The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for eCommerce merchants. The long-term impact of COVID-19 will have on digital commerce is unknown, but for some, it means near-term planning to keep afloat while others are thinking about once the crisis has passed and what the new normal will look like. We recognize the difficulties merchants are facing to pivot their business strategies with little or no staffing and stay-at-home orders nationwide. So how do you navigate what’s next when the news is changing at a rapid pace?
From understanding best practices in a time of virus-suppression to preparing your digital strategy and commerce operations, we are offering guidance to navigating this uncertain time for merchants.
One thing's for certain, consumer confidence will be impacted. Maintaining communication with them during this time is important, especially on production delays and inventory levels. We are sharing several other best practices to consider:
-Offer new options to receive orders. Social distancing means transforming BOPIS to curbside pickup. Offer delivery and no-contact options, such as leaving packages at doors or in the trunk.
-Consider backorder and presell options. It’s possible your entire supply chain has been impacted. Consider implementing a backorder or pre-sell strategy to continue with sales.
-Leverage brick and mortar stores as fulfillment centers. If your previous fulfillment centers are not working, then consider using the inventory in stores to help the rest of your supply chain keep moving.
-Add site messaging to update users on your efforts towards the pandemic. This includes everything from changes in store hours to promotional messaging around staying at home and products related to those efforts.
-Test out new opportunity avenues. COVID-19 is keeping consumers indoors for the foreseeable future and this is actually a prime time to test out some new opportunity avenues. From try-before-you-buy to subscribe and save. With supply chains in flux this might not be an option for all merchants, but for those that can deliver should consider implementing at this time.
Online sales have increased by 52% compared to the same period last year. During this time merchants will need to be more reliant than ever in their digital commerce. When it comes to user experience consider the following:
With consumers making the majority of purchases off digital channels, these features are more important than ever. Ensuring a frustration-free search process will help keep consumers coming back. Consider also adding a chat-bot feature to allow for a conversational process in finding what a user needs, this is a value-add during a time of social distancing.
84% of consumers are demanding more assistance and guidance when searching for products online.
This could easily be the first time many consumers are shopping online, at least for certain categories. Making the user experience as easy as possible, especially at check out is a huge value add and could keep one-time visitors coming back once, even once stay at home orders have subsided.
Case in point: Our client, Construction Specialities, more than doubled eCommerce revenue after improving user experience across all connected devices and implementing Oracle Commerce Cloud.
By keeping the online check-out process to as little steps/pages as possible (one page/one click is preferred) and following up with an email order confirmation, as well as tracking information when it becomes available are all ways to make smooth user experience and gain loyalty.
The bottom line, this forced lifestyle change could lead to a long-term boost if you are able to gain consumer loyalty. It is hard to see exactly what the revenue implications will be after this. We realize many merchants are having the flexibility of their organizations tested to the limits and these changes may not be possible. If you have questions during this time of uncertainty regarding your commerce operations, please contact our experts at Echidna for insight and advice. We’re all in this together.