It’s a strange time for the world of online retail. With a pandemic effectively keeping many of us trapped indoors (most of the time, at least), e-commerce sellers of many kinds are seeing significant spikes in business. This presents both challenges and opportunities.
On one hand, there are so many viable options out there that it’s hard to stand out — and shoppers are watching very closely to see how brands act. On the other hand, getting it right in this crisis will mean getting it really right and reaping the rewards.
So what do you need to optimize? Well, there are plenty of elements that go into a thriving e-commerce business, but one in particular that matters even more than usual at the moment is communication. Clarity of communication is absolutely essential, and in this post, we’re going to look at what you need to get right with your communication to do well as 2020 rolls on:
Show real appreciation for your customers
This isn’t a time for businesses to be dispassionate. We’re all facing difficulties, and working together is vital if we’re going to emerge from this pandemic with damage kept to a minimum. Core to this is appreciating one another. To whatever extent business can continue without causing any harm, it’s good for everyone, so sellers need to appreciate their customers.
That doesn’t just mean continuing any existing appreciation schemes (typically loyalty programs with tiered discounts and rewards): it also means making more of an effort in social media posts and website updates to explain how much your customers mean to you and how grateful you are that they’re continuing to buy from you in such complicated times.
This isn’t something to discontinue when the pandemic eventually stops shaping our lives, though. You should keep it up indefinitely. The more customers feel valued by the companies they buy from, the more loyalty they’ll develop, and the more willing they’ll be to send referrals.
Make the buying process optimally easy
It’s always been important to make the payment process easy, because any roadblock in the path to conversion gives the shopper a fresh opportunity to reconsider, cancel, and start looking elsewhere. Now that demand is so high — and people who have always stubbornly rejected online retail are being forced to consider it — the level of importance has gone up.
We’re already seeing an uptick in demand for fintech because of all the isolation, and you need to keep up by ensuring that your payment gateway is convenient and you’re accepting a decent range of payment options. This is fundamentally a matter of clarity because you also need to make it clear that you take various payment types: if people don’t know that you take PayPal, for instance, they won’t simply assume that support will be there.
Be honest about the struggles you’re facing
As noted, we’re all having troubles. Some businesses can’t function at all and are suspending their operations or even shutting down permanently. Others are learning how to operate remotely, navigating the murky waters of webcam meetings and flexible hours. Even the companies that are ostensibly flourishing (like online retailers) are struggling with issues like excess demand, employee health, and supply chain disruptions.
Because your business will surely be negatively affected somehow, you should be absolutely honest about what you’re dealing with. Not only will this mitigate the damage caused by any slowdowns in your operation or errors in your process, but it will also inspire empathy from people who will appreciate that you’re making such an effort in trying circumstances.
Demonstrate interest in more than just profit
You may have heard about those who decided that the best thing to do in the midst of a pandemic is buy important supplies and try to sell them on with huge profit margins. From a business standpoint, that makes sense, but it’s a disastrous move both ethically and when it comes to public perception. If you want people to stick by you, you need to show that you’re not just out to make as much money as possible.
To whatever extent you can support charitable efforts in your community, do so. Contribute time and any other resources you can spare. Again, this situation will come to a halt sooner or later, and when it does you can be sure that people will remember how you acted while it was causing so much havoc. Show that you deserve support and it’ll be there for you in years to come.
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