Almost a month earlier the WHO (World Health Organization) declared a global coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak in India has since then leaned into over 107,000 active COVID-19 cases with less fatalities. The only way to contain it was to stay indoors and accordingly, over 162 countries went into lockdown. So, people stopped going out or have changed their usual lifestyle.
This created a domino effect – first businesses lost their consumer footfall and sales count as a result of fewer buyers. Then many of them either reduced operations or stopped business altogether. Financial markets around the world are now operating with a thought of a possible collapse. Connect this with the slow economic growth seen from last year and you have market conditions that aren’t that good.
People are slowly adapting to extensive indoor living, even taking up working from home. We are avoiding stepping outside and it is changing how we buy goods – possibly even creating new, lasting habits.
Today, the lockdown restrictions that people have to follow are pushing them to shop in new ways. They are beginning to see online shopping as a safer way to get groceries, health, or essential items – in some cases, it might be the only way.
Sure, how people shop does undergo changes with each new trend, brand, product, etc. The difference this time is that we have been forced to alter how we buy things – and on a much wider level than before. For example, people can't carry out normal routines under lockdown and local stores have been closed up for health reasons.
Concerns about the availability of goods resulted in panic buying about a month back – we have consistently increased the number of things we buy. In many ways, companies and consumers alike are expecting a long-term recession and are adjusting buying with it. Even the way we search for products has transformed.
Indian consumers are left with two options – wait outside their local kirana stores to buy daily essentials, medicine, and foods or place online orders and wait patiently.
Some businesses are remaining active, they are facing questions on how to adapt to this new consumer, deal with trading conditions. The world is changing quickly online as it is offline. And inside the world of e-commerce, other online fields are planning for a similar future. Many e-commerce companies are taking this time to grow, by increasing how much they spend on online and social media advertising.
Online companies are going to be the unlikely winners – they will be catering to a large number of buyers who have nowhere else left to go. What are the possible steps they could take now to build revenues? It appears that some business strategy cornerstones still holds true.
Earning the buyer's loyalty is one such cornerstone – This is only achieved when buyers trust a brand and are enticed to buy from it. In the current situation, online brands have to exceed expectations when earning trust.
• Make it easier for stressed-out consumers to move from offline to online. This can be done by introducing more payment options or improve payment portals already present. The same principle can be applied to other parts of a site like streamlining categories so that buyers find what they need. This is useful when buyers are purchasing certain items – like groceries – online for the first time.
• Demand has surged and buyers might not get the product they require. Goods that are in such high demand, should have accurate stock information visible. One big alteration that popular online grocers are doing is listing out the number of units available for a certain item.
• Of course, the biggest issue now is ensuring that consumer gets the goods they’ve ordered for. E-commerce companies can communicate realistic delivery estimates or dates. It also includes updating the ads, notifications to reflect the same.
• Offering more loyalty benefits that make buyers comfortable. They aren’t going to be price sensitive but can still make use of promotions, discounts, etc. And there can be several options for them to choose from – subscriptions, special promos, free shipping, easier returns, loyalty points. The result is a loyal buyer and possible repeat business.
• Extra focus on customer care by addressing all concerns, issues, queries, and create a positive image this way.
These are just a few ways in which e-commerce brands are adapting to the pandemic. It’s a short term move and revenues are slow but bearable. The real race will start once the lockdown is over when they will need to recover from the losses incurred as a result of COVID-19 impacts.
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