Ecommerce may be the solution, but how do we do it responsibly during a crisis?
Not only has ecommerce and D2C changed the face of retail, but the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic is altering consumer behavior and possibly the way we do business entirely. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is without a doubt uprooting everyday life, and potentially, will do for some months to come. Workers facing restrictions have been asked to work from home, schools have been shut down, and whole cities have been placed under lockdown. Isolation and social distancing measures mean consumers avoid stores altogether. Individuals and organizations are having to turn to online solutions for their essentials, whilst retailers of ‘non-essentials’ are concerned about staying afloat in the coming weeks.
Now, more than ever, people need to feel safe knowing that their needs will be met. Whilst this may be an opportunity to stretch your ecommerce muscles, it is important to act responsibly and with your customers best interests at heart. During this challenging time, consumers are alert to how companies are engaging and the ways in which they are responding to both the personal and economic upheavals that the pandemic is bringing.
Nevertheless, the coronavirus pandemic stands as an agent of change: Now is the time to bring online sales and direct retail into focus.
Let’s Look at Recent Developments
- A recent study shows spikes in altered consumer attitudes: 50% of Chinese and 31% of Italian consumers say they’re shopping online to purchase products they’d usually buy in-store.
- The e-commerce giant; Amazon, is prioritizing household staples and other high-demand items during the coronavirus pandemic. Prime delivery delays can now be as long as a month. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that this accurately reflects Amazon’s current reality and it is unclear how long it will last. During this time of global health crisis selling over a platform may not be right for your product.
- To avoid going to stores where inventory may be limited, digital shoppers are willing to wait on products that they need with longer delivery windows and even convert to brands solely based on accessibility.
- Reduced spending in the travel industry, could represent a loss of 30% to 45% percent of social media’s overall advertising revenue.
Begin the Shift
“You need to build direct-to-consumer strategy on top of a solid and stable foundation so you can respond faster and more efficiently. It’s capital intensive because you’re revising almost all of your business enterprises, then comes the technology, then comes the brand experience.”
Jeremy Bergstein, President of The Science Project
To be sure, direct retail offers great margins, but it also requires continuous investment in reaching your audience, honing the relationship with the customer, capturing their feedback; both quantitative and qualitative to make better business decisions. Successful direct sales requires vertical integration, support from a strong operational and organisational structure. Don’t forget analytics, testing is the most effective way to learn how to create the right experience for your user. As you embark on this change, be mindful of the times:
- Adapt your message.
It is imperative that brands attune to consumers’ needs in the coming months. It’s time to rethink your marketing and advertising. Pause certain campaigns, adjust the copy to better speak to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Be cautious of pivoting too far away from your core vision, or worse yet, coming off as opportunistic.
At the moment, it is uncertain as to what the future will hold and your customers are feeling it. Be mindful and sensitive, I’m sure you’re feeling it too. Consider offering free shipping or pre-order alternatives.
- Connect with your community.
Not just marketing, storytelling develops a culture for your community. As we all face different levels of isolation, this time will be about the intimate relationships that you can build with your shoppers. Authentic interaction will fuel brand trust during these troubled times.
- Create social experiences.
Get creative about how you leverage your online presence, from virtual showrooms to live-streamed testimonials. The absence of “in real life” experiences, due to self isolation or quarantine, customers are looking to social media platforms for content and connection.
Preserving cash flow is understandably the top concern for businesses given the current and foreseeable disruption in the economy. A few strategies being advised across the ecommerce ecosystem includes issuing gift cards, running various promotions, discounting underperforming inventory, shifting payment terms where possible, slowing supply/inventory and applying for government relief. A combination of these strategies can provide a degree of stability, however, with customers at home, much of their attention is on digital devices. A sure way to find your audiences is to reinvigorate paid marketing. It is hard to ignore the glaring reality that the solution to cash flow is focusing on online sales.
We Can Help
If you’ve chosen to shift focus to your online shop, congratulations! It is an unrivaled dedication to your customer that’s brought you here, which arguably, is exactly what the world needs right now. Remember, you’re not alone, DRVE’s programs can offer the help you need. We are not a traditional agency or a conventional venture firm, but rather a new hybrid ready to help businesses boost their online revenues. Our capital and expertise, managed with a data-driven approach delivers sales growth for businesses set up to sell online. Stay safe, we’ll get through this together.