It goes without saying, but the current time and next several weeks or more will be an incredibly strenuous time for everyone. First and foremost, we wish everyone good health and safety. Follow the rules, practice social distancing, and protect both yourself and others around you as best as you can.
Beyond everyone's health and well being, the economy is taking an unprecedented hit. For brands in the retail business, with stores shut down and causing significant losses in revenue, it's important to get through this time as intact as possible. E-commerce can be the most important channel, and for many, the only channel, to sell through.
With that, it's important to sustain and, where possible, invest wisely in e-commerce at the current time. To help all retailers in this time, we’ve compiled our top 8 low investment & high return tactics to keep your business going as strongly as possible during this economic downturn.
1. Communicate Early, Often, & Clearly.
Make sure your customers know that you are still shipping products, that stores are closed, and outline any delays in shipping estimates. There are multiple places to add your messaging, including:
The promotional banner at the top of your site
Adding in a site-wide pop in on first landing
Product detail page when adding a product to the cart
Checkout page, right before checking out
In all emails, including a newsletter, your welcome series, and all relevant transactional emails
On the packaging itself, or within packages, so customers know you are taking precautions around their safety
Communicating clearly and effectively will garner trust, reduce customer confusion, and add to your customer loyalty.
2. Create Valuable Offers For Past Customers.
Everyone knows it is much more difficult to gain new customers versus retainer current customers. With the current situation, people are less likely to make a discretionary purchase; however, with a valuable offer, a past client that has shown interest could turn into a conversion. Some potential offers to include:
A discount code with a time limit for purchase
A special gift with any purchase
Free shipping for all purchases
A digital product as a complimentary bonus
A donation to a charity working on the current situation
3. Make Your Customers Feel Special.
Your customers are your lifeline in these uncertain times. By instituting special care with each and every customer, you will create and maintain a long term connection with them that will last beyond this situation.
Sure, it might be incredibly time consuming to write a hand-written note to every single customer thanking them deeply for their purchase. That person, however, is much more likely to remember you and share that letter with their friends during all of their FaceTime catch ups.
4. Invest For The Long Term.
If there is a project or update that you've been holding off on, and you have the opportunity and funds to fix it, now is the time. When the economy does re-stabilize, you'll be better positioned for the future than most of your competitors and able to capture more market share as a result.
For example, if you have significant technical debt, eliminating that technical debt through a code optimization or a migration to a new out-of-the-box theme can be a relatively low cost investment that provides immediate dividends. With load time being the number 1 reason why people leave sites, technical debt can inhibit conversions, in some cases significantly. Technical debt also adds to future development costs by a significant and exponential factor the more you accumulate.
Another example would be to optimize your checkout flow, specifically on the PLP & PDP. Running a handful of user tests through a service like User Testing is a fast, low cost way to identify missed opportunities to cut down on customer friction in the path to purchase.
5. Can't Ship? Switch To Notify Me.
Certain warehouses are shutting down, and retailers are having to react accordingly. Instead of shutting down e-commerce purchases altogether, provide customers with the ability to be notified when you are shipping again, similar to a traditional Notify Me.
By doing this, you are keeping those customers in the purchasing loop and hopefully getting that conversion later on. Do watch out for inventory issues, though, if you have fewer inventory than requests for your products, and message around those limitations.
6. Feature Home Friendly Products When Merchandising.
If you're an apparel company and you have a sleepwear line, it would be a good time to merchandise those products highly and send relevant emails about them. You can also create kits or bundles for mental health and physical health and well being while people are in their confined spaces. If you’re in the home décor space, people are in their homes more and may want to organize their spaces better to help with mental peace and calm.
In addition, creating campaigns around particular products / product lines for people to share on social media can help showcase how you’re helping people stay safe. People need a bit of joy right now, so any campaign that can be centered around staying upbeat and, if possible, tailored towards a particular charity or organization that needs support will do well. Make sure to balance any campaign with the moment and remain sensitive while getting creative!
7. Create A Digital Product.
If you have a book or set of books in your collection, and they are not in a digital format right now, it would be a good time to convert them into a digital format for easy consumption. They can be for sale or for free, even if temporarily, as a nice way for customers to experience your brand, your ethos, or anything else you'd like to showcase.
8. Be Ready.
If there are currently major variables in your business, such as the potential for significantly reduced customer service personnel or your warehouse shutting down, it's imperative to have messaging ready, and developers on call for any needs that may become urgent. Make sure to be prepared for any potential situations as best you can, and make all arrangements as quickly as possible.
Bonus: Respect The Moment & Follow The Rules.
This won't help your ecommerce sales, but much more importantly, it will help people survive all of this with their physical and mental health intact. Practice social distancing. Sneeze into your elbow. Support local businesses. Don't take this lightly.
We are all in this together, we are all working our way through this uncharted territory, and as such let's all work together to help each other. With that, I sincerely hope that this blog post helps both your business and the overall sentiment in this current situation.
Lastly, we are offering a complimentary consultation to any brands looking to dive deeper into these tactics. We are also actively donating to charities and causes in serious need as much as we can, and ordering food from local restaurants daily. This is our way of helping small businesses survive this moment. We encourage everyone to help small businesses and healthcare workers as much as possible, in whatever ways you can.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and the line is always open.