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Ecommerce and the Coronavirus: Communication Best Practices for Merchants

ecommerce-and-the-coronavirus:-communication-best-practices-for-merchants

The unexpected spread of the Covid-19 virus puts a ton of pressure on business owners. Acting responsibly and keeping your business going is not an easy task. Many merchants suffer from supply shortages, difficult working conditions and new regulations. Communicating effectively with your customers is extremely difficult when people are worried about their health and job, and possibly struggle with social isolation.

Hopefully, your ecommerce business can make your customers’ lives easier. Make the best out of the otherwise quite gloomy situation!

Revise all prepared material

First of all, you need to make sure that all your ongoing advertisements and scheduled campaigns are appropriate.

Brands often advertise their products emphasizing togetherness and connecting people. This is a kind and responsible thing to do under normal circumstances. But these are definitely not normal circumstances.

Make sure your advertisements and imagery does not suggest hugging, kissing and spending time in large groups. These messages conflict with the ongoing health crisis when health institutions suggest the complete opposite.

It is not trivial to rework the messaging of any marketing campaign. But in some cases, this is the only thing you can do to avoid wasting ad spending and backlash. Hershey executives faced this dilemma and decided to re-edit their upcoming ad, which previously showed friendly hugs and handshakes.

If you want to resonate with your audience, emphasize the positive aspects of temporary self-isolation and working from home. Encourage customers to take this opportunity to be mindful, pick up a new hobby or catch up on books or movies.

Do not avoid the topic

Chances are, a large part of your customers reside in one of the affected countries. Therefore, you can’t really avoid the topic of the current coronavirus outbreak. This is something that causes discomfort for many people. To connect with them, you need to address it with kindness, sympathy and care.

JimmyJoy, an online nutrition company published a blog post recently to update customers on what’s going on. It shows how you can communicate responsibly and transparently in serious times like this. Even if you build your brand around being joyful and casual.

The blog post says there is a surge of orders coming in. They work extra hours to ship orders on time. They don’t expect stock shortages, but will need to ship some orders in plain-white packaging instead of their colorful pouches with drawings on them.

Clear communication in this case is essential: Nobody likes to be surprised by any small change in the product they receive regularly.

Here are some more examples on how you should address the coronavirus situation:

  • Products in high demand: We are proud that our products can help so many people in difficult times like this. We currently ship all orders on time, but delivery times might increase soon.
  • Supply chain issues: We do our best to ship your order within 24 hours, however, the coronavirus situation might force us to delay it. If that’s the case, we will contact you directly.
  • Product alterations: Just a heads up: Your order might arrive in plain packaging due to the limited capacity of our print partner. Don’t worry, the content is the same!
  • Delivery info: Despite the coronavirus situation, we expect our deliveries to arrive on time to all countries. Some postal services report slower deliveries, but our courier partners are still going strong💪

Your Recart Messenger Welcome messages are a great place for communicating how you are addressing the situation. Sponsored Messages and Click-to-Messenger ads are also very effective, since you can specifically target returning customers or people who are currently thinking about ordering from your store.

Your email newsletter content should also include any general information. Just keep in mind that people staying at home are much more likely to browse social media than check their email inbox.

People might need your product. Now more than ever

If you sell beauty products, you might want to tell people about how they can remedy the irritation on their skin caused by wearing face masks.

Food and beverage brands with fast delivery can save people from visiting crowded grocery stores. This will help them avoid getting virus while standing in line at the cashier.

Leisure products, books, video games and toys will ease the burden of social isolation.

Online courses will potentially get someone back on track with their career if they lose their job during the epidemic.

If your product can help people make the best out of the current situation, let them know how.

An opportunity to lead by example

Unexpected situations like the Covid-19 pandemic will require unexpected measures from organizations. Your business is no exception.

There is no easy way to go about it. You need to reflect on the position of your business and decide what you can do to help communities stay safe while also keeping your business going.

Hopefully, this guide will help you reach your customers, help them stay safe, and keep your store going.

This article originally appeared in the Recart blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurship, commerce, and Shopify. If you have the desire to implement what's working today for direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify, I'm excited you're here! Get the Shopify help you need. This industry blog and podcast is my digital brain where my guests and I share cutting-edge marketing strategy, must-have Shopify apps, and marketing platforms that will help you build and scale lifetime customer loyalty. To do this, I'm part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus and host of the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast.