What to Do if Your E-Commerce Business Is Sinking During COVID-19

How can Ecommerce Marketers Overcome Obstacles from the COVID-19 CoronaVirus Slowdown
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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the economy. While some states are beginning to push for businesses to reopen and for people to return to work, demand continues to flounder.

Many e-commerce businesses are struggling. Demand for products may be down for on only an item or two if they’re lucky. For many, it’s down across the board.

You might be holding on to stock that you can’t seem to move. You might also not be receiving as much traffic as normal.

Or even worse, maybe you’re struggling to manage advertising spend, because your cash flow has slowed down.

In any case, there are simple steps you can take to improve traffic, reassure your customers, and optimize your spending.

Here are 10 helpful tips for any e-commerce business fighting to stay afloat during the COVID-19 slowdown:

1. Create and Advertise Your COVID-19 Response

Relay information on how the customer experience may be impacted during the pandemic.

  • Will shipping times be different?
  • What items will likely be in short supply?
  • Will customer support response times will be longer?

These responses are key bits of crisis communication that will reassure your customers. They might also reduce the number of consumer questions you receive.

Take advantage of good e-commerce site design strategies and treat this response page like any other essential page. Make sure a link to it is visible and easy to access, no matter what page a visitor is on.

Also, include relevant information on product pages, along with a note about when the page was last updated.

2. Stay in Touch With Repeat Customers

Repeat customers are the foundation of any successful e-commerce business. This is true now, more than ever.

If you have limited advertising spend because you’re working with reduced cash flow, the people you advertise to will be vital.

Identify repeat customers — especially those sticking with your brand during the COVID-19 pandemic — and keep in touch with regular emails highlighting products, services, and deals.

3. Keep Communicating With Suppliers

You want to give customers the best possible information about how long products will take to ship.

Your suppliers are in a similar situation as you. They might be struggling to maintain their usual shipping timelines.

Keep in touch with them. Ask for regular updates on materials and stock.

This will help you provide customers with the most accurate timetables possible about when products will be back in stock.

4. Create New Content

You might need to get creative with your marketing.

If you use written content as part of your marketing strategy, consider discussing the current crisis in new articles you publish.

You don’t need to mention COVID-19 directly, but you should try to reflect the reality of how people are living right now.

For example, you might consider running an article about tips for exercising at home, or tech must-haves for remote work.

5. Update Your Stock Regularly

The products you stock may change regularly during the crisis, as you reevaluate which items you want to hold onto.

You don’t want to advertise a product that is currently out of stock — especially if you’re not going to prioritize restocking that item.

Spend some extra time checking your online listings. Make sure these listings all include accurate and up-to-date information on what is available.

6. Take Advantage of Marketing Data

No matter what you sell, you’ve almost certainly seen big shifts in demand over the past few months. For many businesses, product demand still hasn’t stabilized.

This phenomenon can make it hard to predict which items to stock or advertise, adding an extra layer of complexity to sales forecasting.

Just as effective data management can boost sales during regular times, good marketing info and analytics can help you manage your business right now.

For example, Google Ads offers a metric called impression share. Similar to market or wallet share, this stat shows how many impressions your ads are drawing from the total pool of impressions.

Changes in the total impressions can give you a quick sense of what consumers are looking for right now, which can in turn help you adjust your product offerings.

7. Manage Your Messaging Carefully

Follow the principles of good crisis communication.

Stay open and honest about how the pandemic may affect the customer experience.

Include what your business is doing to respond, and how you’re prioritizing your clients during the outbreak.

You don’t necessarily need to tell customers everything about your business’s situation — stay focused on the customer experience.

Some information, like if you’re benefiting from the $350 billion in forgivable loans that the federal government is offering to small businesses, isn’t necessarily relevant to your customers.

Consider pausing or reevaluating your marketing. When launching new deals, be careful about how you frame them.

An email blast about “Hot COVID-19 Deals” may seem like you’re trying to take advantage of the crisis. And frankly, it can come across as a bit tacky.

8. Offer Promotions

Consider launching some new promotions that are a good fit for the current moment.

For example, create new bundles that show how customers can use your products together at home.

A company that sells exercise gear might bundle together products that work well at home.

Some of these goods might obviously be designed for personal use, while others might not immediately jump out as being home workout-friendly.

9. Learn New Tools

If you find yourself with extra time or slower hours than normal, it might be a fitting opportunity to learn new time-saving tools.

There’s a tool or platform that can help you with nearly any part of running your business.

For example, you can automate back-in-stock notifications and automatically send customers a heads-up when items they like are restocked.

You could also pick up a customer service management platform that organizes support tickets and customer communications.

10. Keep Up Your Marketing

You might need to manage your advertising spend more carefully, but you should continue investing in digital advertising and other marketing channels.

You should also continue using social media for keeping up your digital public relations (PR) and promoting useful information about how your brand is responding.

How E-Commerce Businesses Can Weather COVID-19

The CoronaVirus outbreak will likely continue into the foreseeable future.

E-commerce businesses that are struggling right now should continue reaching out to established customers and carefully managing their messaging.

Doing these things can help them successfully make it through the pandemic.


Feature Image Credit: CC 0; Public Domain. Feature image sourced from Flickr.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

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Lexie is a digital nomad and web designer. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and creating new cookie recipes. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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