COVID-19: Keeping Your eCommerce Business Alive9 min read

Lachlan Perry

Lachlan Perry

From a digital marketing and web hosting background, Lachlan is keen to provide all of his insight and knowledge learnt over the years working in the industry to those who want to see their business succeed. On weekends, you can find him enjoying good music and even better food.
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Coronavirus or COVID-19, is the world’s buzzword right now. It’s everywhere. It’s the conversation starter between your parents, your workmates and even total strangers in the supermarket. 

The impact that the coronavirus has had, is astonishing, to say the least.

It has shut down the world’s economy, the stock market is suffering, and millions of Australians are being laid off or forced to work from home. 

A pandemic of this size makes people anxious and changes customer confidence, and undoubtedly will have lasting implications through the decade as many small businesses look to stay afloat after being shut down.

A month before, the bond of Australians uniting behind one another as rural NSW and VIC were alight from the bushfires was a sight to behold, now it’s unrecognisable.

Non-essential businesses are now closed, such as pubs, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, and bars. These are all social hubs for humans, and humans are social creatures. 

Businesses that have yet to imprint their digital footprint on the world are going to suffer, and eCommerce businesses are set to up their game as the world is destined to be stuck at home for an unprecedented amount of time. 

Uncertainty during these times might be the most understated term of this pandemic, with people panic-buying groceries to online shopping for some dumbbells to curl at home – the way people are buying is changing at a rapid pace.

This article is aimed at helping you keep your eCommerce business alive, as well as understanding how consumer’s needs are changing, and to alleviate some of the uncertainty that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought to businesses the world over. 

COVID-19 And Buyer’s Behaviour

Before the Coronavirus, it was business as usual.

You were able to go out and grab your favourite bite to eat, head to the gym for a quick pump and selfie, and best of all – you could get toilet paper without WW3 breaking out. 

With news of the World Health Organisation declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, all hell broke loose.

It was an ‘every man for himself’ mentality. Panic-buying and stocking up became second nature, with essential items such as toilet paper, bread, and hand sanitiser becoming nearly impossible to obtain. 

When put into isolation, we get bored and unsatisfied. Staying at home all day isn’t fun (sorry introverts) and we search for ways to entertain ourselves.

Your eCommerce business might fall into a sector that hasn’t suffered, and you need to advantage of these trying times.

For example, the health and fitness industry will be set to boom exponentially as gym junkies look to work out from home, with most gyms worldwide being closed.

Sportsmart, a popular Australian fitness equipment retailer, has sold out of their dumbbell collection already. 

It isn’t just limited to handheld equipment either – benches and even half racks are sold out. 

They aren’t the only retailer sold out, you’ll find this across any reputable provider no matter how hard you look. 

A range of dumbbells that are sold out on a popular fitness eCommerce website.

It’s never ideal to run out of stock for something beneficial like fitness equipment, but keep in mind that sports retailers such as this one were second to gym’s who had users flocking through their doors every minute of the day to work out.

They have made an exponential amount of revenue in the wake of COVID-19 because of people’s changing demands.

Your Supply Chain Is Your Money Maker

Selling your product is one thing, but keeping up with the intense demand for certain products is proving extremely stressful.

Medical equipment, such as face masks and hand sanitiser is the focal point products in high demand. 

The issue? The majority of these products are imported from China who has had substantial hits to their manufacturing and distribution industries. 

China remains a cheap supplier for most items, including clothing, electronics, medical equipment – you name it. Given their current situation, this is affecting the supply chain between China and Australia for a wide range of industries.

China has the second-largest economy in the world and brings Australia billions of dollars every year in exports, trades, and tourism. With this supply chain being disrupted, many eCommerce businesses in these industries are suffering and may be forced to close their doors.

Understandably, being able to find a new supply chain overnight is impossible, but eCommerce retailers will need to make adjustments to ensure they’re staying afloat:

  • Product listings must contain all relevant information. 

    In-store retailers have the aid of salesman to assist with selection and discovery. eCommerce stores miss that human influence, so it is vital to ensure your products contain all important information, including country of origin or creation.
  • Real-time inventory control helps customers know what’s in stock.

    Don’t add to your headache by overselling products you don’t have in stock, no-brainer. You’ll also want to assess a realistic ‘final-customer’ demand, and respond to the panic-buying behaviour of customers.
  • Offer premium delivery services for free. 

    Stressful times, but the volume of your products being sold outweigh the small extra cost that these services offer. It’s also a nice incentive to your customers. 

An added note to this is you can also offer your services for free, depending on what you’re selling. 

Ahrefs for example, are offering their paid course on ‘Blogging For Business’ for free, as well as Moz Academy and Skillshare who are also offering premium courses for a limited time.

These are great examples of giving your customers a test drive before committing to a full purchase, and if they enjoy what you offer, you can ensure they’ll come back and pay for it. 

An infograph of how supply chains will be affected by Coronavirus.

In a time of digital importance, user experience (UX) matters.

If you’re in the fortunate position where your business facilitates a strong supply chain or makes use of a ‘dark store’, then making sure your website is user friendly has never been more important. 

After all, if you have the stock, you’ve got to sell your product in the easiest way possible.

For industries such as grocers, health and fitness, electronics and medical equipment where competition is at an all-time high – your users need to have a great experience. 

We’ve touched on the importance of user experience before but now is the time to pay serious attention to how your users interact with your website.

As mentioned, COVID-19 is forcing users to respond to the crisis and alters their buying behaviour. 

We’ll summarise the most effective tips to implement to your website to reduce bounce rates from impatient users. 

  • Optimise your website for mobile

    It’s in 2020. If your website looks like a bunch of Tetris blocks on mobile, you’re doing it very wrong. 
  • Reduce your page loading time

    Only 2% of the top 100 eCommerce websites in the world load less than 5 seconds on mobile. Slow loading times is the fuel for shopping cart abandonment. 
  • Use internal link structures 

    Your users need to be able to hop around pages with ease and it must be relevant to what they are searching for. 
  • Stimulate interaction through incentives

    It’s a stressful time for everyone. Coupon codes, discounts on delivery and call to actions are a great way to capture a user’s attention.
Bart Simpson scribbling 'I will UX all the things' onto a blackboard.

Simple steps to follow, but they reap a lot of reward if done correctly.

Digital Marketing Can Help You Survive

Hear us out on this one – it’s not a sales spiel. 

Everyone is now at home, and for those unfortunate workers who brave the front-lines, they still may need to online shop to avoid further exposure to COVID-19.

Given this, eCommerce stores need to desperately ramp up their online presence due to the disappearance of face-to-face business.

SEO and PPC services such as Google Ads and Google Shopping are not inherently cheap services, but you can maximise your ROI (return on investment) if done correctly. 

If you are not actively putting your foot in the door concerning your digital presence, you’ll lose out to other eCommerce competitors that are. 

SEO is a tedious and tireless process, and the majority of your SEO success comes down to creating amazing, user-focused content.

Interactive content is making a revolutionary change in how people want to perceive information. Videos and infographics are the easiest way to get static information across aesthetically and simply.

Content is always the foundation you want to set, but fixing up your on-page and off-page SEO will allow you to get a head start. 

With this being said, social networks are always going to be important for eCommerce businesses as well.

Have you ever scrolled through Facebook an ad for a clothing brand you like pops up? It’ll help you through your product choice as well as decision making, and you won’t have to go looking for what you want.

You need to make use of a digital marketing campaign to drive real traffic to your website and improve your CRO. 

eCommerce businesses live and die by their conversion rate, so ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve to keep your business afloat during these dire times. 

Businesses that haven’t taken the token to invest in digital channels now is the time to adapt or sink. Not only do users have more time to shop, but marketing companies have more time to refine their strategies and tactics to assist you.

Remain Calm & Confident 

Ultimately, we don’t know when the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic are going to settle.

However, it’s important to stay confident amid times of uncertainty. 

Uncertainty is the great killer of a positive mindset, but so long as you’re taking the appropriate steps to not only stay healthy but keep your users happy, you’re on the right track to staying float.

If you’re struggling financially because of COVID-19 but need that digital presence, get in touch and we’ll work out an arrangement for you.

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