There are a lot of uncertainties affecting the market right now, but the e-commerce landscape is among the least affected at the moment. Brands are still launching new products to the market; the recent launch of the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro is a solid reminder that the tech industry is still going strong. Customers are actively buying new products and engaging with e-commerce sites on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, things are about the become more difficult and the market is showing definite signs of slowing down. A lot of e-commerce sites are already making preparations for the slowdown, reducing their inventory levels and making sure that they have enough cash reserves to remain operational. If you are an e-commerce startup owner, making preparations for the future of your business is a must.
Watch Your Traffic
The first thing you want to do is gain a better understanding of how the market moves and shifts, and the primary indicator to monitor is the traffic coming to your e-commerce site. Traffic could increase significantly, but conversion and sales may not. These are clear signs of a slowdown, which means you need to take further steps to prepare your e-commerce business.
Traffic is also an indicator of people staying home more. An increase in traffic to e-commerce sites has been reported since more people have been ordered to work from home. Instead of spending time window shopping, customers now browse e-commerce sites for the same purpose. That doesn’t mean that they will not make a purchase.
Upon seeing these signs, begin tweaking the UX of your e-commerce store to allow for better, more comfortable browsing. Forget about pushing that extra discount or cross-selling additional items. Now is the time to pamper users with a smooth user experience, extensive product information, and additional content that will keep them interested.
Invest in Content
Speaking of content, there is no better time to invest in good content than right now. Customers may not be buying products and services as much as they used to, but that doesn’t mean they will not consume great content while browsing the internet. Instead of pushing for extra sales, focus on keeping your e-commerce site recognisable.
Valuable content is easy to produce. You can write articles and post them regularly on the blog of your site. You can produce videos without investing too much in cameras and other gear. You can even start a podcast and share knowledge with a wider audience. The only thing to keep in mind is that you need to stick to relevant topics when making your content.
Go a step further and host live streams and sessions. Live sessions are more attractive to users because they have the ability to interact with you and your brand directly. Invite speakers and key opinion leaders to join your live sessions. That is how you reach a wider audience and develop your brand at the same time.
Go for Branding
That brings us to our next step, which is boosting your branding efforts. Not all e-commerce sites have strong brands. The ones that do are more likely to retain their customers and survive the crisis. Branding becomes as important as UX and UI in a market as competitive as today; it will be even more important in the post-crisis market.
If you are already producing content to please a wider audience, you are on the right track. You can continue running campaigns that solidify your brand through social media platforms and other channels. You can branch out to new platforms as well, including informative sites like Technuter. Don’t hesitate to share behind-the-scene stories with us.
A key component of branding at a time like this is empathy. You have to understand what your customers – your market segment – are experiencing in general. The more you understand, the easier it will be to craft content that aligns well with the audiences’ needs. That is how you connect with potential (and existing) customers on a more personal level.
With branding in the pipeline, it is time to add one more layer of communications: relationship building. You need to stop remarketing and retargeting campaigns to prevent giving off the wrong impression to the audience. At the very least, you want to repurpose those campaigns to distribute valuable information and interact with your customers.
Ask how the customers are doing and offer help in a genuine way. Even if you have to run promotional campaigns, make sure they are relevant and contextual to avoid appearing insensitive as a business. When customers reach out, be ready to provide responses. The same principles can be adapted to your social media communications.
Showing genuine care for customers is a surefire way to stronger relationships. You don’t have to worry about winning the audience base back after the crisis if you spend enough time and energy maintaining relationships during this difficult time. The customers will appreciate what you do and the simple gestures that you make.
Return to Bootstrapping
If there is a time to go back to bootstrapping, that time is now. You have to be willing to review all of the expenses associated with keeping your e-commerce business going. Cut unnecessary expenses and only invest in activities or things that bring long-term benefits to the company. Going for quick wins and short-term gains is not the kind of gamble you want to make.
Reducing expenses is a lot easier than you think. We’ve talked about limiting inventory and reducing risks by eliminating certain marketing campaigns. You can continue by scaling back your operations, cloud infrastructure, and other elements of the business as needed. The money you save can be allocated towards other, more important posts.
The real challenge is overhead costs, especially costs associated with employees or team members. As easy as it may be to reduce employees to cut costs, the approach is not one you want to take. In fact, you need to invest more in team members and employees in order to reap long-term gains that are good for the business.
Invest in Employees
Yes, what you need to be doing is investing in your employees. Provide them with time to develop personally. There are countless courses – including free ones – on specific topics. They can complete those courses to gain new skills, sharpen existing ones, and to grow as team members. Host sharing sessions to team members can communicate with each other.
You can even persuade employees to pursue higher degrees. Aston University Online has an interesting article on careers that MSc Business and Management graduates can pursue. The business and management course can help employees prepare for positions such as marketing manager, finance manager, and sales manager. At the end of the course, they will not only have new skills to bring to the table, but also a better understanding of their respective fields.
Other ways to invest in your employees include making sure that they are doing well throughout the crisis. This means leveraging remote working, doing regular checks to ensure their wellbeing, and providing employees with the tools and resources that they need to remain productive. These are simple steps that really show how much you care.
Last but not least, never forget that you are not alone. This is a crisis faced by many businesses and business owners, and there are a lot of lifelines available to help you get through it. The government is making grants and business loans available. Organisations are actively assisting small and medium businesses in navigating the challenges of this crisis. Once again, you are not alone.
Don’t hesitate to seek help if you run into issues with keeping your e-commerce business running healthily. For example, you can seek help in restructuring business loans or postponing the payments of existing loans if necessary. You have to focus on maintaining a healthy cash flow and these simple steps – and the assistance you can get in the process – will really help.
Earn the support of your employees too. They can contribute a lot to the survival of the business. You will be amazed by the brilliant ideas, new innovations, and the extra energy they bring to the table. The survival of the company determines the future of employees or team members too, so don’t be afraid to get them involved in keeping the company going.
Don’t wait until you start facing difficulties and having trouble maintaining a healthy cash flow. The sooner you start applying the tips and tricks we discussed in this article, the higher your chances of surviving this crisis. Yes, you can look for the signs and make preparations then, but there is no such thing as being too careful or starting too early when it comes to protecting your business.
As an added bonus, make health and safety a priority. The crisis is caused by a pandemic, and it needs to be treated as one. Now that you know how to keep the company going smoothly through the crisis, you can also put more attention to keeping everyone in the company protected and healthy.