The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused many businesses to re-evaluate their strategies for the upcoming festive season. While a sizeable number of companies have struggled to adapt to the new dynamic, E-commerce trends reflect an optimistic story. According to CCInsights, an Emarsys initiative, U.S. e-retailers’ year-over-year (YoY) revenue has grown by 68% as of mid-April 2020, eclipsing an earlier peak of 49% attained in early January this year. This statistic in no way guarantees success in the future, hence it is essential for e-tailers to take innovative steps to keep their sales volumes steady in the fourth quarter of 2020.
5 Ways to Strengthen Your E-commerce Business for a Post Covid-19 World
If the current shift of online shopping trends associated with the coronavirus crisis remains consistent over time, businesses can expect this surge in sales to persist even after physical stores begin to operate in optimal capacity. While e-retailing continues to grow substantially in this period, not every company is equipped with adequate resources to accommodate this sudden rise in demand.
Here are a few measures businesses can take for the aftermath of COVID-19:
Technological Plan for Capacity Growth and Inventory Management
Investments in technologies that provide the bandwidth for online retailers to handle increased E-commerce traffic is an expensive affair and can prove challenging to implement.
The growing demand requires precise planning and management. Otherwise, companies can be stuck with underutilized infrastructure. At the same time, not having enough capacity can hamper the growth of the business online. This dilemma makes the infrastructural planning process a lot more complicated. A shift to cloud computing instead can hugely benefit firms to respond to their E-commerce trends more efficiently. Unlike on-premises infrastructure, cloud computing provides the flexibility to upscale and downscale as per the demand requirements.
Talking of investing in technologies, the integration of inventory management systems can also help sellers in many ways. It equips them to manage the sales and current stock levels in real-time to keep their customers informed over product availability. The tool also ensures transparency in the warehouse as the staff and higher-management alike have access to all the vital inventory information, which helps them monitor the daily operations and make informed decisions.
Effective Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is one of the biggest challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon the shoulders of online sellers. For all the focus on inventory management and investment in technologies, an E-commerce business must deliver reliable products on time to grow their sales. Any disruption to supply chains can cause shipment delays, especially if there is no flexible strategy to meet the surge in demand. Hence, companies must tap into relationships with their existing suppliers to create a business continuity plan. The companies should also identify suppliers in multiple regions to diversify their E-commerce supply chain and expedite shipments. This multi-carrier approach provides greater options and flexibility in cases of unforeseen charges.
Re-evaluate Forecast Volumes
Providing the logistics service provider with accurate sales volume forecasts can be an essential differential factor in planning future promotional campaigns and minimizing the backlogging of goods. It is a difficult task in the best of times, but COVID-19 has brought many uncertainties that require companies to re-evaluate their forecast volumes for the upcoming holiday season.
But how do businesses re-evaluate their sales forecasts? Well, one effective way is to use leading indicators from consumer behavior to identify current demand and re-analyze sales projections based on that data. As sales volumes drive manufacturing, e-tailers must understand the existing demand curve for their product. It helps the supplier to formulate an action plan in case of an unexpected rise in volumes.
Firm Focus on Digital Strategies
As the coronavirus situation continues to unfold, E-commerce sellers are under immense pressure to cut down their campaign budgets. While it may seem tempting to do so, this isn’t always the best choice a company can make. Moreover, this period has created an excellent opportunity for brands to expand their customer base and earn a substantial revenue. Hence, there was never a better time for online retailers to invest more in their E-commerce marketing efforts.
It involves a comprehensive approach to improve a company’s website and convert
visitors into customers. Right from navigation and design to content curation, everything
on the site should lead the users towards purchasing the product or service on offer.
Some of these effective strategies are:
- Keyword Research– It helps find words and phrases the target audience of an E-tailer is searching on the web
- Listing and Image Optimization– Optimizing the product title, description and backend terms improve the search ranking of a particular product listing
- PPC Advertising– Pay Per Click campaigns ensure that the most important business products get high visibility on search engines
The recent surge in online sales has highlighted the need for online sellers to hire more staff to enhance delivery operations and fulfill their orders timely and efficiently. One of the biggest takeaways from this pandemic scenario is that online merchants need to plan their human resources well in advance to deal with such uncertainties and sudden spike in sales volumes. At this moment in time, a well-staffed business can seize the opportunity to win over a new set of audience and earn their long-term loyalty. However, a company lacking in this department can hamper this once in a lifetime chance to grow its sales and customer base further.
A crisis can take any shape or form, but it is up to businesses to respond proactively and innovate their offerings. While there are big questions marks over what the rest of the year may bring, the reality is that the E-commerce industry is never going to be the same. The current surge in demand for products online could become the new normal, and it is highly likely that the months of November and December will be no different. Time has come for online sellers to start preparations for what could be the busiest festive season yet.