There can be no doubt that virtually every business has suffered as a result of COVID-19 – some more than others.
There has been the suggestion that businesses with a strong online presence and powerful e-commerce facilities have been better able to weather the storm, due to the fact that there has been a rise in online sales – however, things are not always clear cut.
E-commerce businesses have also faced a number of challenges over the course of the pandemic – and the companies that are able to thrive are the ones that are able to take these challenges and turn them into opportunities.
Businesses are trying a range of different things in order to boost their sales from making small modifications to the site’s look, to adding products more relevant through the pandemic and beyond.
Here we take a look at some of the challenges and opportunities for e-commerce over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now is the time to invest
If now is the time that a greater number of people than ever are using e-commerce sites to purchases, it makes sense that now is the time to put the money into improving yours.
There are actually many different ways you can improve your website – the look, the functionality, the conversion rates – so it is important to identify where your site needs improvement.
As more businesses launch high-quality e-commerce sites it can be easy to be left behind if you are not putting in the proper investment to improve yours. If customers are getting used to slick, easy-to-navigate websites, and yours is still clunky, it will stand out in a bad way.
Failing to make improvement naturally result in customers turning competitors that they find easier to use.
Optimise the colours on your site
Yes, taking time to improve your website during COVID-19 is great but you always need to be open to making tweaks.
Swimming pool manufacturers Compass Pools recently redesigned their website but found that the colours used on specific buttons had a huge impact.
“We were delighted with the overall redesign, but the site wasn’t converting at the rate we expected,” says Simon Dickson, Director of the company “we found that testing different colours on our action buttons made a big difference”.
Compass Pools found that a brick-red ‘Online quote’ button converted at a higher rate than any other colour.
Of course, this will depend hugely on your colour scheme and the layout of your website.
So it is essential to A/B test a variety of different colours to find out which works best for you. Colours can have a huge impact not just on conversions but also the general perception of your site.
Too often businesses hope that problems will resolve themselves, which actually spending a little time trying other options.
Concerns around safety
Another challenge for e-commerce businesses is the idea that customers are put off buying online because they are worried about their packages inadvertently carrying the COVID-19 virus.
Of course, it is important for customers to feel safe when they buy, so businesses must do all they can to quell fears and prove themselves hygienic.
It is a good idea to have a section on your e-commerce site that details the new measures that your businesses is taking during the pandemic to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
It can be a great idea to put this in a prominent place on your site so that potential customers can easily access this information.
Expand your product options
COVID-19 has created many challenges for businesses of all sizes.
One aspect of this is that it has changed some of the priorities of customers. There might be no greater challenge than the idea that what you are selling is no longer relevant to your customer base.
But interestingly you can see this challenge as an opportunity; if your business can tap into the new needs and demands of the market there are possibilities.
“As soon as the pandemic hit, we recognised that we would need to expand our product line if we wanted to continue to thrive,” says Steven Joy, Director of Golf Swing Systems.
“We have added a range of products to the site as a matter of priority and a number of lines have been very successful. And that just comes from recognising the opportunity and acting fast”.
It is worth taking some time to consider which of your products are still relevant and what sorts of options are available that could appeal to customers in the current climate.
There has been a huge rise in the demand for health and safety products, as well as long-life and groceries.
Understand the differences between men and women
One of the interesting things about online shopping and the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is affecting men and women differently.
A recent study revealed that 24% of men, compared to 18% of women noted that they were shopping more online. This not only suggests that e-commerce stores could benefit from focusing more shopping towards men, but also speaks to the point above about the type of products likely to be popular.
It might be time for your business to take another look at its current target market, to understand the differences made by the pandemic.
This will allow you to alter your purchasing decisions and make a better profit on your stock.
As businesses try to make the most of the period after lockdown and the difficult early stages of the COVID-19, it is natural to look for the best ways to adjust your business.
Whether you are purely an e-commerce company and you want to maximise your potential success, or if your site is only a part of your operation and you would like to capitalise on extra web traffic, this period can provide opportunities to everyone.
But it is not enough simply to hope that extra web traffic will equal new opportunities. You need to change and adapt with the times to get the most benefit.