It’s a difficult and unprecedented time. As much of the nation follows government advice to stay at home, inventive pragmatism across the supply chain has seen many firms change tact and offer a derivative of their regular service. Teaching class from home, Joe Wicks’ live stream work outs and food retailers from high-end restaurants to local bakeries adding home delivery to their (website) menus.
An Ipsos MORI survey found 18% of UK respondents are using online shopping more frequently. Preparing your business for this increase in online sales is not exploiting the situation. Consumers will need to be shopping online due to isolation, and your business should be prepared. It is something to consider when preparing your new e-commerce strategy for COVID-19.
So, if you are thinking of pivoting your business toward e-commerce – be it a perishable food service or packaged goods – we’ve highlighted some thinking and tech-applications which may help you along that journey.
Equipping your business to sell from your website is surprisingly straightforward. Two simple ways are to add either sales pages or an e-Commerce plugin.
This is a fairly measured approach to change. Rather than offering the full retail experience, you simply add new pages which promote and detail the products and fulfilments you can now offer. e.g. www.MYBRAND.com/PRODUCTX-home-delivery-service
Be it ‘seasonal veg straight from the field’ or plumbing parts, explain your new online product options and delivery details. Use engaging photography and position the most profitable products in the most visible locations on your page – just like the supermarkets do.
Use Calls to Action and Contact Forms to capture your orders. Consider simplifying the sale by packaging your products in pre-prescribed bundles, with onscreen tick-boxes for users to select. And for long-term marketability, include an opt-in button for ongoing marketing communications.
Upon conversion, add a pop-up ‘thank you’ message or take them to a ‘thank you’ page. Job done. You can then contact your customers directly to arrange payment before you process the order.
If adding pages seems too pedestrian, add an ecommerce plugin instead.
The plugin options for converting your website to a fully functional online store have been growing more plentiful by the year. For example, leading website CMS WordPress has multiple free, e-commerce plugins, ready to transform your website from an information hub with contact-us mechanics, into a 24/7 retail outlet. Whatever you sell – you can be up and running in just a few minutes.
Plugins offer greater usability than adding a page, such as the full shopping cart and payment experience, and beautiful product galleries. You also might decide that you need an extension, or two, to improve your store’s functionality.
Although Amazon and many retail brands heavily promote next day/same day delivery, it is not essential. That said, many delivery companies do offer that option which means that you can choose which service level to offer your customers if you wish.
Clearly explain your delivery options/methods and your customers will welcome the fact you have gone the extra mile to satisfy their needs. And if it’s your own van delivering, that sense of personal, helpful service is just embedded all the deeper. Customers will happily wait a day or two for that.
In addition to the short-term cash value of your sales, you are providing a helpful service and adding long-term value to your brand. Customers will return – even after normal economic activity gets back on track.
If you’ve added retailing to your website you’ll need to let your customers know.
For visitors landing on your home page (or any page really) include an obvious banner across the top highlighting that your shop is now ‘open for business’. Include ‘Shop’ or ‘Buy Online’ buttons in your top navigation and drop down menus.
For the full monty, change your homepage hero images and/or image slider to emphasise, in no uncertain terms, that the shop is now open.
If you’ve not sold from your website before you will need to let your customers know that you are now. Even if you have been selling previously, you’ll need to let them know what you are selling currently.
Check Google Trends and Search Console (or have them checked) to see what’s trending. Construct targeted SEO and/or PPC advertising campaigns which pick up on the current search phrases which matter to you and to your audience.
For example, search volumes for ‘wallpaper’ and ‘matt finish paint’ have remained similar year-on-year suggesting that some types of DIY are carrying on regardless. A perfect occupation for self-isolation.
Search demand for ‘e-learning’, ‘electrical goods’ and ‘home schooling’ supplies has skyrocketed over the past week or so. As has ‘food delivery’, eclipsing the pre-Coronavirus upswing triggered by the Just Eat and Deliveroo advertising campaigns.
Yet many companies have reduced PPC spend, leaving those keywords cheaper and more clickable for your campaign.
Looking slightly ahead, with spring officially started and Easter coming, ‘garden nursery delivery’ and ‘local butchers delivery’ may also be key words to consider.
If you’re a business who relies on communication with your customers, then social media is your new face-to-face medium.
Activity is surging as online communities look to support and amuse one another – and share useful information and advice to get us through isolation. Use these channels to push out your ‘Open for business’ news to your local community – and beyond. There is also an opportunity for social good; such as discounts and offers of help for those who need it most.
The next few weeks will give businesses an opportunity to engage in the community in a new way, to advance their social standing and provide a valuable, much needed service.
Taking your first steps into onscreen retailing may seem daunting, but we are living in a changed time. Consumers are, out of necessity, increasingly turning to online shopping and looking for, and forward to, new suppliers. If your customers can’t get out to visit you, it may be worth considering you getting out to visit them.
If you’re unsure what these changes mean for you and your business, or would like advice on how to implement onscreen retailing into your website, get in touch with us!