It all started with Jake Cohen…
I was looking at the Daily Covid-19 Ecommerce Insights put together by Klaviyo. After discussing with Jake, their Head of Product Marketing, I was intrigued about the tips he shared when answering the question: what should eCommerce managers do right now?
Head of Product Marketing @ Klaviyo
What I do believe though is that this is a tremendous period of education for consumers around the world because they can’t go to the stores like they normally would, to get the things that they need. And the things that they need are different as well. So their purchase triggers are actually changing and increasing in frequency. A lot of people are learning how to shop online. And so we’ve been tracking how many consumers are actually shopping online. And the gross number of people who actually make a purchase, unique shoppers, goes up every single week.
And what we’re also seeing is that because e-commerce sales overall are growing. My hypothesis is that consumers are also buying more categories than they previously purchased in the past.
It’s different, it’s a different way of thinking about what online is. So I think that you know a year or whatever from now when we look back and we look at the overall consumer spending and what percentage of that is owned by e-commerce.
Last year it was about 15 percent give or take. My hypothesis is that when this is said and done it’s going to see an immediate step function up to the lower 22-23-24%.
As best as you can, you should put your foot on the gas. Now it’s not the time to wait and see, it’s time to GO..
Watch the whole talk here
In today’s eCommerce world, a world shattered and remodeled by the undeniable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce managers have a hard journey ahead.
Besides dealing with an extremely uncertain period where sales go either up or down there is no time for predictable results.
What is clear is that COVID-19 has changed the way we buy, the way we interact with stores and not to mention the way we look at Customer Experience as buyers.
So… what should eCommerce Managers do NOW?
After talking to Jake Cohen, just like Morgan Freeman in the Story of God, we went and talked to international marketing experts and brought back the best advice possible for eCommerce Managers about how to deal with the constantly challenging and demanding industry they are in.
We wish! We actually worked from home and all of actually happened via email 🙂
Founder @ GrowthX
Right now, e-commerce managers should be focused on their customers and their problems. Not their own products.
Start by exploring all of the ways you can serve your existing customers where they are right now through customer development interviews. These interviews should be live if possible. Dig deep to understand any immediate needs they have and explore ways to deliver it to them.
Don’t be afraid to build deeper relationships with your customers. There has never been a better time to do so.
Then go back, map your findings and prioritize the opportunities to test by the fastest path to traction for you and your organization.
Keep an open mind! You already know how to deliver happiness and satisfaction via e-commerce channels. Just keep doing that!
And remember, no one cares about your products anyway. They care about their problems.
Managing Partner @ Conversion Sciences
Take “virtual” market share now, and real market share when things begin to return.
In many categories, people are reluctant to spend money due to uncertainty.
For others, new visitors are coming to their site, people who have never bought their product online before. These buyers are going to be more methodical, slower to buy.
In both cases, you are going to see more visitors leave before buying. This should be unacceptable. Consider prioritizing your list-building offers.
Your mailing list is like a market share battery. You charge it now when purchases are slow, and discharge the value when things begin to rebound. Offer free content, free products, free advice, buyers guides — anything relevant to future buyers.
He who has the biggest list will win in the next bull market.
For people who have been fortunate to keep their jobs & stay home, they’re finding their expenses have gone down while their income has remained the same. This unexpected liquidity coupled with a desire for retail therapy has resulted in spending going up in unexpected places.
As people spend more money & time online than ever, pay-per-click ad costs are down 15–22%, all while return on ad spend is hitting record highs for some brands. We’re seeing some very successful product launches as a result.
People are buying directly from brands more than ever in a desire to get their items faster, support independent businesses, and try new things. They still have basic concerns you have to address though. Make sure to announce in a message bar at the top of your site that says “yes, we’re still shipping,” because if you don’t, it isn’t obvious that you aren’t affected by the pandemic and no longer shipping.
If you can’t make sales at the moment, you can and should focus on community building. Right now you have one of the easiest times ever to connect with your audience. You know what’s top of mind for 99% of people. Now, more than ever, it’s a great time to Be A Human, and connect with your audience, and find out what valuable offering you could produce for them. Maybe that comes in the form of a candid survey on your site, an email welcome series asking for replies, or launching your first Facebook group.
Integrated Data Analyst @ Escape Ltd.
Five things during this crisis:
1. Analyze your most sold articles during this time. These tips could save your business when the next one arrives. Not IF, WHEN!
2. Analyze the best delivery/courier service (lowest number of customer claims/complaints). Learn why they are the best and pick for the future delivery only 2 or 3 of them. Price of delivery is not an issue!
3. Analyze your web-traffic and transaction sources. When this crisis is over, those sources should be the highest priority in postcrisis time efforts. Most loyal customers are there.
4. Check the efficiency of your call-center or chat-center employees. They should be the fishbone of your future business. A satisfied customer now is 5 to 10 times more valuable. A good employee is the foundation of your business and growth.
5. Analyze yourself. What did you think was most important before the crisis, what do you think is now.
After analyzing these five things you don’t see any change before and during the crisis, good for you. You have done everything possible to anticipate this crisis and will probably survive the next one also.
If something surprisingly good (or bad) happens to your business during this time, it’s an opportunity to grow and develop your business after the crisis. Often people don’t see the tree in the woods. In this time you have an extraordinary A/B testing opportunity on scale. Don’t miss it out.
Founder and CEO @ Binary Bear Limited
If you’re an eCommerce business now, brands who are doing well are those that are not panicking and are open with their customers.
Clearly, in the short term there will be sectors with winners- grocery is the obvious one (in the UK between Feb 24 and Mar 21 UK customers spent an extra £2bn). Home and Garden, fitness products and toys are also up. Losers are likely to be apparel and luxury goods- but for every Primark (no eCommerce and losing £650m a month)-there are brands like Sports Direct focusing on comfortable clothing and home workout gear. Their email campaigns are targeting the same users as normal, but with suitable products for the times. Gap, in contrast, are leading with heavy discounts on impractical products like coats (er, we can’t go anywhere guys, and, have you seen the weather?). The other short-term focus is protect your brand- keep your online customers informed about changes to delivery and shipping lead times (AO.com haven’t changed their USP bar, it still says “next day delivery”). Inform customers about what you’re doing to encourage safe practices in your warehouses.
In the background, senior eCommerce managers need to plan for the ‘new normal’ and a slow recovery. This means flexibility on traditional seasonality (staggered back to school and holiday times throughout the rest of 2020), exploring diversifying supply chains, and accelerating projects that aim to reorganize your proposition around digital.
Founder @ Prisync
Due to the current situation consumer needs have shifted towards increased demand for certain products. Initially, e-commerce managers might think that any item that falls into these highly-demanded categories could be sold at any price and increase sales growth compared to previous periods. However, this might lead to a scenario where they can leave a lot of money on the table unknowingly. To avoid such an issue, managers should be closely monitoring their competitors’ prices and set prices that follow their market on the aforementioned products. This approach will always separate the winners from losers no matter where the demand is moving to or which item is popular that year and ensure the company stands strong throughout many years rather than shorter periods.
For companies that have a surplus of product stock with low-demand, they should consider smart discounting. Instead of dealing with inventory costs and risk of the items getting deprecated, out of fashion, or inedible, they need to have an assessment of what might happen to the inventory if days, weeks, or months pass without a sale. Considering such danger managers might have to give up on some of the profits they could’ve made but at least they will have the opportunity in the upcoming periods to compensate for that.
Digital Marketing Consultant @ Upping
Engage in conversational marketing – create a chatbot that not only offers FAQs about the products but to guide the buyer through the shopping process and give suggestions. The ground zero for this is, of course, great content. A clever chatbot could very well mean the difference in the new (e)commerce era in which we are all pushed into.
If your revenue is down: think of how to provide value now, how to creatively help your (former) clientbase still reach their goals.
If your revenue is up: think about how you can make this last and keep the business/customers after things return to “normal” (whatever that is) because this period of high traffic/revenue won’t last.
Director & Board Member @ IIH Nordic
We are currently experiencing a major flux in both the customers purchase behavior at the same time as the marketers are shifting their budget around or shutting down – For instance we have seen Amazon reduce their spend on Adwords by half – for now.
This provides a very unpredictable market where we really can’t trust “the old rules of the game” anymore and the new rules are still being written. If you use the image that the game has changed from playing chess in a well-lit room to a karate fight at dusk on the deck of a ship in a storm you get the idea.
It hurts me to say, but all your historical data is not a good asset to build on right now.
This however also provides a massive opportunity for the right mind-set. Where we see the best results for a lot of ecommerce right now is from ultra-short-term thinking combined with massive testing. It is basically setting up a system to go back through your different tests and marketing to quickly evaluate if they would provide a different outcome under the current circumstances.
Use your understanding of the different channels to challenge your assumptions on what works in which channels. The key focus is speed, we have already seen 2 or 3 major changes in online purchase patterns since the beginning of the pandemic, so prepare to continue to test and adapt fast.
Also beware that the current changes will impact future behavior, it is not enough to just pause your campaigns and expect the world to return to “how it was” in a couple of weeks, we are on a path to a “new now”.
Co-Founder @ Verified Data
Get on top of your data quality! Most businesses think they are sitting on a goldmine of data – if only they had time/resources/the right tools to analyse it. The truth is, that most businesses are sitting on a pile of crap data! That is, data full of noise, duplicates, inaccurate and incorrect data – as well as missing data that often leads any serious analysis down dead end roads.
Fortunately the fixes are often quite simple, but first you need to find the problems – the hard part. Although easy to define, actually finding bad data is like looking for needles in haystacks. This is due to the volume of data involved, and the constantly moving goal posts of your website being updated. However automation, via smart tools like verified-data.com, is your solution. Connect with me on LinkedIn.com for an exclusive summit upgrade offer 🙂
Director Emeritus @ Digital Analytics Association – Author & Keynote Speaker
eCommerce managers should be going out of their way to ensure the functionality of their platforms. Heavy testing is called for, rather than just being glad there are no errors. Customers are relying more and more on the online experience – the ability to buy from you has to be solid. Go back to square one – old school – and run the Mother Test (it’s so easy, my mother can use it), the 5 random people test (ask people you do not know to try and buy something from you), and the stress test (ask an acquaintance who does not know your company to find your site through Google, shop, and buy something as fast as possible). Then listen very carefully to their feedback.
eCommerce managers should also be focused on first principles of marketing. This is a time when people are thinking about doing things differently and they need to clearly understand why your offer is the right one. Narrow your focus on those who will absolutely benefit and target them with the specific benefits you are certain they will receive. Do not try to be all things to all people.
Finally, respond to your prospects and customers as personally as possible. Be as human as you can.
Founder @ AG Consult
Do everything you can to delight your customers
If you deliver a WOW customer experience now, you will reap the benefits for a long time to come.
But your idea of a great customer experience might be different from what your customers think. Extra problem: if you ask your customers ‘how good’ their experience was, they will lie to you. Result: you think you’re doing GREAT when in reality the feeling is more, well … MEH.
So how to solve this?
By asking the right questions. ?
? Questions like ‘How happy …’ or ‘How likely…’ trick people into answering in a more positive way. Which means you get results that make you happy when they are in fact a lie.
? A neutral question: ‘How happy or unhappy …’ is already much better.
? Even more important is the follow-up question. When people rate you a 9 out of 10 for example, ask this: What’s the one thing we need to change for you to rate us a 10 next time? Those answers will actually help you improve your customer experience.
? Focus more on customer unhappiness. ‘How hard was it to … ‘ is guaranteed to get you a lower rating. But it will also give you a lot more valuable feedback to actually improve your customer experience.
Not great for your ego.
But better for your company and your revenue.
If you don’t do this, your increased revenue of today will be a blip on the radar, nothing more.
If you don’t create a WOW experience, people will stop buying from you the minute they can.
And they’ll go right back to those other companies. The ones that do offer a great customer experience.
Co-Founder @ Right Inbox
Invest in your brand on social media.
People are spending more time than ever on their devices.
Put some time into your content, think before every post why am I publishing this, does it align with our brand.
It’s also important to have the back-end tools in place to let customers share products and recent purchases with friends and followers.
Keynote Speaker & Trainer, Executive Marketing Advisor, Bestselling Author
All of your traffic is down – you are screwed!
Actually not… This is the perfect time to fix your online experience including significant issues with your website and your email communications.
An expert review of your website and redesigning it now allows you to come out stronger after the traffic returns.
Founder @ Online Dialogue
Most eCommerce managers have seen their business growing to levels they were not expecting ever to happen within the next 5 years. The big challenge now is to retain that level of transactions when the external circumstances go back to normal. You really want to nurture all those new digital customers coming in now.
If you are able to persuade them to keep on buying with you (and if not with you, at least through the digital channel), then the future will look bright. If you can pull this off with your current team (and of course you can always reach out for the help of me and the Online Dialogue team), then you can prepare yourself to double your digital team in the next 12 months.
This brings a new challenge: rapid team growth needs a solid structure. Make sure you have a good set-up for evidence-based growth and validation throughout your organization. Don’t waste this given opportunity. Stay safe, stay healthy, and grow your business!
Special Ops @ Yoast
Invest in SEO. Whilst times are hard and budgets are strained, it’s tempting to start reducing spend and activity on areas which don’t appear to generate an immediate, tangible return. But your audience is still searching in your problem space, and they’ll continue to do so regardless of what the world looks like in the months and years to come. Even though those audiences may be spending less, they’re still researching, and they’re still planning purchase decisions. So if you want to reach those people early in their decision-making processes, to influence brand recall and preference, and to grow your market share, then SEO remains the most cost-effective way to do that. Reducing spend on SEO strategies at this point will mean that active competitors will outpace you exponentially as your performance stalls, and you’ll struggle to close that gap in the future.
In practical terms, this means ensuring that your website is technically robust – fast, mobile-friendly, and error-free – and that your content strategy helps to meet the needs and solve the problems of your audience. As purchase, cycles slow down, and as there’s less transactional intent, your content must more than ever focus on answering questions, providing support, and offering resources. It’s not enough to be an online store that just sells things; you must provide value to your audience, beyond your product inventory. It’s not enough to put text on your category pages; your brand must mean something more than your logo and color palette. Brands who continue to tie their performance directory to their catalog will fail, as users want and need different types of content during these trying times.
Author of “Friction” & Keynote Speaker
Now is the time to gain ecommerce market share. The Amazon juggernaut has been stalled by the pandemic, despite their sales jump. French warehouses are closed, and in the U.S. deliveries for “nonessential” items have slipped from 48 hours or less to weeks. I’ve found myself leaving Amazon to seek out ecommerce firms who could deliver more quickly, and I’m sure many other Amazon customers are doing the same.
One area of weakness I’ve noticed on many eCommerce sites is their on-site search. Autosuggest may be absent or not very good. Search results aren’t as relevant as they should be. The number of results on a page may be fixed instead of adjustable by the customer. It’s important to minimize search effort to move customers quickly toward their goal, so do a deep dive into behavior metrics to see what might slow them down.
Another search feature that is missing on some sites is the ability to search customer reviews. I use this feature every time I am researching a product at Amazon to determine if the product is likely to fit my needs. But, I see sites that display just a few reviews on a page and have no search function. No customer is going to slowly page through a hundred reviews based on the chance of finding some relevant comment.
High-effort interactions hurt conversion and encourage customers to shop elsewhere. If you want customers to buy not just once but again and again, make it easy!
Director Of Strategic Partnerships @ WordStream
It’s seldom the simple case that your customers see your ads, arrive at your site, and buy immediately. Even your loyal customers may make multiple searches over a few days before buying from you – and during that time your competitors are vying for their attention with their ads.
Invest your time in building past customer and visitors lists to remarket to and cater to your ads and campaigns to bring them back. Even outside of search and shopping, consider how you want to reach your best audiences with video and social as well!
Founder @ Bucket Studio
Tend to your garden. Don’t overthink today’s turbulence with fleeting offers or tactics when you may be flunking some UX fundamentals that are easily observed, inexpensively fixed—and yet are likely to be materially impacting your conversion or retention.
For example, how much of your abandonment or bounce rate is attributable to poorly designed form micro-interactions that could be addressed with a little explanatory microcopy? Just the other week Baymard Institute found that 58% of eCommerce providers don’t explain why they require phone numbers, and it’s a proven trigger for many users who split: https://www.baymard.com/blog/explain-phone-number-field
Then, ask yourself: Is that the only overlooked landmine in my customer experience?
Founder @ Conversion Optimized
Stay true to your customer. As always, focus on what the customer finds valuable in your product. Right now, it’s even more challenging for consumers to filter the signal from the noise, so be mindful to send out a signal that stays true to your customer. Don’t add to the noise.
Have empathy for your customers. We’re all in this together. If people are looking for something to cheer them up and provide hope, doing so stays true to your customer & their values.
eCommerce managers need to throw out the old playbook and continue to adjust on-the-fly to our rapidly changing reality. The past two months have required eCommerce businesses to be nimble, to adapt quickly, and to readjust strategies to match the needs of their customers and business. The result: Some sectors saw massive growth, and even sectors that struggled (like apparel and luxury) saw a bounce back through April. In order to continue the rebound, nimbleness remains crucial. Here is our advice:
First, as the northern hemisphere heads into summer, because of stay-at-home orders and continued social distancing, usual summer shopping patterns are likely to be delayed. Traditional summer items will be sold deeper into the season and back-to-school shopping may happen later, as well. Traditional “summer” images like barbecues and beach parties would be tone-deaf in 2020, so avoid those in your marketing.
Another challenge: While the shutdowns all happened around the same time, reopening is far more staggered. That’s going to necessitate segmentation to deliver relevant offers to customers based on their location. It’s also going to require extremely measured and sensitive promotions, as many customers in re-opening areas will be cautious and not quite ready for marketing-as-usual.
Finally, for many businesses, the past two months have been all about getting cash in the door. Now could be the time to put an eye toward the future. What changes to your business (and industry) may be permanent? Things like click-and-collect and ordering essentials and perishables online could be here to stay. And while many businesses have stopped advertising, if you have the budget, now could be a good time to experiment with high-funnel ads while the price is down—figure out new ways you can build your customer base in the future.
Founder @ WiderFunnel & GO Group Digital, Author, Keynote Speaker
Be sensitive. In a time when people are feeling a high level of Anxiety due to the pandemic and economic crisis, your customer experience should shift away from Urgency toward Anxiety-reduction. Think about how you can emphasize confidence, assurance, and guarantees (without the over-used COVID messages.)
Be relevant. Conduct more frequent qualitative studies to stay in touch with your customers’ emotional needs. Their needs are changing weekly and if you aren’t in touch you risk coming across as tone-deaf.
Be innovative. Business as usual is in the past. Now is the time to test new innovations in all areas of business so you can be a part of the new normal to come.
Chief Ecommerce Technologist @ Ecommercetech.io
Assuming your business has been stable or at least has stabilized after the drastic change in market dynamics…
My first suggestion would be to include cause marketing into your marketing strategy. There’s a slick tool called ShoppingGives that makes it easy to set up a donation as a percent of sales, convey it to the customer, and choose your cause.
For mid-sized and enterprise eCommerce merchants, I would be thinking very strongly about moving into retail. Yeah, into retail. It will take 3 – 6 months to open a retail location, which could nicely align with the re-opening of the world economy. If you can take the risk, I’d recommend bridging your online experience with a unique, well-branded in-store experience.
And if you haven’t already, you need a strong loyalty program. Those winning in eCommerce are doing it for one simple reason: They keep the customer longer. Loyalty programs are key to building a lifetime relationship with each customer. Also, combine that program with the in-store experience and you can expect a major increase in lifetime value. And if you already have a loyalty program and haven’t changed it since February… It’s time for an overhaul!
Other than that, I’d look for new eCommerce partnerships with related products and stores that may be interested in co-branded or bundled product offerings. Now seems like a great time to launch some unique product offerings that cater to the slightly different needs of the COVID and post-COVID world.
CEO @ Omniconvert / Keynote Speaker
There’s a flood of customers migrating online.
In order to cope with all these new customers, you might be thinking the idea is to just ship the products.
If you just ship the products, you’ll be “just another online store”.
And you don’t want that.
There are high chances that the same products you sell are being sold by many others.
So, what makes you different? What makes you memorable? What makes your first-time customers come back?
The fact that you care more.
And you show you care from the very beginning of your relationship with them.
By crafting an outstanding customer experience.
And you craft that outstanding CX by listening and understanding your customers.
You don’t have to deliver.
You have to delight.
Now that you have insights from the best Digital Marketing experts in the field it’s time for you to go out there and apply all these methods and make sure you help your store thrive.