The coronavirus pandemic affects companies in different ways. From loss of revenue to remote work, during the COVID-19 outbreak, things change quickly and companies have to adapt continuously. The eCommerce business is perhaps more important now than before the crisis. Organizations that do not have an online channel face major difficulties selling their products. On the other hand, we see the online environments in the food sector, which can barely cope with the flow of orders. In this blog we have listed the most important tips and supplemented with practical advice.
On various websites, tips are given to generate turnover from your online sales channel during this uncertain time. This blog provides you with an overview of the most important tips and advice from, among others, Jan Cortenbach, e-commerce director at Charlie Temple and Jeroen Sonneveld, e-business manager at Advion.
At Charlie Temple (online eyewear store) they see an increase in new customers. That means a new target group that has a different need. For them, buying online is an even bigger barrier than for the old target group, so taking away concerns is very important. This can be done, for example, by emphasizing your USPs (Unique Selling Points) even more emphatically or by highlighting the possibility of paying afterwards. In addition, Charlie Temple has decided to accelerate the rollout of the pass packages. This allows customers to try on a pair of frames at home before ordering their new glasses.
Fig. 1 - Extra emphasis on the USPs with a 100-day return period.
Consumers now wonder all the more whether and how they can return their order. For example, are the pickup/dropoff point still open and are you still allowed to go outside? Returning a package within 14 days can become difficult. Remove this threshold from the consumer and temporarily offer a longer return period to be able to serve your customer even better.
At the Hornbach you see a good example that clearly communicates this adjustment. The return periods have been adjusted for both the consumer (30 days) and the business customer (90 days).
Fig. 2 - Hornbach has extended its return period to 90 days for the business customer
At Advion, a supplier of FMCG and food with disinfectants, hand soaps, gloves and face masks in there assortiment, they have seen the demand for these products rise exponentially in recent weeks.
Understanding product statuses is now more important than ever: avoid disappointments for your customer relationship by being clear about current stock and delivery options. This ultimately saves you a lot of time for solving customer questions and delaying delivery times. Not only do you prevent “no sales” with this; You also avoid many questions to your service desk about availability and delivery time.
Clear insights and communication is key, especially if you operate in a market with personal protective equipment for vital professions.
Fig. 3 - Advion shows for each product whether the product is in stock and / or available
Be immediately clear in your communication on the website. Make use of a banner or an extra pop-up notification in which you take the measures related to immediately brings the corona virus to your attention. This inspires confidence in the customer to continue to make purchases from your store even in these uncertain times.
What precautions do you take to keep your products, packaging, stores and staff safe? What delivery options and flexibility can you offer? What are the measures for visiting a shop safely? It is important to listen carefully to your customer care department so that you know which questions really matter to customers.
Fig. 4 - HEMA offers a clear page where all measures are listed
Are you active in a market where the current conditions are calmer? Use this period to improve processes. Even if everyone works from home, it is very easy to consult or train digitally.
Devise and build (digital) solutions together with the teams where there are common problems. An example is your online FAQ, a standard place for your visitors to find answers to questions. But when is the last time you worked on it?
Only offer what you have on the floor. Through (social) media you see an emergence of cowboys who respond to the current circumstances. If you look further, it often turns out that nothing is available. This is an easy way to raise awareness and get traffic in no time, but don't do it at all.
Good coordination between inventory management and marketing is important at this time. Also, only post relevant content if you actually have it on the floor and you know you can solve the question. Act ethically; Use your common sense, Prioritize where you want to help with limited available goods where it is most needed, give priority to relationships in, for example, healthcare and government.
Amazon's rise has been in the news a lot lately. And that's not all. Amazon recently announced it will seek 100,000 new employees in America to meet the rising consumer demand due to the corona virus pandemic. This again indicates that the number of companies offering their products on marketplaces is increasing sharply. Explore the possibilities of what marketplaces (Bol.com, Zalando, Amazon, etc) can do for you.
Thuiswinkel.org also sees a strong growth in webshops that try to sell their products via social media and marketplaces. “These new online sales channels offer webshops and physical stores extra options. Retailers who have become active online in recent years are the first to be able to flexibly respond to consumers who are obliged to organize their lives from home, ”says Wijnand Jongen.
"What will the world look like after the restrictions / measures have been lifted? Online food delivery has had a huge boost and shopping online (PicNic, AH, Jumbo etc) has never been so busy. People are getting used to this way of ordering, in this sense, the proper organization of your eCommerce activities is more important than ever for any SME to multinational, ”says Jeroen Sonneveld.
Direct to consumer (D2C) brands have been making waves for the future of retail for several years. Bypassing standard distribution channels and targeting an integrated path from production to consumer, these brands have hit almost every retail business - from mattresses to fitness to health.
Logistics are crucial. A supplier's e-commerce platform is often not connected to direct sales channels; everything is geared to bulk deliveries to a relatively limited number of retailers and not to the fulfillment of hundreds of small orders. The stock will change much faster and more irregularly, so D2C suppliers need real-time insight, and of course the customer wants that too.
As consumers shift more of their spending from offline to online, D2C brands are likely to get a significant boost. Suppliers can respond well to this if they have an e-commerce platform and the mindset that can handle it.
The time of the coronavirus requires creative solutions. We see many good online initiatives to support your favorite coffee shop, restaurant or clothing store.
Explore the possibility to start a collaboration with an offline store. This target group of retailers is struggling and by working together you can increase your turnover on the one hand and broaden your target group on the other. Consider, for example, expanding your product range or offering discount promotions on certain products from a local company, which you then deliver.
Wijnand Jongen, director at Thuiswinkel.org, appeals to (web) stores and brand manufacturers to postpone the sales until after 1 June 2020. “To relieve the pressure on the (return) chain even further. Given the pressure throughout the chain, at web shops, distribution centers and carriers, we consider it unwise to put products on sale now. This way we can continue to guarantee that people can continue to receive their products at a fair price, ”says Wijnand Jongen.
Everyone has read the news, in which the Netherlands is massively hoarding. Especially toilet paper and long-life products were pulled from the shelves. Hoarding causes a huge peak load in the logistics process. What may be difficult to check in the physical stores can be done online, by setting a limit on the number of items to be ordered.
In China, hotels, restaurants, and movie theater chains, experiencing a massive drop in visitors or forced shutdown - have shared their workers with Hema (a digital-first Alibaba supermarket) that needed an urgent labor force for delivery services. Other omnichannel players, including Ele, Meituan, and JD's 7Fresh, have followed suit by borrowing labor from restaurants.
Because marketing is still seen as a cost item for many companies, the brakes are put on and campaigns are put on-hold. Understandable if you can no longer supply a product or service, but on the other hand, it is important now to remain active and visible for your target group.
Because of the measures, people are at home and online surfing behavior increases. With appropriate communication you can ensure that your market position is maintained and by purchasing smart advertising space you can generate more reach.
Stay in touch with your target audience. Not acting is not an option. So do not stop after announcing that you are closed, but keep communicating. Maintain a good relationship with your customers, followers, fans and ambassadors.