciously avoiding public places and turning to online shopping to buy both essentials and non-essentials. The rising demand for e-commerce also means that businesses must strive hard to ensure that they have enough stocks in their inventory and avoid delayed deliveries in order to fulfill the growing demands of consumers. Learn how to maximize e-mail marketing tools and strategies. Use it to increase your digital traffic while staying connected to your customers. It can help spread awareness about your product or service as well as promote ongoing marketing efforts. As a result of stay at home directives, we’ve seen a huge surge in online transactions. This situation has incited a change in consumer behavior to what we may call now as the new normal. People who once hesitated to do their businesses and purchases online now have no choice but to learn to adapt to it. Using Third-Party Couriers for Delivery Nowadays, many companies are using third-party delivery services. This has become quite useful and highly functional particularly for many food-related, small, and independent businesses. Many businesses do not have the resources to run a delivery service while others were forced to lay-off some of their staff which makes their resources more limited. Hence, a third-party courier can help keep the orders going. Third-party delivery services can deliver a wide range of products from food, grocery items, clothing, and gadgets among many others.
Factors to Consider During the Shift When transitioning from offline to online sales, here are some of the factors you need to consider. Staff – Setting up your e-commerce site means that you’ll have to train your sales staff to help sell through different channels including phone, text, and email. They should be able to track everything online including the products sold, customers, and contact information.
Physical store – If you are forced to close down your physical store, its time to shift your products online. An e-commerce site is a powerful tool for businesses whose physical stores were forced to temporarily close during the pandemic. It allows companies to generate revenue to maintain sufficient cash flow.
Many small businesses are starting to adapt to the situation and are now understanding the importance of having a strong online presence.
Online marketing – In setting up your e-commerce site, make sure to shift your efforts to online marketing. All initiatives should be tailored to generate sales. This includes brand awareness in social media platforms, using SEO and Google Ads to maximize your presence. Keep all your social media profiles updated with regularly scheduled posts to create leads. Create campaigns where people will want to continue doing business with you.
Don’t Have a Website?
If you don’t have a website available yet, now is the best time to launch one. With the current situation, the demand for e-commerce will continue to grow. It’s not yet too late to build your own website. Consider the short and long-term effects of having your own e-commerce site. You can easily launch a website in a few days to meet the demands of your clients. Once businesses shift to e-commerce, customers will continue to utilize your site even when the lockdown is lifted and the outbreak is over. Hence, having an online presence will benefit your business in the long run. You can start by offering gift cards or vouchers for your products or services which may be redeemed at a later date. Another way to position your product is to make it available in various e-commerce sites such as Amazon, eBay or Aliexpress to name a few. Start making your business available online and you’ll discover the wide range of options you can do to help increase your revenue. Your online presence helps your business stay relevant, allows you to connect to your customers, and generate more opportunities to tap new markets. Hence, now is the best time to start building your online portfolio and e-commerce website.
Don’t allow the COVID-19 pandemic or any other situation disrupt your business. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to grow and adapt your business to the current situation and lifestyle. Gather your team and discuss strategies on how your business can transition into the digital lifestyle.
Take this time to evaluate your business and how setting up an e-commerce site can provide a long-term opportunity for your company and your customers. Online marketing can help get you through this tough time and create more opportunities to expand your market share. While there is no clear picture as to when this pandemic will end, many believe that this new normal will continue throughout the remaining months of 2010. This may very well be the case during the holiday season where many consumers are expected to shop online. Aside from adjusting to your new online strategy, don’t forget to set up some guidelines on how your business will transition back once you resume your usual business operations. Remember to always learn to adapt with the changing times to ensure the survival of your business.