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How E-Commerce Works in a COVID-19 World

With the COVID-19 virus still afflicting many countries at alarming rates, many physical interactions and activities have been restricted. As a result, consumers have been spending an increased amount of time online.

This phenomenon is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, customers are more susceptible to making more online purchases. On the other hand, the extra time allows them to compare competing brands, making it harder to maintain their attention. To keep their businesses afloat, entrepreneurs will need to work harder to keep their consumers engaged. We’ve listed down a few tips to help you adapt your online business to a new normal.

Design a website for your business

Make a website for your business if you haven’t already. As great as social media platforms are, they are, first and foremost, a marketing tool. Understand that you will only be able to work within the confines of that social media platform’s interface. Designing a website gives a range of customizable tools for your business needs. It will also provide a home for your brand’s online presence. You will also be able to track data and analytics more efficiently with your own website.

Other feeds from social media platforms can also distract your audience. Remember that social media is primarily used to connect with others. Customers will likely be receiving notifications–and from various platforms too. That can pull their focus from your page. If, while viewing your brand’s Instagram profile, a customer receives another notification on said platform, they may get distracted and leave your page to check it. It would be even worse if it had been their first time encountering your brand and did not remember its name.

A big issue: cart abandonment

Cart abandonment is a phenomenon that exists long before the pandemic started, but the current crisis has caused it to surge. Cart abandonment is when customers add items to their cart but exit the website before completing their purchase.

person using the computer

How to gain (and keep) customers

Once you’ve established a website for your brand, make use of digital marketing tools to increase customer traffic and loyalty.

1. Make use of email marketing

Get their email addresses as much as possible, and as soon as possible. You can get more customers to register for an account by offering a discount on their first purchase.

Employ analytics tools to observe consumer browsing and purchase behaviors. You can then use this data to send personalized marketing emails based on their most viewed and purchased products. Customers might not respond to emails containing irrelevant products and services. They may leave them open but move them to the trash, or may even trash them without opening them. If they get into the habit of doing this, they might unsubscribe from emails, and their spam filters will learn to spam your emails automatically.

That brings us to the next tip: write good subject lines. Emails with targeted and personalized subject lines have open rates higher by 50%.

You can also send emails about abandoned carts, reminding your customers to complete their unfinished purchases. Sending three of these at a particular frequency can result in up to 69% more orders.

2. Pop-ups

Pop-ups are useful in letting your customers know about your products and promotions. There are two kinds of pop-ups you can use. The first is delayed pop-ups. These pop-up after a fixed amount of time has elapsed, while a customer is still browsing the site. Timing is essential here. Trigger the pop-up too soon, and you risk bombarding the consumer with too much information. Trigger it too late, and the customer may not even see it because they’ve already left.

A safe interval you can try is 15 seconds after opening — though you can change this as you gather more data about how much time customers spend on your site. Let the customer get to know your website and your brand before your pop-up launches to offer them more.

Exit-intent pop-ups are those that appear when a customer has made a move to leave your website. These usually contain messages asking the customer not to leave without at least signing up for a newsletter. Other examples include invites to create an account and get a discount for the first purchase or a link to a page full of discounted items.

3. Install a live chat feature

All business websites should have a contact form by default so that their customers can reach out regarding their concerns. These contact pages typically ask for their email addresses, if not their contact numbers as well.

But sometimes, email isn’t enough. With COVID-19 delaying shipments, customers will value a quick way to communicate and ask about their concerns. Installing a live chat feature will allow them to reach you quickly and will allow faster problem-solving on your end. This advantage can also increase customer loyalty.

The increased amount of time that consumers have been spending online may make them more susceptible to online shopping. Unfortunately, it also grants them the opportunity to seek your competitors for comparison — among other reasons for cart abandonment. Employing strategies and features such as email marketing, pop-ups, and live chat will give online business owners more opportunities to maintain customer attention and loyalty.

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