COVID-19 has become defining movement of this decade not only for the Doctors or scientists also for the business. All the existing business models have flipped upside down. Demand for certain products are seeing steep decline and some products are having once in a lifetime incline in demand for their products.
We are in a situation where small business stores are struggling to figure out how to stay alive. And bigger ones are trying to reduce the overhead costs by laying off the employees.
Some people also say COVID-19 is a great equalizer for all the brands across industry. The one industry which is benefiting due to this covid-19 is Ecommerce.
Ecommerce was gaining steady increase over the past decade, the impact of social distancing and quarantine has provided huge boost to this industry. Online sales have been growing at triple digits since social distancing came into effect. More and more consumers are trying to buy from online platforms (like amazon, instashop etc.). everything from groceries to high end coffee makers and fitness equipment’s.
Brands who were already present in e-commerce are reaping the benefits by compensating the loss of sales from retail stores.
As per kantar they surveyed around 200 brand executives few months ago and found out only 17% believe their organizations are leading competitor’s in Ecommerce. Around 71% say that their organizations are merely catching up the phase.
For these 71% the next few months will be make or break as organizations will be put meet max demand.
To tackle this, companies can follow and implement some of the below mentioned points to succeed in this situation.
This also gives long term lessons for the companies by exploring the online –offline integration, supplementing short term strategy with long term strategy and preparing for the post pandemic demand surge.
Just do it:
As we are already late to enter into E-commerce, it’s time for companies to implement the E-commerce strategy.
One way to implement this strategy is to make everyone responsible by setting the KPI’s around E-commerce. Setting this cross functional KPIs would enable different teams to work together to achieve the common goal.
As per Kantar only 11% of the organizations have functional level e commerce goals in place and 40% still lack even basic e commerce goals. So if your company falls in any of these categories it better to set the goals first and then proceed further.
Don’t go unnoticed:
In this pandemic time most of the brands might be considering to reduce their ad spends. Consumer buying habits might have shifted but they have not stopped spending or might have postponed their spending. stopping the Ad spends entirely creates a void in the customer’s mind which creates a ground for competitors to capture it. So it becomes important for brands to keep up on their brand SEM and avoid letting competitors own their ad placements. It’s also important for the brands to maintain their strong presence in their category to defend themselves from the small challenger brands.
Don’t mix offline tactics with online:
When you are placing a product in the online store, you have entirely different strategy. As in a physical store a brand might be competing with around 100s of products in a category. Whereas E-commerce is vast you brand has to compete with thousands of products.
Unlike a retail store you have to change the product assortment, price and promotional changes in real time to measure the effectiveness else the visibility of your products get reduced as SEO algorithm uses product sales history to generate search results.
With more traffic comes increased page views, which is leads to higher visibility, conversion and revenue. This will in turn lead to higher search ranking, which means more page views then the loop continues.
Agilness of E-commerce can be used as competitive edge against competitors:
As mentioned above we can measure the assortment, pricing and promotion in real time, it gives an advantage for the brand to change their strategy by consistently making the experiments and measuring them in real time.
In fact, many brands use this as a platform to test their new products in small scale before going big.
As per Kantar, only 37% of the brand test and optimize their content to improve sales impact. 61% do not use digital shelf analytics or shopper panel data to test measure and improve their strategies.
Shift your spends to E-commerce:
With this social distancing and Lock downs retails are seeing huge dip in the footfall. It’s time for the brands to shift their focus to their short-term strategy (e-Commerce) by evaluating where consumers are searching and shift the spends accordingly.
Implementing this will not only help the brand to maintain their category share but also helps the brand to stay one step ahead of the competitors those who are still in the process of making their decisions.
As per Reprise digital Consumer have high degree of trust in large market places as they seek stability in this uncertain economy. Consumers believe that the market place scale makes it more likely that they will receive orders in a timely manner. In addition to these consumers are also visiting these large market places to stock up on necessary supplies. By having proper strategy non essential brands should aim to be part of the baskets of necessities.
Determine how your existing assets support E- commerce
Besides shifting the spends towards E-commerce, companies should also analyze which of the existing assets can be additionally utilized to leverage from e-commerce.
Best example for this is China’s cosmetic company Lin Qing Xuan. This cosmetic brand was forced to shut down 40% of its outlets during pandemic, this includes all of their stores in Wuhan. However instead of laying of its merchandisers company took a smart decision to deploy these people to become online influencers who made use of digital tools, such as wechat to virtually engage with consumers and generate sales. This smart move generated in 200% YOY sales growth in Wuhan alone.
Keep the stocks in check.
As we said above E-commerce helps to measure the effectiveness of the strategies in real time. As marketer we should keep a check on the stock levels. Suppose if stock of particular SKU goes down marketer can push another SKU by changing his strategy including changing at the source from which retailer is receiving traffic from.
Apart from that brands will require to rapidly shift which products gets featured in sponsored ads. Brands can maintain efficiency when they have a fluid stock situation.
Delisting out of stock items:
Close the listing immediately after the item goes out of stock. This can be done in seller central in all of the market places. This allows brands to temporally remove the product from list and reactivate when the product is back in stock. Also its suggested a product should not close the listing longer than 7 days as it might have negative impact on SEO algorithm.
Having E-commerce specific content strategy:
Content needs to be sensitive to the situation and provide correct information. Brands which have embraced this approach have great affinity post pandemic. Focus and push to the limit of rich media in the store pages.
Online market places are becoming a destinations and brands are trying to drive the traffic directly there. In many of the platforms product ranking is highly dependent on the product content.
This makes content strategy very important for the brands to help customers to discover their products.
During this time, we will be seeing many consumers trying to purchase online for the first time. Brands grabbing this opportunity might enjoy lifelong customer loyalty which is huge for any brand. The brands which acts swiftly now to get their E-commerce strategy prepared and acts will emerge as winner from the crisis