The breaking of the COVID-19 pandemic was so sudden that many companies had little time to find a solution that would still see their goods getting into the hands of their customers. This is especially true for brick-and-mortar locations that did the bulk of their transactions in person rather than online, and were forced to close for an undetermined amount of time.
Even upon reopening, retail locations are now bound by new public health guidelines that limit the amount of people allowed in their stores, mandate the wearing of face coverings, and encourage strict infection control procedures, including costly renovations, that protect customers and staff from getting sick.
The situation has prompted business owners to rethink how they interact with their customers, including adopting an e-commerce model that keeps them competitive, while maintaining caution during a heightened period of public health concerns.
Fortunately, after years of Amazon and other online retailers reshaping our purchasing habits, there’s little need to transition most consumers into shopping online. In fact, customers were fast to respond by purchasing more goods online – Emarsys and GoodData reports that for the week ending April 10, e-commerce in the United States grew by 42 percent year over year.
In other words, the transition to e-commerce for customers was relatively easy when the pandemic started. Companies with existing e-commerce functionality on their websites could handle the unforeseen heavy increase in online transactions, as long as their manufacturing, technology, and supply chain systems could carry the additional load, especially in the event of panic buying. However, despite these concerns, these companies will still have an easier time riding out the current wave.
Not so much with smaller businesses that don’t have a significant e-commerce presence. They’ve had to quickly pivot their operations to stay competitive, while adjusting to new e-commerce technologies that can prove challenging without an in-house strategist to help formulate a clear direction.
Forward-thinking businesses understand that optimizing their online presence with an e-store can help them survive through tough times, and contribute to the long-term health of their companies – as long as the right solution, technology, and infrastructure are in place.
Here are some of the other benefits associated with operating an e-commerce website:
- Attractive ROI For E-Commerce Stores: The upfront investment and long-term overhead of e-commerce are relatively low, especially when compared to operating physical locations. When combined with the value of the technology’s ability to fully automate processes and integrate your sales and inventory management between your digital and physical operations, the ROI of launching an e-commerce website is very attractive.
- Leverage Customer Date From E-Commerce: When someone walks into your store, you don’t really get the opportunity to learn anything about them, such as their location, what their buying patterns are, what motivates them to buy, and so on. With an e-commerce store, you can leverage robust analytics that offer all sorts of valuable data that the customers voluntarily provide. You can also see which of your products are most popular, how people are finding your website, at which point they leave, and other important analytics you can use to improve sales on your website.
- Make Shopping Easier: With an e-commerce website, you can provide your customers with 24/7 shopping, personalized service with chat boxes, and showcase your entire line of products with just a few clicks. By using augmented reality technology, your customers can actually “try on” fashion items using their mobile device. You can also completely personalize the customer experience with account functionality that recalls your customer’s buying and browsing history, colour preferences, favourite brands, and more. The better customer experience you provide, the better the chances of bigger sales, repeat customers, and social sharing.
- Reach More Customers: With digital marketing, your e-commerce offers can potentially put your message before millions of people and have them visiting your store with one click. Let your followers know about special online or in-store events, driving people to both your website and physical location.
Currently, it’s vital for businesses to develop an e-commerce platform to continue moving product while “normal” operations remain interrupted. However, there’s much more involved to launching an online store than calling your developer, who may have the technical skills you need, but not the branding, marketing, and design experience required to make your e-commerce solution a success.
A clearly defined strategy from an outside provider may be required, along with a comprehensive implementation and maintenance plan to ensure that everything runs smoothly regardless of most external circumstances.
Also, now that we have lived – and in many ways are still living – through the current crisis, an e-commerce solution helps businesses prepare for future events that result in similar outcomes, and protect the supply chain between them and their manufacturers, suppliers, and customers.
If you’re interested in learning how Cedric Millar can significantly transform your current supply chain into a more sustainable, flexible model, we’d love to chat with you. Just contact us at 1-888-998-1009 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime for a no-obligation discussion.