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The recent COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns that have been put in place around have affected practically every single business, in every single sector. eCommerce brands have been dramatically affected in ways that no one could have predicted. While it may not seem like a top priority given everything that is currently taking place in the world, effectively marketing during the crisis is paramount to ensuring your company survives the damaging effects caused by COVID-19.

With customer engagement during COVID-19 being more important than ever, understanding the impact the virus is having on your business and reacting accordingly can help you to survive in these trying times. As many eCommerce brands are discovering, maximising your conversions comes with added importance.

So let’s take a look at the ways you can help your business connect with your customers and achieve success despite the effects of COVID-19.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the eCommerce Industry

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While many physical, brick and mortar stores have been forced to close their doors, eCommerce order volume has increased by 50% compared to 2019. However, this recent surge, combined with already disrupted supply chains, has led to an increase in shipping delays and order issues. It all means that retailers are taking, on average, 1.5 days longer to fulfill orders. This means that while people may be placing more orders than ever before, the physical act of actually delivering them to customers, is a much more difficult ordeal than has previously been the case.

Pivoting towards a focus on social media platforms is also something we are seeing more and more eCommerce businesses doing. This is due to the fact that 45% of people are now devoting more time to social media since lockdown laws have been brought into effect. Shifting your ad spend to your social media platforms, especially Instagram, will help you businesses to improve their levels of engagement, and therefore increase conversions during these difficult times. Customer engagement during COVID-19 is now more crucial than ever, so if you’re not shifting huge amounts of your focus towards social media channels, you will start to fall behind to competitors.

How eCommerce Brands Can Improve Conversions During These Times

What many companies are currently asking themselves is, how can I improve my eCommerce conversion rate when COVID-19 is forced a lockdown? Well, there are several things you can do right now to help connect with your audience, and help increase conversions. These include:

Engage With Loyal Customers: The loyalty of your current customers currently carries a much greater weight than normal. Consider creating personalized offers or discounts for customers that have previously purchased from you, free shipping on orders or early access to future releases. Above all, maintain constant communication with them, through emails, newsletters and even your social media profiles. This is something Made have done extremely well and are worth taking inspiration from.

Promote Your Products Efficiently: By creating tailored landing pages and promotions which highlight products that are more likely to be valued during this period, you can convert traffic into purchases. As well as this, it will help to highlight your shipping processes, promote pre-orders and suggest alternative products for popular ones with low inventory.

Alter Your Branding and Messaging: Right now, you don’t want to be seen as either uncaring or opportunistic. Doing so will turn people away from your brand, and given the current climate, it is likely you will ever win them back. Offering statements of support is one thing, but offering physical acts of kindness while reinforcing social distancing will help you forge strong bonds with your engaged customers, something Deliveroo were one of the first companies to do.

Optimise Your Ad Spend: In this instance, following a data-driven approach and shifting ad budgets accordingly to the platforms that are performing better is key. Take social media as an example, screen time at home has sky-rocketed since the lockdown, so Facebook and Instagram usage has increased dramatically meaning these are platforms to focus your ads on.

eCommerce Brands Engaging Effectively Right Now

When it comes to a retail brand’s response to the outbreak, these are some of the ones that have managed to engage effectively with their audience:

ASOS: As a brand whose entire success is predicated on speedy delivery, fashion retailer ASOS has to change their approach slightly. Knowing that changes to delivery options might affect conversion, they have pledged to donate money to the Red Cross for every sale they receive. This not only helps with engagement, but reassures their audience that they are giving back to their community.

Dunkin’ Donuts: As they typically rely on customers coming into their stores to purchase food and coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts needed to adapt. To incentivize customers to get their donut fix, while still adhering to social distancing, they launched a new social distancing rewards program, where customers who order on-the-go receive an extra 100 points on their DD Perks program.

Peloton: With gyms around the world closing their doors, fitness companies have to change the way they operate. By shifting focus onto their online classes and app tracking feature, fitness brand Peloton have been able maintain their audience engagement at a time when they needed to most. Also, they have extended the trial period to 90 days in order to further breed loyalty from their customers.

Bon Appetit: While not an eCommerce brand, Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel is a great example of how to effectively adjust content to the current situation. They have shifted to focus on offering content that focuses on making food at home, with ingredients that their audience is likely to have, as well as focusing on building their community rather than just mindlessly pushing out more pieces of content.

Final Thoughts

While it may be an uncertain and difficult time for you and your business right now, there are still ways that companies can adapt to encourage customer engagement and promote increased conversion levels. By adapting to consumer behaviour caused by the COVID-19 outbreak as well as preparing for the presumptive rush once the world gets back to normal, there are ways you can handle this situation and come out from it stronger than you were before. Through switching your ad spend, engaging with your loyal customers effectively and changing the focus of your overall messaging, you will be able to get through these difficult times for us all.

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