Best practice for the Covid-19 eCommerce boom

With examples from our clients

9 Sep 2020

Excellent e-commerce software now matters more than ever. Over the recent lockdowns, online shopping’s early adopters were joined by the rest of the world. More people got comfortable with buying online – and buying more kinds of products. What was once reserved for groceries and clothes has expanded to everything from restaurant meals to psychotherapy.

McKinsey predicted an increase in “customer service via web-based user accounts, social networks, mobile phones, and the internet” as more people wanted to buy online.

The behaviour shift is likely to be permanent Neilson predicts that even when things go back to a new normal, we’ll see “permanent shifts in the supply chain, the use of e-commerce and hygiene practices."

So, companies who had already embraced the possibilities of digital services didn’t just best weather the lockdown storm, they’re also poised for success as economies reopen.

Level up dispatch to meet new demand

While many companies had a digital offering available pre-lockdown, few could shift their business entirely online, almost overnight.

Our client, clothing company One Teaspoon, was an exception. A dispatch app tailored to One Teaspoon’s warehousing procedures allows pick-packers to move freely around the warehouse as they fill orders. This meant we increased their order-processing speed by 800%. While One Teaspoon was already entirely online, this well-honed dispatch system meant they were well-positioned to deal with a COVID-19-related uptick in orders during lockdowns and ongoing.

Offer virtual gift cards

Birthdays, babies and anniversaries don’t stop because people can’t go out. Virtual gift cards have therefore become popular, like those offered by department store Ballantynes. Sending something of real value without leaving the house, coming into contact with salespeople or dealing with postage was perfect during lockdown periods – and the convenience will continue to make it popular, especially for last-minute gifting.

Live chat for in-store customer service at home

Online shopping, while convenient, can mean customers miss out on sales support and brands reduce their time in front of customers. Live chat can fill those gaps – especially important at Zendesk on Burnsco, where reps are on hand to help customers choose the right outdoor, boating, fishing and RV equipment. Similarly, Driftchat on Health2000’s site and Facebook Messenger on Maxshop lets customers ask questions and get closer to the in-store experience.

Social media for in-situ product shots and recommendations

While ideally, you’d upload imagery of all your products in-situ, that’s far too expensive an exercise for most retailers. With links to social media, you can instead leverage imagery of your products in use by your customers, as sportswear brand Running Bare has done. This engaging and authentic content lets customers see what things look like in real life, on real bodies, combined with those all-important endorsements from real people.

Move towards sustainability

Online shoppers have one thing in common - they research. They have all the world's knowledge just one screen away from your shopping cart. More and more, online shoppers are making buying decisions based on the ethics and behaviour of retailers.

That's a trend Max Shop spotted a couple of years back when they moved their company towards sustainable business practices:

"We're on a journey of change to create products that are kinder to the earth, purposely using natural, sustainable, high-quality fabrics o consciously design beautiful garments that are made to love and last."

Pivot fast to meet customer demand

One aspect about the global pandemic is that things move fast, with customer demand shifting along with them. A flexible e-commerce platform lets you make changes on the fly, to seamlessly handle new product lines and price changes. For Smith & Caughey's, MaxCommerce effortlessly handles constant updates to everything from inventory to new promotions, pricing and sizes. And integrated with their ERP, it delivers accurate, real-time inventory data, so the site can match supply and demand.

Get insights and flexibility to launch new promotions fast

Similarly, success comes to businesses who can jump on new opportunities, or solve new problems. Spotting and responding to these takes data, as One Teaspoon discovered. Integrated with marketing automation, our retail platform MaxCommerce lets them make better use of the available consumer, sales and product data, highlighting shopping and buying trends and patterns at a glance. 

The platform’s flexibility also means employees can make fast changes to promotions as new insights come to light.

Offer customers an exceptional user interface

Just as your beautiful, on-brand in-store experience attracts and retains shoppers, so does your e-commerce experience. Nice to look at, on-brand and intuitive to use, an excellent UI will amplify marketing efforts and help you build brand loyalty.

While excellent UX design plays a crucial role in that, equally as important is choosing an e-commerce platform that offers an inherently intuitive operation.

Be ready for the new normal

If your business is not already digitally agile, the brave new world of online shopping – involving an overwhelming number of consumers – means now is the time to ramp up your e-commerce effort before you get left behind. All aspects of your operation can benefit from the right technology – dispatch apps to speed your deliveries, live chat to replicate the in-store experience, leveraged social media for in-situ product shots, customer-behaviour data to inform new offerings, and a flexible, beautiful user-friendly e-commerce platform that customers will love to visit.

Get ready for the future – it’s here now! For best-practice digital advice from the experts, talk to Solutionists today.

author:

Solutionists

date published:

9 Sep 2020