The impact of COVID-19 on E-commerce
It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise to find out that small businesses are suffering during the current pandemic, but what if there was a clear way out? What if the answer to today’s problems lay in the future?
Recent studies show that the effects of COVID-19 have increased the amount of time spent online, the amount of money spent online, as well as the amount of ad spend needed to promote one’s products online. In fact, the sudden impact of people shopping online has influenced eCommerce in ways no one could have predicted.
This deep shift in shopping behaviour means eCommerce retailers need to take extra care in learning what they need to do to stay relevant because the effects we are seeing today will have a seismic impact for years to come.
With the global market share of eCommerce expected to raise from 10.4% in 2017 to a staggering 22.0% in 2023, this is an unprecedented time for small-businesses to hop on the eCommerce bandwagon and get themselves in the game.
How to set yourself up for success
- Advantages of marketplaces
It’s time to talk strategy, specifically marketplaces. With stores shutting down retail locations, now is the time for your business to adapt and digitize. It’s no longer viable to only sell on your business website, you need to branch out; as the saying goes, don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
By listing your products in marketplaces, you open your business up to a global audience of potential paying customers, without having to put too much additional effort.
One of the most common sales objects for an e-commerce retailer is the lack of trust that clients may have when completing their purchase or entering their payment details. When selling through a marketplace, the stability and credibility of the platform will help negate any of those reluctant feelings through guarantees and safety precautions.
Marketplaces add value to your eCommerce business by providing:
- A massive audience base that your business might not have had before
- Options for more detailed and targeted ad placement
- Customer Support to handle any of your customer’s needs and wants without worrying about returns or issues
- Increase in your brand’s credibility
Marketplaces such as Walmart, Amazon, Etsy, and eBay are all excellent places to start listing your products and begin expanding your eCommerce business’ reach.
But every coin has two sides, and unfortunately, marketplaces have their downsides too, mainly with logistics. Oftentimes, you will end up having to find an expensive local carrier to deliver your products or deal with paying a high commission rate to the marketplace's in-house logistic solutions. However, if you are looking to save some money, and provide your customers with fast, reliable and easy-to-track shipping, these e-commerce shipping solutions will come in handy.
But what if you don’t have a website in place?
- Enroll your business in the ShopHERE program
COVID-19 highlighted the need for having an online presence to sell products and services. In order to address this, the ShopHERE program builds an easy way to provide you with a quick, easy, and no-cost way to get your eCommerce business up and running in no time.
The “new normal” is a digitized future, and with that, every store must adapt to meet the changing needs and wants of the online shopper. This is why the ShopHERE program was created, to allow small businesses to quickly get themselves set up as to not miss out on the opportunities of reaching a global audience, and without having to burn through extra capital.
As the official partnered shipping company of this program, eShipper can help provide all necessary shipping and logistic services to get your products, from the shop, and to the front doors of your paying customers.
- Shipping solutions to drive success for your E-Commerce business
With everything going online, this puts a huge burden on your business to ensure that all orders get shipped to your customers on time, but that means paying for expensive shipping premiums.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you can build a solid shipping strategy foundation for your eCommerce business from the very start, you will be able to adapt quickly to high volume sales, streamline your shipping process and help your business scale effortlessly.
Some shipping basics include:
- Your shipping rates and methods
Will your business pass the costs of shipping to customers? Will you charge a flat-fee or reduced shipping costs? How will you get orders to customers? What about international shipping? As an eCommerce business, you need to figure out several ways to optimize shipping costs to suit your needs and even reduce shipping costs for your business.
- Product weight & dimensions
Make sure to always keep up to date and accurate product information. This will help in making you understand your total costs, as well as provide any necessary information a customer might want to see.
- Brand packaging
How do you want your brand packaging to look? Do you have a place to source this packaging from? What about design? Custom packaging is critical in making sure your brand’s image remains consistent throughout.
- Find your carrier
UPS? DHL? Canada Post? The options are vast, and the pricing structures are complex. If your business is looking for Canada shipping, explore eShipper’s SmarteZone Skipping solution, but if you’re interested in incorporating shipping from Canada to the US in your strategy, then eShipper’s cross-border shipping solution might be a better fit.
Mastering shipping and logistics can be a serious challenge for any online retailer, and considering the high Canada shipping rates, there isn’t much room for error.
However, if done right your shipping strategy can become a powerful tool in giving your eCommerce business a leg up over other competitors, while maintaining low costs, and providing an exceptional customer experience.
Current E-Commerce trends to help your business succeed
Listed below are a few strategies your business can put in place to allow for greater success in this new online space:
- Try your best to modify your products to fit a more “at-home” experience
Show your customers that your products can be found useful at home, and try to cultivate feelings of comfort, reliability, and a sense of stability in your new ad creatives.
- Donate to a great cause(s)
Now is the time to show support to all those fighting on the frontlines in helping us stay safe. Even a small donation can go a long way, and people will be glad that your business is doing its part in supporting the local essential workers.
- Focus on your digital marketing for brand growth
Smart advertising will be crucial in your brand’s long-term success online. Don’t throw money at ads and hope for the best, take time to study trends, learn the basics of Facebook or Google Ads, or hire a professional who can help.
- Let Google be your friend
Google made it free for businesses to list their products on Google Shopping in Canada in mid-October. Getting your products listed for free on Google shopping will be an incredible benefit to boosting your sales and providing in-depth analytics to your marketing strategies and implementations. Google’s audience base is massive and provides local businesses with the opportunity to get their products across to potential customers, through the dedicated online shopping tab, while allowing for custom showcases and hyper-detailed advertising. This is the place you want your business products on! Get started with free listings.
- Don’t forget about the world of social media
The world of social media has opened up its doors to help you sell more and faster. Jump on the bandwagon sooner than later to optimize your strategy to include selling via social media such as Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping.
Both platforms provide incredible value in their ability to integrate customizable showcases of your products within various social feeds, streamline user online shopping experiences across many platforms, and provide free support whenever needed.
This all ties back to making sure your business is efficient and consistent with its brand advertising, as it will go a long way in increasing your business growth.
By transforming your business into an eCommerce experience, you can:
- Expand your brand’s image across many different platforms
- Expand your potential customer base to reach a global audience
- Increase your profit margins, while reducing shipping costs
- Accommodate for any losses your business might have suffered in the beginning few months of this year
- Leverage digital marketing to boost your overall brand's growth
Online shopping is only going to continue to grow over the next few years, and the number of people searching for products to buy is at an all-time high right now. Adapt your business to this “new norm” and capitalize on what might be the birth of a new way of business for the future to come.