At a time when certain product categories are in very high demand but the ability of the e-commerce platforms to supply them is limited, it can be a big challenge to manage customer expectations and take advantage of every opportunity to sell your products. With over-the-counter retail sales drying up and customers turning to online purchases more than ever, it is also a big task to ensure you grab and retain a fair share of the online market. According to BBC, there has been a boom in demand for exercising goods, indoor and outdoor games, reading material, home and garden supplies, electronic gadgets, etc. all items intended to keep busy customers unable to step out of their homes. Regardless of whether your sales have collapsed or you are facing unprecedented demand for your items, here are a few practical ideas that can help online sellers to bounce back and retain customer loyalty in the post-COVID-19 era:
Monitor Closely the Rapidly Changing Search Behavior Onsite
If you have never paid much attention to on-site search, this is the time you should focus on it for understanding what your customers are looking for once they have landed on your site. It is more than likely that the context of the searches in the pre- and post-COVID periods is entirely different. For example, searches for gloves in January were possibly quite different from what they are now. This makes it very important to ensure that you can understand the context of the searches at this point to be able to stay relevant and boost conversions. It can be that the seller has what customers are looking for, only the onsite search function does not recognize the search terms because they are relatively new and not associated with the products. As a result, customers will be disappointed when their searches do not turn up the products they were expecting, and apart from costing valuable sales, the reputation of the online seller will also suffer. When you need to be scrambling to stay relevant to what customers are demanding, getting an insight into the search terms on your site search function can be invaluable
Offer Alternatives When Specific Products Are Out of Stock
One of the most far-reaching impacts of the pandemic is the disruption in the supply chain as a result of which many products are out of stock. For e-commerce platforms, overcoming this problem can be a huge issue, especially for categories that are facing very high demand and supply is relatively far less or non-existent. Customers will be trying a very large number of sellers to purchase the required products but will invariably face disappointment because all sellers will be displaying out of stock signs. Rather than having the customer leaving your site frustrated, it can be a very good idea to provide the customer with alternative products than can satisfy his requirement as well and win a sale that was lost by others. For example, if the customer was looking for a particular brand of protein shake, the SEO Company can tweak the search engine to provide alternatives that can act as effective substitutes.
Allow Search Filtering By “Items in Stock”
At a time when inventory management for online sellers has become a nightmare, it can be very frustrating for shoppers to keep on discovering that whatever they are looking for is out of stock. To prevent shoppers from getting turned off, online merchants can think of an additional filter by using which customers will get only the products that are in stock listed on their search results page. For example, if they hare look for hand sanitizers, applying the “in-stock” filter will only yield results for brands that they can buy and not the entire set, most of which are labeled “out-of-stock” or “not available”. By permitting customers to only look at items they can add to their shopping carts, the user experience improves and conversions get a big boost. By providing the filter, you can also promote brands that typically get overshadowed by their more popular but now out of stock cousins. For a customer experience that will be really appreciated, you can add a filter to show which items are expected to be available within a specific period.
Add A “Notify Me” CTA When Product Is in Stock
At a time when you are possibly facing stock out situations regularly with demand far outstripping the supply, you can encourage conversions by adding a “Notify Me” CTA for products that are currently out of stock. When a customer clicks on it, he will automatically get a notification the next time the product is available. The email you send out can also be personalized with offers depending on his purchase and search behavior, which will encourage conversions. As an alternative to sending emails, you can also retarget visitors who may have expressed an interest in a product that was out of stock. This can work very well for popular items because of the increased time people are now spending online.
Increase Product Prices If Required
When certain products are in very short supply, it can benefit the bottom lines of online sellers to increase the prices because you know that customers will snap them up even then. However, the price increases must not be done with any intent of profiteering but only as a reasonable offset to the increased cost of operations that your business may be undertaking due to sanitation, PPE, additional consumption of cleaning products, lower availability of staff, cost of masks, etc. Increasing prices to make up for the erosion of the profit margin can be good business sense; however, customers must not feel that they are being ripped off.
To ensure that your online business remains sustainable even during massive disruptions in supply and demand, you need to be quick on the draw and find innovative solutions to challenging issues. Engaging with customers and staying relevant to their rapidly changing needs is essential to ensure that customers do not take their business elsewhere. Use creative ways of connecting with your customers to retain their interest and loyalty while obtaining valuable feedback on what they want from you.