The COVID-19 pandemic has created various unprecedented challenges for businesses across the world. The normalization of home quarantine and social distancing has made it difficult for brick-and-mortar retailers to attract customers and drive sales.
On the other hand, the e-commerce market has grown from strength to strength during the pandemic. Worldwide retail e-commerce sales crossed $4.28 trillion at the end of 2020. The figure is projected to reach $5.4 trillion by 2022.
The remarkable rise of e-commerce doesn’t come as a surprise. With consumers retreating indoors to keep the novel coronavirus at bay, online shopping has become their go-to option for purchasing groceries, medicines, electronic appliances, clothes, furniture, and other essentials.
It’s only natural that e-commerce accounted for more than 18% of global retail sales in 2020. So, if you’re looking for a way to sustain your retail store during these turbulent times, start transitioning into the e-commerce landscape now.
In this blog, we’ve outlined a few useful strategies to transform your brick-and-mortar retail business into a profitable online store. Let’s take a look.
1. Figure Out the Logistics
Building a successful e-commerce business takes more effort than just creating an online store using WordPress or Shopify. You must outline a strategy to create a seamless online shopping experience for target consumers.
From flexible cancellation and return policies to free shipping and next-day delivery – there’s plenty you can do to improve customer satisfaction. It’s particularly crucial considering that the e-commerce industry is becoming competitive with more retailers taking the plunge.
So, before you start designing your website and app, make sure you have a clear idea of the logistics needed to run an eCommerce business. Start by finding a trusted freight forwarding company that’ll ensure timely shipping and delivery of orders.
Find a service provider that caters to the locations of your target consumers. If you’re planning to ship your products abroad, it’s wiser to choose an international freight forwarder like the U.K.-based MA Logistics.
Before finalizing a vendor, check with them to find out whether they provide additional services, such as insurance and customs clearance. The right freight forwarding company will go a long way to improve customer experience and boost retention and loyalty.
Apart from hassle-free shipping, you also need to provide customers with round-the-clock support. Build a team of skilled customer service professionals who will walk users through any issues they face at various stages of the buyer’s journey. Also, provide multiple customer support channels, including social media, email, phone, live chat, etc.
2. Prioritize Packaging
The downside of online shopping is that you don’t get to interact with customers in person and build a strong rapport with them. But you can still forge a connection and make your brand more personable with effective use of packaging.
Instead of resorting to run-of-the-mill packaging materials and designs that you’ve been using for so long, focus on incorporating unique elements that reflect your brand’s values and vision. It’s one of the most effective tools for making a striking impression on first-time customers and boosting your brand’s recall value.
Include handwritten “thank you” notes, free gifts, and discounts coupons to make your customers even more valued. Also, choose sustainable packaging materials to show that your priorities include more than just revenue and ROI.
3. Outline a Cross-Platform Marketing Strategy
A great customer experience and eye-catching packaging will only step into the picture after a consumer visits your online store. But first, you have to attract them to your website/app with powerful marketing campaigns.
The key is to leverage various digital marketing channels and create a buzz about your online store even before it’s ready for a launch. Connect with your existing customers via social media platforms and email to build awareness. It’s also a good idea to host a giveaway before the launch to maximize traction.
Don’t forget to use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve your online store’s visibility on search engines. Similarly, if you’re launching a mobile app, use app store optimization to increase downloads on popular app stores.
You can also run paid ad campaigns on social media platforms and search engines to expand your reach. Even if the online storefront isn’t ready, you can direct users to a landing page that highlights introductory offers and discounts.
4. Leverage Tech
Modern e-commerce retailers use a wide array of technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), to take the customer experience up a notch. Also, use analytics software to collect and process customer data from your website and app. It’ll help you create personalized product recommendations and content to skyrocket sales and revenue.
Stay Ahead of the Curve with Your Online Storefront
Transitioning into e-commerce is the only for brick-and-mortar retailers to sail through the pandemic. Instead of waiting for things to go back to the way they were, prepare for the new normal by creating an online storefront that offers a seamless shopping experience. Utilize data and analytics to better understand your customers and tailor your offerings to their needs.