The global pandemic crisis caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) has given rise to a harsh and difficult business climate. As international borders close, people being isolated at home, the challenges faced by all companies who are facing temporary or permanent closures, unpaid staff, disruptions in supply chains, customer behavior changes, local shops forced to shut, uncertainty looming high, prospects of a severe recession has led to an impact on consumer outlook, perceptions, and behaviors.Since the coronavirus pandemic began, online footfalls have increased by 52%, and the number of online shoppers by 8.8%. Even the e-commerce giant Amazon plans to recruit additional employees and increase workers’ pay in the U.S., U.K., and Europe, to respond to surging online orders. In early March 2020, The Drum reported on research that shows that while annual advertising growth rates in China are predicted to fall from 7% growth in 2020 to 3.9%, e-commerce advertising spend is predicted to grow by 17.7% and social media spending to rise by 22.2%. Food retailers need to follow a new trend, which is produced traceability, which enables them to track the produce from its point of origin forward and backward through the supply chain and which could be one of the killer apps for blockchain. Ramesh Gopinath vice president of IBM Food Trust, who uses this system, says that this gives the customers an insight into where their food is coming from.
B2B E-Commerce and COVID-19: What can you do?
In theory, online stores of all sizes tend to benefit from the switch in consumer preferences from offline buying to online purchases they need to deliver them the best experience from the web stores via some good search engines so that they remain buyers for a long time. Helping the new customers to navigate through their products to offering them additional services like streaming free movies, banks waiving off fees/charges, discounts, offering return options/extending invoice payment dates, free home delivery, making stock levels visible and communicating any other helpful measures that the sites are putting into place to get through this crisis.
As more and more customers turn to the e-commerce platform, it should provide them accurate, reliable real-time information about inventory levels, delivery tracking of orders, quick check out, access to order history and account data in the web store, and helping them to make the right choices. It’s very likely to experience shifts and fluctuations in demand for products, and with the economy suffering financially, people will curb their spending too, so be sure to make returns if any hassle-free making it convenient for them track the progress without allowing for unnecessary emails and calls.
This is the best time to roll out further web stores to new regions and markets where you have a physical presence but not an online one so that your existing customers continue to shop with you while rolling in newer audiences as 50% of B2B customers conduct web searches to either lookout for information about new suppliers. There is also an option to open up a D2C or B2C e-commerce sites to help you to bypass any disruptions following the coronavirus lockdowns. This outbreak has to lead to a huge demand for essential products while disrupting your supply chains with transportation restrictions and establishment closures. A right web store host is required to support a large, stable infrastructure, take the pressure off by spreading it over a group of machines and delaying the loading of certain web page elements.
While these sites help you to protect your customers from face-to-face interactions, you still need to run a physical logistics center to physically deliver the goods ordered and on time while adhering to new safety hygienic measures like wearing masks, safety gloves, receipts no longer getting signed and informing the buyers about the measures taken by the company in the delivery of their products ordered.
As there is a huge demand for e-commerce sites, it is still possible to roll out a cloud web store (including integration to your ERP) in a matter of days or weeks, and the implementation timeline of the course depends on the cleanliness of your ERP data. Launching an e-store is important not only to meet the changing buying patterns of existing and prospective clients now but also once the outbreak and lockdowns are over. The focus of campaigns also needs to change based on new search behaviors, for e.g most Fashion brands are prioritizing on loungewear as most of the population is confined indoors.
While strategies need to be adapted to the ever-changing new environment we find ourselves in; companies need to consider retaining investment in their analytics, digital marketing to remain competitive and meet the customers’ expectations. There are a wide plethora of opportunities that can be undertaken in these uncertain times: it just takes a positive mindset, attitude, and approach to the whole process.