Coronavirus and eCommerce: How to Thrive in Challenging Times

The Coronavirus pandemic is arguably the greatest challenge the world has faced since the Second World War. Aside from the obvious impact on health and wellbeing, the wider social and economic effect is likely to last for many years to come. So, what can eCommerce businesses do to ensure they continue to thrive in these uncertain times? How do you put yourself in a position to hit the ground running after the pandemic?

Coronavirus and UK eCommerce

With people being required to stay at home and storefront businesses being forced to close, it is clear that online retailers are in a much stronger position than most. Some sources report that UK eCommerce sales could rise to as much as 40% of all retail spend, but dig a little deeper and it’s not quite so clear cut.

Firstly, the wider economic impact of coronavirus is likely to be huge, with many businesses facing an uncertain future and people fearing they could lose their jobs. In addition, there will be short-term winners and losers in amongst the chaos, as people prioritise buying essential items and cut back on luxuries. This is likely to change as things settle down, but it’s still worth keeping in mind.

Despite this, we expect there will be many opportunities for savvy retailers who are able to quickly adapt to changing needs, demands and preferences.

There is also the potential for this crisis to change shopping habits forever. For example, older people who have been forced into shopping online for the first time may continue to do so long after high-street retailers are back open again. For offline businesses, now could be a good time to venture into eCommerce for the very first time.

Ultimately, the long-term impact of the Coronavirus outbreak remains to be seen, but it will be the strongest brands that survive and thrive. So, how do you make sure you are one of those brands?

1. Weather the initial storm

Put plans in place to continue business while protecting your customers and employees. This will involve many different things, from operations and supply chains to HR, finance and marketing.

If cash is tight, it’s well worth speaking to suppliers and creditors to see what they can offer you. Be sure to also investigate what help you could be entitled to from the government

2. Reassure your customers

In challenging times, people naturally look for reassurance and certainty. While this might be difficult to find in the wider world, it is the job of your business to reassure your customers that you are doing everything you possibly can to protect and serve them.

In practical terms, this means clearly communicating how you are dealing with the crisis, and any changes to the way you are conducting business. For example, use your website and social media channels to inform customers of any issues that might affect them, like extended delivery times or details of unavailable items.

3. Don’t forget marketing

When things get tough, marketing budgets are often one of the first things to be cut. Despite this, it’s actually really important to keep your marketing going and let people know that you are still very much open for business. 

Instead, adapt your marketing strategies to the current situation and really put yourself into your customer’s shoes. How do they feel? What help do they need? How can you address their fears? Always ensure that your message is sensitive to the public mood and provides the kind of leadership people are crying out for in the current climate.

4. Recognise the opportunities

A crisis like this actually brings many opportunities. For example, it’s a perfect time to modernise working practices and better utilise communication tools like Skype, Zoom and Slack. 

For traditional offline businesses, now might the time to start selling online for the very first time. If you currently have a static website, can this be converted into a fully functioning eCommerce site? You might also consider diversifying your channels, like also selling through Amazon or even eBay.

5. Take a long-term approach

Finally, the businesses that thrive the most are likely to be those that take a long-term approach and continually tweak and adapt their strategy to suit the “new normal.” 

If there’s anything we can help with, please get in touch for some friendly and helpful advice.

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