Read why eCommerce is booming during the coronavirus, and how businesses can retain those customers after the crisis passes.
During these days of the coronavirus outbreak, you might have a hard time picturing a return to normal business conditions. Still, you can already see signs that preventative measures have begun to flatten the curve and even turn it around. Doctors and scientists have remained optimistic that they can devise better treatments and effective vaccines rapidly. Hopefully soon, people can start to resume normal activities and companies can reopen their doors.
Still, most marketers expect at least some of the dramatic changes to consumer behavior to last. More specifically, one sector of the economy, eCommerce, has boomed. With that in mind, it’s important to address eCommerce management and marketing strategies that will ensure that you can retain the gains you may have made for a long time after the coronavirus crisis passes.
How has eCommerce marketing fared during the coronavirus outbreak?
To understand how rapidly eCommerce has grown, take a look at one particular segment, food and beverages. According to eMarketer, they had previously forecasted eCommerce sales for food and beverages would increase during 2020. The pre-coronavirus forecasts predicted growth of over 23 percent and over $32 billion in revenues for the year. While eCommerce had only accounted for 3.2 percent of all receipts in this market, they had suggested food and beverage as an example of a segment of eCommerce niche without much current penetration and plenty of room for growth.
Before the crisis, retailers marketing on Amazon may have also enjoyed brisk growth because of the way the largest online retailer had improved logistics to provide quick deliveries. Even though Amazon ranks first in overall eCommerce, it is not the only source of food and beverage. In fact, a large segment of that market also goes to grocers and independent direct-to-consumer companies.
In any case, you should inform yourself by looking at the surge during the first months of coronavirus stay-at-home orders:
- Just within the three days between March 12 and March 15, a comparison of that same time period from last year showed that orders in that sector boomed by over 200 percent.
- Another survey sampled the time period between March 1 and March 25, and found 183-percent growth.
- A poll of consumer behavior between March 1 and March 25 found that American adults reported increasing their online grocery shopping from about 11 percent to 37 percent. Even more, eMarketer reported that shopping online grew steadily more common each week by the middle of March.
Will marketing my product online continue to grow after the coronavirus?
Obviously, people have increasingly turned to eCommerce because they want to avoid crowded grocery stores during the crisis. Also, some retailers have limited hours or even temporarily closed, so consumers need a convenient alternative. Still, you can look at past consumer behavior to predict that many of these consumers will continue to shop online after the outbreak.
Predictably, eCommerce spending has surged during the last quarter of each year. Still, it doesn’t die down after the holiday season ends to the the previous first-quarter levels. Multiple-year charts look more like an ascending staircase than like a series of peaks and valleys. During successive years, sales will surge again the next fourth quarter to even higher levels than the year before. This suggests that once consumers get used to shopping online, they tend to keep the habit.
Which eCommerce website management and marketing strategies will help you retain customers after the coronavirus?
Certainly, shoppers will still return to retail outlets after the crisis passes. At the same time, it’s fair to predict that they will also continue to spend more money online than they did before the pandemic. Even if consumers just switched out the equivalent of one out of ten of their normal shopping trips for an online order, it would have a tremendous impact on eCommerce growth.
Of course, you may have plenty of online competition in your niche and cannot guarantee that all of the customers you attracted during the outbreak will return to your business. These eCommerce marketing suggestions can help you retain more of your customers now and in the future:
If you’ve done any consumable marketing on Amazon, Shopify, or even your own eCommerce site, you’ve probably run into subscription orders. You often see them for such consumer goods as coffee and dog food, and they let customers create a recurring order every month, typically at a discount. Such DTC companies as Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron also rely upon the subscription model. They tend to work particularly well in such categories as food, pet food, and beauty.
According to McKinsey Research, the overall subscription market has increased by 100 percent a year, and about 15 percent of all consumers say they have used subscriptions for convenient, repeat ordering at least one time. The model particularly appears to appeal to younger adults who live in urban areas and earn at least $50,000 a year.
Consumers who take advantage of subscription purchases say they enjoy the convenience and value; however, they also say they’re quick to cancel if they don’t receive high-quality service and products. If you decide to offer subscription ordering, you need to make certain that you have the good products and services in place to sustain it.
Adding a loyalty program to your eCommerce marketing plan provides you with another way to entice customers to return. Typically, these programs offer such rewards as points to accumulate for free products, discounts, or notification of special promotions. Some companies even give their customers extra points for mentioning their products on their social networks or for providing reviews. If you add a referral program to your loyalty program, you can even encourage your current customers to mention your business to their friends.
Provide flexible customer service options
Recently, a lot of businesses have made their return or cancellation policies more flexible to help their customers out during the current crisis. This adjustment can also give your business a way to make certain that you keep consumers delighted, and even when they’re not, you will have a way to learn about issues and try to correct them. Even though you may adjust your return or cancellation policies now to accommodate uncertain customers, you may decide that your flexibility will also help you retain them in the future.
You have probably noted that large eCommerce sites like Amazon usually offer a variety of shipping options. For instance, patient shoppers may even get free shipping if they choose a slower option. Customers with urgent needs can opt to spend more for expedited shipping. You might also consider adding promotions that offer more free shipping options for orders over a certain amount, or you can even make that a perk of your loyalty program.
Build a high-quality subscriber messaging list
In the old days, eCommerce marketing companies would have simply called this an email list. These days, you might also consider giving customers the option to choose text messages over emails. Even though most people already receive a lot of messages from businesses and probably don’t read most of them, that’s not true for some companies.
Plenty of businesses can boast that their customers look forward to receiving their communications because they work hard to offer value in exchange for attention. The more you can personalize these lists, the better chance you will have of having customers who perceive your communication as valuable too. For example, you might send special promotions for coffee grinders to customers who have already ordered or at least browsed your unground coffee bean selection. You could direct the offers for tea infusers to customers who have purchased your leaf tea.
Since a subscriber list can prove such a valuable way to retain customers, you may consider offering some perks to entice people to join. For example, you could offer a one-time coupon that entitles your new subscriber to a discounted purchase or upgraded shipping.
Why develop better plans for eCommerce marketing?
Steps you take today to improve your eCommerce website management and marketing can help you enjoy your share of the current eCommerce boom. Once this crisis has passed, your improvements should also help you retain and attract more online shoppers in the future.