Online merchants are very much economically affected by the current situation. The inability to deliver, the closure of physical sales outlets or a change in consumer habits may cause major economic difficulties that will last until at least the end of the lockdown period.
There are, however, short-term solutions to promote economic continuity within these companies.
If you haven't already, turn to online retailing
Physical shops deemed "non-essential" by the French government had to close their doors just over a month ago. For those companies that do not have an online sales site, it is a total cessation of activity. The transition to selling online can therefore become a real growth driver. Setting up a quality online retail site does not happen overnight, and there are a number of initiatives in place to help businesses that need to take this step.
Promote gift cards
"Buy today, get tomorrow." No more last minute delivery solutions, it's time to promote the gift card. Long reserved for uninspired birthday presents, gift cards are now on the rise. The reason is simple: it provides the retailer with instant payment, allowing customers to recover their equivalent purchases when the lockdown is over. A simple and quick solution that creates constant liquidity, provided that you communicate well on the subject.
Communicate with your most loyal customers.
In order to reduce the impact of the health crisis on your business, it is important to review its communication priorities. We have already talked in a previous post the importance of informing your customers about all the constraints your business is facing in these difficult times. To ensure the continuity of the latter, you should redouble your efforts to communicate to your loyal customers, not only by informing them of your situation, but also by communicating new purchasing solutions, such as gift cards, or why not offer a a pre-order system.
Pre-ordering has many advantages
Like the gift card, pre-ordering allows you to create a rapid revenue stream, through the communication and sale of a product, some time before its delivery. For companies looking not to over/under-produce during this period, but also those who are not able to deliver before the end of the lockdown, pre-ordering can generate a real profit in terms of time and cash flow, and will help you optimise your stocks (only pre-ordered quantities will therefore be produced and delivered).
Apply discounts to boost your conversion.
For many retailers, a good inventory turnover and better conversion are essential for recovering their business. So, start by analysing your stocks by making an inventory and identify the products with the slowest turnover. This way, you will know which products to discount. Whether we are talking about discounts, flash sales or private sales, these methods remain effective in the process of increasing the conversion of your e-commerce site. Beware of the usual seasonality analyses: these could be affected by the lockdown.
Opt for reduced or free shipping costs
For any online retail site, the delivery costs have an impact on your profit margins. In order to favour a better conversion, you may want to make use of discounts on delivery costs. Usually, delivery costs influence consumers' purchasing choices right from the outset, if they have a choice between several sellers. This commercial gesture may be a saving grace for your business.
Review exchange and return deadlines
Flexibility is a sought-after quality in retail sites, and is at the heart of customers' concerns. It is crucial to dispel any doubts they may have about the possibility of exchanging or returning an unsatisfactory product. In view of the current situation, it is therefore important to keep customers up to date with information about longer exchange and return times, and to allow for a certain margin. Today, many online retailers offer a 3 month delay, instead of 15 days or 1 month.
Reduce expenses, at least until you can see more clearly
For companies in difficulty, an update of their accounting records is essential. One of the most important expenses for online shops is marketing expenses, as well as the payment of suppliers. For the first, it is important to think about the marketing tools that should be prioritized during this period, and to think about marketing efficiency. For the latter, many suppliers will have a better understanding if you request a deferral of payment of certain invoices. Reviewing your procurement plan while the situation becomes clearer also becomes a necessity.
Supporting caregivers: a virtuous approach
Healthcare workers around the world are now on the front line of a tough battle. In a large number of countries, there are associations, foundations or aid funds to help finance exceptional operations (manufacture and donation of masks, overalls and other equipment needed by caregivers). If your business revenues allow, consider donating a percentage of your sales (on total sales, on a specific product or series of products). By effectively sharing this information, your customers will be able to appreciate the virtuous nature of their purchase.
Government aid for businesses
Governments know that the COVID-19 crisis is already having a significant impact on economic activity. That is why certain exceptional aid measures by various governments are being proposed to companies. If your business has been affected by the current health situation, do not hesitate to ask the competent authorities about the measures and procedures to follow
Today, no one is able to predict the impact that this crisis will have on the trade sector. Through these few solutions, real business opportunities can emerge from this exceptional period. By enforcing them, while keeping in mind the importance of rules and barriers, you will develop a better shopping experience for your customers, who will thank you for it in the future.
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