How to Start Selling Online More Effectively
To call these “tough times” may be a bit of an understatement to you, or perhaps you’ve pivoted your marketing strategy nicely and aren’t negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
There’s no arguing this pandemic has led to increased internet traffic as people work, socialize, and entertain themselves online.
Distributel, a company that buys wholesale access to Rogers Communications Inc.’s internet backbone, has seen a traffic increase of about 50%, according to this article.
But an increase in internet usage doesn’t necessarily translate into increased sales for your small business.
Many consumers are hesitant to buy, either because they aren’t sure when they’ll be able to use the service you sell, or because they’ve been laid off or have had their hours reduced.
That’s why I’m sharing 3 eCommerce challenges and solutions to help you maintain and even grow as an entrepreneur during this crisis.
The Challenge: Making Your (eCommerce) Business Essential
Many entrepreneurs are panicking because they don’t have a traditional eCommerce business model, or an eCommerce website.
And, many worry they don’t have an “essential” enough product or service to offer online, like grocery stores do. (According to Apptopia, downloads of Instacart, the Walmart Grocery app and Shipt have increased 218%, 160%, and 124% compared with a year ago.)
Okay, so chances are you don’t sell groceries. But you can still be essential to your customers.
Are there certain products or services you can focus on that will better serve your target audience? For example:
- If you have a clothing store: fabric face masks, casual outfits for working from home
- If you offer financial, life, or other counseling services: 30- or 60-minute mental health sessions; many people are feeling lonely and isolated because of COVID-19
- If you sell entertainment-related items: create short videos highlighting games, crafts, or puzzles that will be fun for bored kids or adults
While it’s not possible for every small business to pivot this way, the reality is that if you don’t adjust to this “new normal” as much as possible, your small business will suffer.
Changing your marketing strategy can be tough, but it’s amazing how a bit of creative thinking can transform your situation and increase your web presence.
The Challenge: More Customer Questions & Complaints
While having a phone number on your website and in your Google My Business results may have been enough pre-pandemic, your customers need your support now more than ever.
More people online means an increased number of questions, comments and complaints could be coming your way.
I’m sure you’ve been incredibly frustrated at one point after being put on hold for ages, or not getting an email back when you inquired about something. Don’t let your customers have a similar experience on your website.
If you don’t have the capacity to manage customer service, consider implementing a chatbot to increase your web presence. A chatbot allows business owners to provide responses and solutions—and even generate leads and sales—24/7 through automated customer service live chat.
Check out this quirky “insomnobot” from the mattress company Casper.
According to IBM, up to 80% of routine customer service questions could be answered by a chatbot. While not every query can be tackled by a chatbot, it could take on the easier, yet still time-consuming, questions your customers might have. Learn more about chatbots here.
The Challenge: Website Tech Issues
Let’s say you already have an eCommerce site for your small business. If you have a broken link, 404 page or slow loading times, your visitors will go elsewhere. (This is true all the time, not just during COVID-19).
Even a clever 404 page can’t save you from losing visitors (and potentially sales).
Also, you’re not going to build trust among your audience with a poor user experience. Nobody is going to enter their contact or credit card info if they don’t trust your website.
Not to mention, an unkempt website is a target for hackers.
Remember: You’re not only responsible for protecting your own data, but also for your visitors’. Security requirements are always changing, and no small or large business is safe.
That’s why it’s essential to monitor for glitches, update your software and back up your site regularly for an optimal user experience.
Now, what if you have to start selling online in response to COVID-19? While there are sites out there that let you start an eCommerce website yourself, remember that your website is your number one marketing tool.
From calls to action to the font type and images on your pages, how you present your small business to the world makes a big difference to how you’re perceived.
Also, you’re not going to have the same customization options if you go the DIY route.
A professional web development company will understand not only the technical aspects of the build, but also the best ways to get your message across to your target audience.
Just like that we woke up in a different world! The coronavirus epidemic has completely changed our lives and transformed the way we do business.
For many, this can be an incredibly frightening time to be a business owner. You worry about the health of your employees and the business, the bills that keep coming, your income and family obligations.
But rather than let worries overwhelm them, smart small business owners can use this opportunity to plan and prepare for future growth and success. We’ve created a COVID-19 checklist to help you make the most of this uncertain time.
Whether you have to start an eCommerce website from scratch or adjust your existing marketing strategy to increase your web presence, now is not the time to sit back and wait for the pandemic to blow over.
Right now, your target audience is “living” online, so you’re going to have to tackle eCommerce business challenges as quickly and smoothly as possible. Be proactive, pivot your marketing strategy, and learn from this journey!
To your business success,
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