As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the retail industry, more and more shoppers are purchasing online instead of visiting a brick and mortar store. As a result, eCommerce has never seen the boom it has over the past two years. This means it's essential for businesses to have an effective eCommerce strategy in place.
In this article, we'll discuss four ways you can maximize the benefits of your eCommerce business in the unpredictability of COVID-19.
1. Create a Seamless Customer Experience
As eCommerce continues to explode, the need to differentiate yourself from the competition has never been greater. One way to do this is by providing a seamless brand experience across all of your digital channels, which can be vital for retaining loyal shoppers.
Promotions are another great way to gain and keep the interest of your customers. Therefore, you mustn’t neglect the power of promotional incentives even in uncertain times. However, to resonate with consumers and encourage them to make a purchase, relevant communication is vital. This should be done in multiple ways, including promoting your eCommerce site on many channels such as social media or email marketing campaigns with effective calls-to-action.
2. Optimize Your Cross-Border Shipping Strategy for COVID-19
For those that sell online, a cross-border eCommerce strategy is also increasingly important. Because COVID has aggravated importing and exporting goods from one country to another, it's more difficult for shoppers in foreign countries to buy products from you. However, this doesn't mean they can't be reached or don't want your products anymore.
To reach these potential customers, companies will need a well-thought-out plan to help them navigate COVID guidelines while maximizing their brand exposure across borders. Part of a successful strategy includes:
- Partnering with qualified logistics partners; post-COVID, one of the factors of logistics partnership that has become more important is reverse logistics, the ability to return items — ensure the partner you choose has a smooth process for returning inventory.
- Acquiring competitive shipping rates; container shipping rates from China to Europe have increased six times over since COVID.
- Creating the business systems and investing in the staffing necessary to maximize international shipping efficiency; business systems, the series of processes, tasks, and activities linked together to complete a goal, are unique to each organization.
3. Consider Evolving Your Sales Strategy
For many manufacturers, decisions are made early on whether or not they want to sell their goods through retail and distribution or directly to customers. COVID-19 has challenged brands that don't have a strong B2C (Business-to-Customer) sales strategy and forced them to start looking at new ways to diversify their revenue streams.
Depending on the needs of your business, your eCommerce strategy may need to change over time. Having all of your eggs in one basket can be a mistake. A good sales strategy needs to be fluid and flexible enough to change with COVID-19 while also helping you sustain your revenue. While some businesses may adopt a hybrid business model that blends both B2B and B2C components, others may find profitability is higher, relying on only one path. In Ireland, sports uniform maker Intosport diversified by reconfiguring its factory floor and beginning to make personal protective equipment like scrubs and hospital gowns. They went from canceled orders to taking on more staff to keep up with their PPE orders.
4. Place More Focus on Online Data Security
Making sure your customer data stays safe needs to be your top priority, given the significant growth of eCommerce since the start of the pandemic. To keep your customers' information secure, make sure that your customers are protected by adequate online security measures. You can do this by protecting your site with SSL certificates that offer Domain Validated (DV) or Organization Validated (OV), as well as ensuring customer financial information is stored in strictly monitored databases and through PCI-compliant solutions and services.
Data breaches and cyberattacks have become a significant issue since the outbreak of COVID-19. With so many customers relying on eCommerce shopping, malicious attacks target small and medium-sized businesses that may not have invested enough resources into their only security. It's important not to be one of these organizations. The consequences of non-compliant security precautions on your eCommerce website can lead to more than just a loss in revenue. They can lead to lawsuits, fines, and the closure of your business altogether. Therefore, it's important to view security as a significant part of your eCommerce strategy.
COVID-19 has changed the way many businesses operate, and it's safe to say that the eCommerce landscape has changed forever. The disruption caused by the pandemic has increased the importance of acquiring competitive shipping rates, investing more heavily in online security, and has led more and more organizations to evaluate more thoroughly their go-to-market strategies. As COVID continues to impact more industries than ever before, you need to have your finger on the pulse and not be surprised if you start seeing more changes in how people buy products. To keep up with these changes and remain relevant in today's digital marketplace, investing time into an effective eCommerce strategy will help you successfully grow and sustain your business.