The current pandemic has dramatically changed the way businesses are functioning, struggling, and surviving. And while the e-commerce segment has been witnessing more demand than ever, owing to lockdowns and social distancing, they are not immune to certain challenges. However, COVID-19 also offers a few opportunities to e-commerce entities. Hence, running an online business during recession will require you to balance customer demand and supply smartly and watch your venture’s bottom-line as well. And all of that needs to be done in an empathetic manner.
So, what are the challenges?
- During this pandemic, many e-commerce businesses are not being able to deliver with their original efficiency or speed. The reason is that not enough employees are available for this operation. Some online businesses have had to restrict delivery of non-essential products and only focus on essentials.
- Stocking items that are not very common can become difficult during this crisis. Naturally, e-commerce stores might have to let go of some customers in the process, temporarily.
- Shipping products can also take time due to lockdowns and local restrictions. Similarly, it might take time for customers to return the products that they don’t want.
- Since now is the time when many first-timers will flock to online stores, enough customer support needs to be in place to help such shoppers navigate through your website.
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And here are the solutions and opportunities
As an e-commerce business, you need to remember that your customers are as anxious about the future as you. So, making your digital communications as clear and empathetic as possible is a good move. Your website must also state what you are doing to help the community and adhere to safety regulations. Some other solutions you can offer and opportunities you can make use of are:
- Contactless delivery should be explored during this crisis, to assure customers that you are doing everything to contain the spread of the virus.
- Offering essential products like everyday groceries, medical aids and hygiene items at discounted prices is also a good move. You can highlight such products on your webpage as well.
- Online businesses will need to re-look at their website, layout, navigation system, and checkout process to see if everything is simple and easy to understand, even by those who are new to online shopping.
- When it comes to examining the recession impact on e-commerce, you must note that many existing and potential customers might be out of jobs, struggling with loans or suffering salary cuts. So, extending payment dates for invoices might be a good idea during this phase. It can help boost their loyalty and establish long-term relationships.
- If your business is going through a bad patch, if your inventory is low, or if you expect shipping delays, make sure these are clearly mentioned on your website, e-store and social media pages.
Further solutions and opportunities
- COVID-19 is likely to enhance the prospects of businesses that deal in healthcare products, medicines, digital learning and entertainment products, and edibles and personal care items. Books, hobby kits and household cleaning products will also be in high demand for quite some time to come. Hence, promoting such items is a good idea. However, avoid hard-selling.
- Offering a smooth and safe payment experience is crucial for an online business, especially during this economic crisis, as people will be more careful about frauds and losing money.Your customers may be reluctant to reveal their card information online due to the fear of scams. However, you can help allay such fears by collaborating with reputed online payment service providers.A reliable and efficient e-commerce payment gateway can offer multiple payment options, support many currencies, ensure a quick checkout and keep sensitive information safe.
All in all, the ongoing pandemic has brought several future opportunities in e-businesses to the forefront. All you have to do is make the most of them by tweaking your business strategy, powering up your online presence, understanding the changing needs of customers, and being empathetic.