7 ways to increase eCommerce sales during these tough times
You have probably already heard that eCommerce sales will go up significantly during the COVID-19 crisis. You might have also heard that the sales will go down significantly as logistics is taking a hit. These are more general statements made about the entirety of businesses out there. With this article, we will help add some clarity around this.
Here is a COVID-19 survey (source: CommerceNext) taken during Mar 16-17, 2020 among 90 digital retail executives.
Looking at the data, the numbers do seem to indicate both ways. About 44.2% of businesses have seen slightly or significantly higher traffic on their websites. 7% of websites have seen no impact and 48.9% of businesses have seen slightly or significantly lower traffic on their websites. With this article, we will bring to the table some changes that merchants can implement to increase their transactions during these tough times.
What can business do to increase transactions?
Here are some ways a business can increase their sales during these tough times
Infrastructure - Cloud over on-prem
It is times like these when we start appreciating the positives of being on the cloud. Magento Commerce Cloud boasts of a 99.9% uptime and a 24x7 availability. This offers truly reliable services that comes in handy during these tough times. The fact that one does not need a full-blown network team to be constantly monitoring the server and its resources poses lesser challenges for a business in such times. Being able to work with the server/code configurations from a remote location poses a whole new game plan for businesses. Thereby enabling them to make changes to the system & quickly cater to the changing needs.
Now this is truly an area where business can step up & show their competitive edge over others. Free shipping over $50/$100 has pretty much become the de facto in the eCommerce world right now. A temporary workaround to increasing transactions would be to allow free shipping on all orders on the website. Businesses like Sephora are providing free shipping on all orders in order to encourage social distancing. Of course, this means burning more revenue than usual for the short term. However, this goodwill will go a long way in terms of building an amazing trust & loyalty for years to come.
Right now, consumers that are working from home, on sick leave or trying to avoid contact with others are ordering more products to be delivered to their home. A shopper who purchased items on amazon on the March 5th, received a warning message that the increased demand was leading to longer delivery times. Another factor impacting Amazon right now is that many Amazon merchants rely on Chinese suppliers. This is a calling for all those small & mid-sized businesses to stand out and get noticed. In the US, there are shipping providers that have not yet reported interruptions in service:
- Shipping Easy
The above data is as of 03/23. We encourage you to check their website for further information regarding the same. Magento offers easy integrations with a vat number of shipping providers out there and it is only a matter of hours to get a new shipping provider in place.
Personalized feature implementations
Social distancing practiced right now is not restricted to coronavirus and may recur in the future, especially as a new flu season hits in the fall. Travel and family get-togethers may be cancelled, and this could lead to an increase in direct-to-recipient (send-to-recipient) shipments.
Given that this predicament could be a seasonal thing, businesses should plan to support feature implementations like gift messages, gift wrapping & split shipments for deliveries. Being on Magento Commerce automatically gives you these features out of the box and it merely requires configuration to get it working on the website. Magento Community (Open Source) users fret not, these features are still available as extensions on the Magento marketplace for you to use. SMS updates could also be a worthwhile feature implementation to consider.
Businesses selling essentials could leverage some transparent marketing activities and gain traction from the current deadlock.
Videos, articles, content pages, newsletters showcasing how logistics are streamlined for the current deadlock will help garner positive attention on social media. A simple example of this is what Nordstrom did. Businesses adopting this approach will see a growing trust from their customers. Customers will be more than happy to place orders on essentials if this content is promoted via their own website, social media handles and newsletters.
Regardless of whether you are on a pure eCommerce setup or a headless approach or an eCommerce + CMS coupled platform; eCommerce platforms have truly made it easy to manage content on the go. Magento’s Content Staging provides you with the ability to create, preview and schedule a variety of content updates right from the Admin of your store. It has never been this easier to schedule content changes to websites.
Payment can be a game changer during times like these. Some amazing options for businesses to explore right now are -
Alternate payment methods like Bill Me Later & Afterpay - These payment methods allow customers to purchase products and pay at a later point in future. While PayPal’s Bill Me Later claims “No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on purchases of $99 or more”, AfterPay promotes “Buy what you want today, pay for it in 4 instalments, interest-free”. This payment method works more like a credit card and shoppers are required to make minimum monthly payments thereby providing a flexible payment method and is sure to be a hit during economic collapse.
The above option might not be for everyone, especially for smaller/ new businesses. In which case, businesses can resort to the option Place an order now & get 10% off. Allowing customers to purchase in multiples (qty>5) and automatically enabling a cart-based discount of 10% are expected to be well received in these times. This would be a good idea for FMCGs like processed food, beverages, toiletries where shoppers are bound to purchase in bulk.
These payment options are very simple to setup that any non-technical person with a decent understanding of Magento ecosystem will be able to configure them in the Admin section within minutes.
User Experience goes a long way in getting things done easily. It is highly touted as the key ingredient in improving a site’s traffic and we completely agree with this.
A key offering in this arena would be to reduce the number of steps in Customer journey from landing on the website to placing an order. Optimizing this to a lower number of screams ‘great user UX’ to the users and will automatically get repeat customers coming back into the system. Caught up with multiple scenarios for optimum customer journey and not sure which one is going to work? A very simple way to figure that out would be to use A/B testing. Again, Magento 2 Commerce provides the ability to run multi-variate tests, potentially up to even 10 versions of a webpage in order to find the best performing version.
Redesigning homepages and cutting down on the number/quality of media assets used will be a great way to go. This means faster page load speeds for websites. In other words, getting your information across to the user faster than your competition. While toning down the 4K res images, descriptive text will be a good replacement for product information. This is synonymous to how Netflix is lowering its streaming capacity for Europe in the wake of lockdown. Categorizing homepage on what’s most needed right now would be another highlight that will improve traffic and thereby sales. Party City is a great example of how to redo your homepage with an intent to offer solutions to parents that are under lockdown with their kids.
Most businesses work with vendors for their platform development & maintenance needs, while they handle the configuration, content & marketing side of things in-house. This will continue to be the trend for years to come. While the development & partial operations happen via a vendor, it is always important to ensure that the vendors – local or offshore can expand their horizons into working from home. Technology partners that can build a Business Continuity Plan and put it in action will be able to add a great deal of value to their merchants. This means when everybody is laying low, there is still a chance for businesses to get work done offshore and be ready for a new release when the situation is back to normal.
One thing we can all agree upon is that we can never be prepared enough for these times. Every new virus or seasonal flu or riot lockdown will only allow us to sit back, retrospect and learn a new lesson. This leads us to believe that the risk is real, but manageable. We are positive that the above tips will allow businesses to experiment based on their current scenario and improve things for the shorter and longer run.
Amid COVID-19, we at Ameex are currently running a FREE consultation of eCommerce websites to help small & medium businesses. This includes a health check on your current website and a detailed report on the proposed next steps to improve the overall shopping experience for your customers. The health check includes services like –
- Infrastructure review
- Status on security patches / version upgrade
- SSL certificate check/HTTPS connection
- Potential areas of improvement for UI/UX
- Code review of select modules
- 3rd party extensions/apps review
- Analytics review – Google Analytics / Business Intelligence
All this with a turnaround time of 3-4 days. If you would like to get a report on your website, please fill out the form here and we will get in touch with you at the earliest.