By Sam Whittaker, Marketing Manager of World Options
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has meant that businesses worldwide have faced new challenges, needed to adapt and pivot in order to survive, and this is something that is going to continue post-pandemic. Despite recent improvements in the proportion of businesses trading, government data revealed that many companies were trading below their usual capacity over the course of the pandemic, with 31% of businesses reporting turnover lower than normal. In the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, this figure is over 60%.
Due to the huge shift towards a digital shopping experience, e-commerce businesses have luckily had the chance to grow their offering despite the current climate. This move to online shopping has also meant that the industry is more competitive than ever before, with businesses looking to grow their e-commerce offering to meet the ever-expanding consumer demand.
Here are some top tips from global shipping experts World Options for how e-commerce businesses can not only navigate the impact of the pandemic, but also take advantage of the huge surge in customers spending an increasing amount of time and money shopping online, in order to facilitate growth.
Streamline all Processes
One of the key things to ensure when it comes to e-commerce success is that every single process is as streamlined as possible. This can not only help you to cut costs as a business, but it also saves time and stress for the entire team, while keeping you in full control of all of your orders and shipping.
Consider utilising technology where possible such as a shipping management system or tool that is easily integrated into your e-commerce platform so you can monitor everything in one, easy to use place. APIs make this a simple process for e-commerce stores to integrate with software of this type. You should also have clear roles and responsibilities across your team to maximise productivity and keep things organised at all times.
Adapt to New Consumer Behaviours
The shift in consumer behaviour is one of the biggest things e-commerce business owners need to stay on top of in order to adapt to meet their needs. 40.1% of consumers say they are highly likely to continue to shop online even if retail stores open back up, making it essential that you stand out from the crowd.
One of the best ways to guarantee this is to amplify your online presence, build your brand and enhance your customer interaction to build stronger relationships.
Brands with a strong online presence are memorable, and tying this into a great customer experience will result in the growth of both new and existing customers. You also need to adapt your services and products to meet the new needs of customers. Analyse their behaviour online;
- What is in demand that you can help them with?
- How can you improve their online shopping experience with your offering?
- What are people searching for the most online? Can you adapt your offering to match this?
Offer Competitive Shipping Options and Prices
In 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and this huge number of online shoppers has meant an increase in competition for e-commerce businesses. This also means that there is a higher expectation for online retailers to meet.
Consumers expect fast and reliable delivery services for free. Chances are, if you don’t offer this, somewhere else will and your customers will likely choose to shop there instead of on your online store. BigCommerce reported that offering free shipping can actually increase your average order value by 30%, making it incredibly worthwhile from both a business and consumer perspective.
You should offer competitive shipping prices and options providing flexibility for your customers as well as a great deal. World Options offer a unique comparison tool as part of their shipping integrations system which allows e-commerce businesses to connect their platform with the portal, and easily compare instant quotes for their shipping from world-leading courier companies. Investing in tools like this can not only save you money, but it also has a knock on effect and allows you to provide lower shipping costs for your customers.
Expand your Online Offering
As more people have moved towards a digital shopping experience, it’s important to expand your online offering to enhance your presence and make your products as widely available as possible. This gives you the chance to reach new audiences and customers. Make use of social media as it is one of the best ways to market your e-commerce business, and you can even do this on a very low budget. Branch out and make use of other online channels, including marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
To summarise, for your e-commerce businesses to thrive and succeed in a pandemic, as well as in a post-pandemic environment, you need to consider the following steps:
- Organise and streamline processes where possible
- Invest in a shipping system or online management tool
- Easily monitor and manage your orders in one easy-to-use place
- Keep in control of customer orders and shipping
- Focus on other areas of business growth
Adapt to new consumer behaviours
- Identify customer behaviours and how you can adapt to meet their needs
- Build on existing relationships and enhance interaction with potential new customers
- Ensure your website offers a strong user experience to make the shopping process as simple as possible
Offer competitive shipping options and prices
- The pandemic has caused fulfilment expectations to soar – customers are looking for the quickest, cheapest way to receive their goods making it more important than ever that you can provide this
- Compare delivery options so you can choose the best, most affordable service for your business but also offer your customers the most competitive rates
Expand your online offering
- As more people have moved towards a digital shopping experience, a wider offering should be available – make use of social media, and other online channels including marketplaces (eBay, Amazon etc.)
- Keep up with competitors – monitor what they’re doing and see how you can keep ahead of the curve