Rethinking Affordability and Reconsidering Your Strategy During COVID-19

Ecommerce Best Practices | 6 mins

Now is a great time to refocus on the essentials of your business. Every company has its share of upkeep and groundwork to keep up with, and this is the time to get on top of it and build the basis of an even stronger business in the future. With that in mind, we’ve selected our best tips and strategies to upgrade your business and optimize your approach to customer engagement, employee support, and affordability.

Build Stronger Relationships:

Despite current uncertainty, there is still a lot of opportunity for ecommerce brands. For now, online sales have been increasing. Preliminary data from a recent study found that ecommerce retailers saw a 52% increase in revenue weekly growth rate and an 8.8% increase in conversion rates versus January and February last year. Since March 16th, omnichannel businesses, ecommerce only business, and subscription businesses have seen some recovery in their conversion rates and revenue after dipping the week prior. There is a huge opportunity and incentive to strengthen your bond with your customers at this time.

Keep in touch: Customers are getting a lot of messages right now, so a simple email announcement may not be enough to get their attention. Highlight your employees, local businesses, or stories from your own experience that are relevant and immediate across email and social media to open up a dialogue. Then, have a plan for continuing the conversation—whether it’s highlighting your customers themselves, distributing useful information, or just sharing photos of company pets, now is your time to be a consistent and reassuring presence.

Give back: The fact of the matter is, depending on your industry, some customers won’t be buying as often right now. That’s not ideal, but there are other things you can do to strengthen your relationships. You can raise money for a good cause by promoting it over your marketing channels, or show your support by donating your products to those in need. For example, our partner Chili is donating free sleep temperature-regulating chiliPADs to front-line responders for every dual-zone purchase made. Now both their shoppers and those risking their lives are able to sleep a little better. There is no shortage of great creative possibilities for keeping your business active while helping others.

Find new channels: To remain close and connected to your audience, it may be worth pioneering some new technical solutions, or using your existing stack in creative ways. You can start a Slack, Discord, or Facebook Group to build a place where you can talk directly to customers and where they can talk amongst themselves. It’s a place where you can ask your most engaged users to provide you direct product feedback, or build up a self-sustaining culture around your brand. When business picks back up, these could even become major sources of customer feedback, product testing, and revenue-driving channels.

Build greater loyalty: What got you into this business in the first place? At a time when so much is uncertain, it can be beneficial to refocus on the core values and mission of your brand. What are your key differentiators? Why do your customers choose you in the first place? Now is the time to highlight your story in its clearest and most direct form, and reconnect with the shared passion that drives you and your customers. This post from Over the Fire Cooking is a great example of just that.

Rethink Affordability:

For both companies and consumers, price and cost are a primary concern. To combat a dip in demand, many brands have started offering steep discounts to keep customers engaged and buying, but this approach will not be sustainable in the long run. Sales volumes have to rise by approximately 19 percent just to offset the profit impact of a 5 percent discount—but such a spike in demand due to a price change alone is almost unheard of.

Review your options before you discount: Inventory management is crucial right now. Some brands are facing a surplus of supply and a dip in demand, while others are facing the opposite problem. If you are experiencing a surplus, you should exercise caution around discounts, especially if you are in the DTC space, where margins are already slim. As mentioned above, sales volumes have to rise by 19 percent just to offset the profit impact of just a 5 percent discount, so make sure that any price changes are sustainable for long-term business health.

Consider pay-over-time options: Giving customers more flexibility in how they pay can offer more utility than even a steep discount. If customers are on a tight budget, paying a little bit over several weeks or months could be more useful than paying the full price up front with the cost only slightly lowered. You can learn more about offering 0% financing here.

Promote financing if you do offer it: Now is the time to make your financing offers known to all customers who could benefit from them. Add a full-time financing page, include it in your social media advertising, and target the customers that are most likely to benefit from additional options. We’ve seen some partners increase AOV by 155%, drive 10X the checkouts, and experience a 20% increase in loan volume by doing just that.

Find Remote Ways to Run Your Business:

Keeping a safe distance is crucial at this time, and finding a business continuity plan that will protect employees and customers should be your chief priority. You can learn about Bread’s response here, but we have some more tips from our experience.

Lean into video: Get face-to-face with your customers, virtually. Store tours, live product demonstrations, and regular live streams can give customers the high-touch experience they’re missing.

Deliver on delivery: Free delivery is an easy solution to help get your products into consumers’ hands. If you do business locally, curbside pickup is another great option. Anything you can do to make it easy for your shoppers to access your products easily will be essential.

Take your events virtual: While attending in-person events may not be an option for a while, that doesn’t mean you should abandon event marketing and attendance completely. Virtual substitutes have some surprising upsides—there are no travel costs, tickets are less expensive, and they’re normally fully recorded, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting an especially inspiring session!

Don’t (Just) Play Defense:

It’s natural for brands to be cautious right now, but simply hunkering down and waiting for this all to blow over won’t be your most prudent option. Research shows that companies should take a mixed approach, balancing bold moves with smart countermeasures. Now is not the time to give up—it’s time to go all in on innovation.

No one can predict what’s going to happen next, but staying true to the fundamentals of your business and following best practices will go a long way towards putting you in a strong position for future growth.