The Impact of COVID-19 on e-Commerce: Challenges and Solutions
On a quiet, empty street, a man locks the door to his store and flips the sign to "Closed till further notice". As he pockets the keys, he wonders when, or if, he will be able to give the notice at all.
He is one of the many people who have been forced to rethink their business strategy and make the shift to e-commerce due to COVID-19.
Since the spread of the virus, the number of online shoppers has risen and online sales have increased. Amazon has had to hire hundreds of thousands of employees in the US and increase workers' pay in various countries to meet the increase in demand. As of 21st April 2020, e-commerce orders in the US and Canada had a year-over-year growth of a stupefying 129%.
But e-commerce itself has suffered a jolt due to the global pandemic. Disruptions in supply chains, surges and sharp drops in orders, and behavior changes in customers are just a few things they have had to deal with. Adaptability in business has rarely been so pressing a need.
The pandemic will likely have a lasting impact on e-commerce. Here's what you can do to adapt – and you can do it best by hiring an e-commerce website development company to avoid any hiccups along the way.
How Your Business Can Still Thrive
- Reach New Audiences With Web Stores
That is, in new markets and locations. This strategy will allow you to not only support existing customers who have been otherwise cut off from you, but ensure a stream of revenue. Start small by launching web stores, through an e-commerce website design company, where you currently have a physical store. Then you can move onto regions where you do not.
You can also consider launching an e-commerce website for B2C or D2C, which could help you circumvent disruptions in the supply chain.
- Encourage Your Customers to Shop Online
Your first line of defence against COVID-19's effects on e-commerce is this: If brick-and-mortar is your modus operandi, your customers may not realize you are offering your goods or services online.
Send them an email and put up a message on your website that specifies you are still open for business, and make your customer's shift as seamless as possible. To do this, you can establish bots, FAQs, and a customer service line.
- Take Care of Supply Chain Disruptions
A poll by the Institute of Supply Chain Management in March found that almost three quarters of companies had already reported supply chain disruptions. This, obviously, was due to the restrictions on transportation and closures of establishments.
It can seem out of your hands, but there are certain things you can do to deal with these disruptions. With custom web development services, you can delay the loading of some web page elements and ensure that you have the correct web store host to support your website; in short, optimize your website to deal with spikes in demand.
Your web store should be able to let customers track deliveries, display real-time pricing and stock levels (including marking items that are out of stock), and inform them of when items will be back in stock.
- Your Customer Shouldn't Cringe at Your Returns Process
Returning items is stressful enough during normal times – it is enough to turn a user away from your website entirely during quarantine or lockdown. Test your website thoroughly before it goes live and make sure the returns process is easy and short, so that you won't get an influx of emails and calls demanding when you're going to take back that broken crockery set.
- Have an Excellent Idea of What People Are and Are Not Buying Online
This is a general rule of thumb, but it applies specially in the context of a global pandemic. For instance, people are currently buying food and beverages, gifts and specialty items, toys and games, accessories and apparel, and home and garden items. They are not buying luggage, swimwear, and store fixtures and displays, among other things.
- Be Considerate of Your Customers
You may have heard that the Royal Opera House is streaming free opera and ballet online. And that Moscow's Bolshoi is live-streaming shows for free. And that several websites have offered everything from calculus classes to knitting lessons for free.
All of these companies are doing the crucial work of taking care of their customers during a time of crisis. Not via material necessities like PPE kits or food, but through a sort of emotional safety net, a little hammock made of honed arts that brings comfort and joy.
You can highlight services or products that benefit your customer specifically in this period, or offer free goodies or additional services, from working in a takeout menu to waiving or delaying fees. Your customers will remember it, and your business will thank you for it in the long run.
Another good idea is prioritizing old and existing customers over new ones who may or may not stick around.
- Customize Security. No, Really
To tackle COVID-19's effects on e-commerce, companies should take an adaptive or "customized" approach to managing the experience of friction customers. In real-time, broaden the dataset used for personalizing adaptive friction approaches. Know the IP risk, custom data, geolocation, user type, and more for your strategy.
- Don't Forget Your B2B Customers!
It will not be enough to sell to B2C customers. You need to make sure you have a reliable and convenient app for your B2B customers, too, so they will pick you over your competitors. Consequently, your app will need to avoid order errors (this one's important!), show information that is relevant, handle complex orders, and offer optimized functions.
All of these are the signs of a company that others would not only buy from but also give their loyalty to.
- Reassure Your Customers That Their Items Are Packaged Hygienically
Customers will be more likely to buy from you if they know their packages are being handled with care and clean hands. Add a small banner or note on your website informing them that they are in safe hands.
The future is now.
Due to the intense online competition that will inevitably explode in the post-COVID world, your best bet is hiring a company like BluEnt. We are a website development company and offer custom web application development services.
We can give you a complete and accessible web solution that works on both mobile and the web and ensures that your customer has no complaints in the UX and UI departments.
BluEnt specializes in app maintenance and migration, workflow, solving business problems, reengineering and redesigning apps, app infrastructure management, collaboration portal development, and much more. For e-commerce app development, BluEnt is your one-stop solution.
We cater to various industries, including but not limited to healthcare, gaming, and AEC. Our services have been used by everyone from HBO to Columbia University.
Maximum Value. Achieved.