The coronavirus is raising the visibility of e-ommerce among consumers. Merchants, especially those selling so-called “essential” goods, have experienced a boost in sales.
Thus Covid-19 represents an opportunity for online sellers to retain new customers over the long term, not just during the temporary shelter-in-place restrictions. But many merchants are failing to capitalize. Even though the world is in quarantine and almost everybody is at home, it’s important to keep in touch with your customers or otherwise, you’ll lose them.
What follows are tips to consider now, to help retain those new customers when the pandemic passes.
Get inventory counts under control. The forgiveness level of overselling published inventory has decreased substantially. With such a large amount of retailers running out, consumers are scrambling online to seek out everyday essentials and trending products.
Avoid canceling orders in any part. Cancellations usually generate the loudest complaints on social media, affecting both short- and long-term sales.
Convey accurate future availability. Err on the side of caution when displaying lead times on both out-of-stock and custom products. With supply chain and workforce interruptions, it’s best to extend the availability date and surprise customers with early deliveries. If an out-of-stock item won’t likely return any time soon, consider disabling it from the store’s browse and search results.
Send tracking numbers as soon as items ship. Merchants have no control over carrier delays. But keeping customers aware of when their order left your hands can lessen customer service inquires while maintaining the promise of fast turnaround times. Politely remind customers that you simply did your part.
Provide personalized service. Take whatever steps you can to personalize the shopping experience. Send order status updates and follow-up emails. Find ways to reach out later, too, so shoppers will remember your company.
Engage Through Social Media. As of 2018, a whopping 2.65 billion people are on social media, and this number is expected to increase to 3.1 billion by 2021. Having a robust social media presence can be the difference between a customer staying and churning, social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have changed the way brands communicate with their customers. These social media platforms are where your customers are most comfortable. They leave reviews, discuss buying decisions, and express their opinion on your business. You can monitor your social media through mentions, hashtags, and direct posts. Reply to any questions and concerns, and make customers who share positive things about your brand feel recognized and cherished.
Create a social media marketing strategy for reaching your customers on every platform. Keep in mind that engaging with your customers through social media is not about advertising. The last thing they want is for you to shove your ads down their throats. Your goal is to create valuable contributions and establish a long-lasting relationship with your customers.
Offer discounts. Now is a good time to entice long-term purchases with discounts, offering discounts is a great way to encourage online shopping while your customers are staying home anyway. You can easily create discount codes for your customers on Tradift.
Update your customers on how COVID-19 has affected your business. The COVID-19 outbreak has been hard on everyone – young and old, rich and poor. In the business world, the pandemic is affecting different types of businesses from various industries. Whatever is going on in your industry, make sure to share it with your customers. After all, transparency is the key to building trust.
You can send email blasts, post on social media platforms, or upload a video. Inform your customers if there are any changes to your services, deliveries, etc. Even if there’s not much change that been going on in your industry, it’s a good idea to recognize the crisis and show your support for the front-liners.
Don’t over-capitalize. Perception is everything. Don’t give shoppers the impression you’re only about making money. Find unique ways to maintain a personal connection beyond selling products. Give back and help out.
Extend the return and exchange period. It’s unfair to expect home-bound customers to pack and ship returns unless you provide pre-paid shipping labels and pickup service.
Avoid jokes or politics. Forget about sharing memes that make fun of the virus or politicians. Not everyone finds humor in the pandemic or agrees with your political views.
Don’t focus on the quick sale. A good number of e-commerce sites are seeing more traffic and orders. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to the long-term. Make even first-time, low-budget customers feel special.
Prioritize orders over revenue. Temporarily shift from the “fewer sales, higher profit” mentality to helping as many consumers as you can. That means focusing on orders more than revenue. Consumers are presumably putting off big-ticket purchases during Covid-19, anyway. Thus it is sensible to embrace smaller orders from first-time buyers to enable a long-term relationship.
Provide outstanding customer support. Excellent customer service creates loyal customers for life who are willing to refer your business to friends, family, and colleagues. Customers often end their relationship with a brand because of poor customer service. So it’s important to provide the best customer service possible, especially when they don’t have the greatest experience with your products.
Recognize shifts in buying habits. With states enacting “stay-at-home” orders, many brick-and-mortar stores have closed. Not all of them will survive. This makes e-commerce more important than ever. Study changes in shopping habits and use them to your advantage. Many newer and smaller brands will come out of pandemic stronger — with new, loyal customers.