As the coronavirus pandemic grips the world, the vast majority of businesses are working hard to adjust their strategies. For example, we have a weekly eCommerce podcast, Surge, which we are now recording remotely over Zoom to maintain guidelines on social distancing. Ask any business and they’ll give you a myriad of answers on how they are adapting to deal with the current climate.
Adjustments For Small Businesses Struggling During the COVID-19 Crisis
As an eCommerce company, some of our clients are panicking, but the ones who aren’t are actually seeing great results. Great results are not necessarily sales, but rather progress. They’re still making progress because they’re keeping their composure during these times and adapting.
Whether their core demographic slightly changed from B2B to B2C, they’re adapting. The eCommerce standpoint varies based on industry, and there’s no consistency across the board. It’s pretty up and down.
At Optimum 7, we have three types of clients. The first type of client is a retail business. These comprise three percent of our client base, and they are the worst affected. Retail businesses had some online operations, but they were also doing higher volumes. Now they have to shut down for public safety. Those are the ones that cancel their contracts and agreements with us.
The second type of client is affected, but they’re only down around 15% to 20%. This type of client is down business-wise, and movement-wise, they’re a little frozen. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel right now in terms of their perspective. They don’t know what to do. So they’re keeping everything as is, but also watching the numbers.
The third type of client sees this as an opportunity. They’re thinking, “This is the best way for me to beat my competition and the best time for me to acquire new clients and customers”. Rather than going into defense mode, they’re on the offense. (This is the type of client that is doing the best).
Let’s talk about client satisfaction from an eCommerce standpoint. Obviously, everybody needs to stay home, but if you’re an eCommerce business and you have to ship, you can’t stay inside. You need to pack boxes and prepare to mail them.
We’ve seen some of our clients decrease their warehouse staff by 50 to 60% but they’re still shipping. This means they are operational. Then we have clients who have doubled and tripled in terms of sales volume. People who sell vitamins are one such example.
We even have a client who sells RC hobby equipment. That skyrocketed because everybody’s stuck at home with their kids.
Client Satisfaction & Customer Retention for eCommerce Businesses
So what do say about client satisfaction?
That’s the first thing we’re going to talk about if you’re an eCommerce business. Make sure to take care of your clients and make sure they’re happy.
Talk to us about that.
Customer retention right now is more important than ever. We do have clients that on the other end have actually had to increase their warehouse staff to deal with the fulfillment and the demand that they’re getting right now.
You’re really seeing two different ends of the spectrum here. Regardless of which spectrum you’re on right now, customer retention is extremely important. Ensure that fulfillment is running smoothly so that they’re staying operational, that their shipping times are not getting delayed and there is no fluctuation there that could turn off your existing customers.
Stay consistent and create incentives. Right now, people are pinching pennies, some are more than others. They’re being a little bit more cautious about what they’re buying.
Give your customers an incentive right now. Help them out a little bit because at the end of the day, they will remember that when things get better and they will come back.
You have to stay operational. Don’t just close your doors. And even if you’re getting 15 to 30 orders, you have to stay operational. We actually have clients now who are losing money but they’re staying in business.
If you lose your customers to somebody else, you will not be able to come back when the shutdowns are listed. This is the time to retain those customers.
We suggest from a business standpoint is to minimize your expenses and accounts payable to stay in business. If you are truly affected by this pandemic, stay in business. You have to stay in business because there is going to be a big spike. We’re expecting that to be Q3 from an eCommerce standpoint because there’s a lot of pent up demand.
Improving Online Sales & Conversions for eCommerce Businesses during COVID-19
And the third thing that we want to look at is conversions. What can you do right now if you’re an eCommerce business owner?
Customer retention is big. Before the pandemic, things were going great. Sales and the economy were up. Now that things are kind of slow, conversions are more important than ever.
Why do we keep saying that?
Know that your visibility and traffic are going to go down. Get the most out of the traffic that you are currently getting. Emphasize and put your focus on the little bit of traffic that you might be getting right now.
How can you now convert those users?
We believe that you can improve twenty items on your mobile versions. Have your sticky menus and sticky calls to actions.
Make sure that your mobile version’s “add to cart” feature on product pages is above the fold. Have an exit intent pop up to grab email addresses. Sustain email nurture through a tool like a Mailchimp or a cloud view or something like that. Implement abandoned cart notifications.
You cannot afford to lose a sale right now. So you have to pay attention to all of these different elements like you’ve never paid attention to them before.
The next element we’re going to talk about is client acquisition. So it’s very important now. Client acquisition is going to be lower unless you are in a booming industry like supplements, anything for the elderly, medical supplies, or remote conference equipment. We just bought 600 to $700 worth of remote conferencing equipment with new microphones and cameras.
Unless you are in that space, your client acquisition is going to decrease. Keep your customers and clients right now.
So where’s the opportunity? Let’s not be on the defense, let’s be on the offense. How can I acquire my competitors’ customers now?
Be aggressive. Your competitors aren’t being that aggressive right now. For the most part, they’re pulling back the reins, leaving the door wide open for you to come in.
Go after the consumers or the target demographic that typically your competitors have more market share over. They’re leaving the door wide open for you.
Go after that. Increase your ad spend and the visibility of your site. Invest in your business and therefore you will see a return right now.
We are seeing fluctuations in cost per click due to the competitiveness going down. Get cheaper clicks and more bang for your buck in terms of visibility.
Here’s the cherry on top: now you’re potentially going to be acquiring a new business that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Once your competitors flooded that space. Now they no longer do.
We’re following a similar strategy right now. The US competitors in software and marketing are decreasing their budgets. In contrast, we are increasing budgets.
In the background, we have all of our funnels and nurture ready. We don’t want to increase your ad spend or increase your ad words or Facebook budgets unless your primary and secondary form versions ready are.
The primary form version for Optimum7 is somebody contacting us through a lead form. A secondary call to action or secondary form version for us is when they download the top 90 technology and eCommerce tool PDF files that we have. They then enter it into nurture.
Do you have your nurture ready? Do you have your conversions optimized? You want visitor traffic with leverage. This is the best time to steal your competitors’ clients and customers.
“Fixing Your Roof”
Should you fix your roof and update business maintenance? Why is this very important right now?
If things are slow, you get to think about the action that you don’t have if you have employees. If you have more than five to ten employees, they’re not bugging you every single time knocking on your door. That’s the challenge that I have on a daily basis.
What is fixing your roof?
It means handling maintenance on features that you were putting off. The phrase comes from the tale of a fiddler in Arkansas. He argued with a traveler, who suggested he fix the leak in his roof. The fiddler says he can’t repair the roof on a rainy day, and he doesn’t want to waste a sunny day doing so. Do not be the fiddler; make the repairs you need to prevent leaks.
Now is the time to work on the internal aspect of your business. Where can you improve, how can you streamline, how can you automate? How can you improve your backend operation to like you said, to be able to handle that increase in clients or customers coming in?
Whether you want it or not, you’ve got this break. You can actually take the time to do that because before you never got around to it because you were too busy. Go in, take a look at your internal operations and optimize accordingly.
If you are Magento 1, this is the time to take your government check. They’re going to start giving it away in a few days. Take your government check and do that migration. Migrate out on Magento 1 because you have to do it.
If you have thousands of products and you don’t have an advanced search and filters on your site, this is the time to implement that. Are you not optimized or integrated with your internal inventory management tool? Do you lack forecasting counts with your purchase orders from your suppliers, as well as EDI integration or API integration with your suppliers that automates your dropshipping or your order processes? Now is the time to do that.
This is how our smart clients are reacting to this pandemic. They’re thinking, “What can I improve? What can I increase? Where’s the lowest hanging fruit and how can I get ready for that boom?”
Make no mistake that the boom will happen by this year’s third quarter. If you don’t believe us, look at the reports from Goldman Sachs and eMarketer. You’re going to see that there’s going to be a big spike in demand both in B2B and B2C in Q3.
Anything else that we missed?
Indoor and outdoor games are booming. You would’ve thought that luxury goods or non-essentials would have taken a hit. In fact, the self quarantining and the social distancing has only led to an increase in wanting to purchase board games, RC cars, and other tools that’ll help keep your sanity during these times.
We’ve seen a huge increase in the demand for bikes, which is pretty crazy. You’re told not to go outside. Plan B is using indoor exercise equipment.
Add alcohol and booze to that list. No one will ever give up drinking. Alcohol is labeled as an essential business. It will never shut down.
Two weeks in, we’re seeing things that we couldn’t really possibly have known. It’s very interesting to see the way that the market’s moving around.
That’s about it for this week. We hope to talk to you soon.
Do you need help finding opportunity during Coronavirus?
Our eCommerce experts are here to help. We’re all in this together.