Did you lose most or all of your business at the height of the COVID -19 lock downs when social distancing and public space closures was mandated?
You’re not alone. COVID -19 has forced many business owners to rethink their business models. And with so much still unknown, the shopping public is wary of buying anything.
People don’t know what’s open, how they can buy, what’s safe to buy and what brands they can rely on to deliver products and services on time.
The future of shopping is uncertain. But is there a way to counteract all this fear? Is there a way to serve your customers in a different manner – one that will give them confidence and trust?
Yes, there is a way to keep your business in business, even if you can’t physically open your doors.
The answer is an ecommerce website. And with the right online setup and COVID-19 precautions, you could become a brand that people trust, love, and promote.
So how exactly can you adapt your business to the online marketplace? We’re going to take a look at that in more detail.
Bolster Your Bottom Line with an Ecommerce Website
It’s not a question anymore of going online. It may be the only way to guarantee your business’ survival as the trend of online shopping accelerates during and likely long after COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, there was a boom in Google searches for things like “buy online” and “contactless delivery”. Searches for “curbside pickup” rose 70%!
Many small businesses have had to rush online or face losing all their customers. And a website is a great business tool to have, especially when consumers don’t know where to turn for information, guidance, and helpful products.
In fact, Google reported a giant surge in searches for “what’s open near me?”, as people frantically look for locations that are still operating.
That’s where businesses with websites have a distinct competitive edge.
Through a website, you can assure people that you’re still in business. You can announce any changes to your hours of operation or product availability. You can use it as a communication tool, to keep in touch with clients, offer valuable support or information. You can also connect with a wider audience, who may appreciate your products and services.
Even better, an ecommerce website can actually make you money. It can replace some of your lost in-store revenue. And even when we all get back to a new norm after COVID-19, whatever that will be, it can supplement your in-store revenue. If you have ecommerce capability, a little creativity, and the right setup to support online sales.
How To Adapt Your Offerings to the Online World
Of course, some of your services may be difficult to offer online; but, there are many ways business owners can get creative by offering virtual online activities that complement or supplement your offline ones.
One way to get started is to ask yourself:
- What part of your service could you offer online?
- Do you have related skills, products or services that could be used to create an online offer?
- Would your audience be interested in learning from you through web seminars, tutorials, and online courses?
- Could you offer products that complement your services or add additional value, such as a spa owner selling skincare products, or a language tutor offering online conversational sessions?
If the offer is well-timed, helpful, and useful, and your website does a good job of selling your expertise, then you might just tap into a whole new customer base you never knew you had.
Should You Add an Ecommerce Platform?
If you’re a retailer or you sell physical products, it’s a no-brainer. You need an ecommerce website.
It’s the only way to guarantee continued business in case you have to close your doors once again.
Even if you sell services, a second revenue stream is never a bad idea. A website with online shopping could be a lucrative backup or “side gig”.
And think of the flexibility you’ll have if you can simply switch your business to online sales, just like that!
A website that has a functional shopping cart feature, product/service descriptions and pricing, along with easy delivery or pick up options, will fare much better than one that only offers limited information and a contact phone number.
The right ecommerce platform can do many versatile things that make it easy for you to sell your services and products online.
For example, take the ecommerce platform Ecwid. *Ecwid is the most affordable, flexible, and feature rich shopping cart for small business!
We love it because it’s particularly well-adapted to serve customers in the COVID-19 era. Some of its features can be quite useful to merchants, such as:
- Helping you keep track of inventory and avoid over-selling by syncing to your Square POS systems, along with your inventory and product catalogs.
- Allowing you to accept payments anywhere, online, or offline, using the same system.
- Giving you the opportunity to track your physical and digital sales through one integrated system.
- Easy integration with almost any existing website, along with your social sites like Facebook and places like Amazon, Marketplace and eBay.
- Adding a “curbside pickup” or “carry-out” option for online customers who don’t want mail or door-to-door delivery, so you can keep to social distancing rules. Through Ecwid, you can easily set up various pick up times and days.
And the curbside option is easy to fulfill.
You get an email notification when a customer chooses the curbside option at checkout. They will get an automatic email to confirm their selected pick up date, time, and location option. You have control over pre-setting curbside options that work best for your operation and staffing. You are able to request a mandatory contact phone number for when your customers arrive, so they never have to leave their car!
Beyond a seamless shopping experience, you also have to assure online clients that you’re doing everything to adhere to health and safety rules, especially during and after this pandemic.
There are some ways to make the online shopping experience safe and reassuring, so they have no reason NOT to do business with you…
Tips For Making Ecommerce Easy During COVID-19
Businesses that make it easy to buy online through their websites will be adaptable enough to weather any storm. But you also have to constantly assure your customers that you’re safe to do business with.
Here are some tips on how to do that…
- Address people’s top concern: Safety. Recent studies show that the coronavirus could last on surfaces or on packaging for several days. Make sure you clean and disinfect all high-use surfaces and any objects that are frequently used.
- Let your customers know that you’re taking all the necessary precautions. Remember to put highly visible messages about changes to your store policy during COVID-19. Don’t assume they know. A simple comment on your website or shopping pages will go a long way to establish trust.
- Try to avoid direct package hand-off. Instead, offer curbside pick up where you place orders directly inside the customer’s trunk, or in the case of home delivery, leave packages at the doorstep.
- Let them know what methods of payment you’ll accept if you allow pay-on-delivery. Assure customers that you are only accepting tap debit payments or credit cards, and if you no longer accept cash payments, make sure you announce that clearly on your website. Of course, any purchases made via your online shopping cart can be made from the safety of their home computer, tablet or smart phone. Then your delivery folks don’t have to deal with pay-on-delivery and its safer for everyone.
- Inform your customers of any potential delays in delivery or order fulfillment. If you’re having problems fulfilling orders, don’t shut down your website. You can always pause checkout options, allowing people to browse, add to their cart and then purchase later. If any shipping delays are expected, let them know on your website, so customers know what to expect.
Imagine your E-commerce Website: beautiful, functional and effective
Unlock Access to Our Guide:
Essential Guide to E-commerce
This guide walks you through all of the elements you need to consider when choosing an “out of the box” e-commerce solution so you can strike a perfect balance between design, function, customer experience and user experience.
What Website Option Should You Choose?
Now that you know what steps to take to reassure customers, all you need to start selling online is that amazing ecommerce website.
If you have a bit of technical know-how, you can save some money and try a do-it-yourself (DIY) website with e-commerce. To make that easy, we can provide design and consulting services, where we connect you with one of our web design experts who can provide design services and guidance for your website build and then implement the e-commerce integration.
Want to give *Ecwid E-commerce a try? Our team can set up these functions quickly on your behalf. We can integrate a shopping cart function into your existing WordPress website or a website on WIX or Squarespace.
Not sure which ecommerce option is right for you? You can start with a virtual consultation with one of our online branding experts, who can help direct you to the best E-commerce option.
We’re here to support small business any way we can. If you have marketing or branding questions, contact us, so we can learn more about your concerns.
*This is an affiliate link to a fully supported, quality, ecommerce software solution that we believe meets our high standards.