Running an ecommerce business is challenging at the best of times, but in the current situation with Covid-19 and things changing by the day, that challenge is amplified. But what’s entrepreneurship without challenge? It can be confusing trying to figure out what the best practice is for your store, communicating with customers, dealing with suppliers, etc. We’re here to share some simple advice for how you can help navigate your store through the storm.
Shipping & Deliveries
With disruptions to deliveries across the board, it’s important to both keep great communication with your suppliers and distribution partners, and make your customers aware of any potential delays to orders. If your business relies on materials and products coming from external suppliers, keep a good line of communication with them so you can give accurate information to customers about product availability and stock updates. Talk to the companies you work with for shipping and distribution, and keep yourself informed on delays on their end so you can keep customers informed. Feed this info through order confirmations and updates, on your website, and through social media.
As well as this, you may be experiencing higher orders, staff working from home, or both. In this instance, order fulfillment might be slower than usual. Review your current fulfilment process and see where you may need to add time or extra steps to ensure nothing gets missed and orders are completed without causing stress. In more extreme cases, you may also consider reducing your catalog slightly to prioritise best-selling or popular items which will help smooth out the fulfilment process a little more.
Not impacted in terms of shipping? Great! Mention that on your store as well. Adding “We’re still open and processing orders!” in your announcement bar can be a much-needed trust builder right now.
Content & Promotions
It’s important right now to be present and visible to your audience. It not only allows you to provide them with important information about things like current shipping issues, but also just to maintain that connection with your audience that you’ve spent time building!
It is possible to both be sensitive to the current situation and create interesting content that promotes your products. You just have to be a bit creative and think about what your potential customers might be interested in right now. That might be promoting loungewear and activewear instead of going-out apparel, coffee and food subscription boxes for treats at home, tech must-haves for working from home etc. Think of your products in the context of customers being at home and what they might need or want to make staying home more comfortable. Outside of promoting your products, be sure to share some positive, upbeat content. Engage your audience and ask them for photos or videos of how they’re spending their time at home and share these with your audience for a dose of positivity in your feed.
With promotions, there are two strategies to consider. The first is product bundling - create bundles of products that complement each other that customers might find useful. For example beginner’s kits for new hobbies they may take up. Want to know a little more about product bundling? Click here for the blog we wrote previously on that topic.
The second promotion to consider is offering some kind of discount to frontline essential workers - this both gives a little back to people who could use a treat, and shows your community of followers that you care.
Email is already one of the best forms of communicating directly with your customers and audience, so you can probably guess it’s even more important right now. There are two things you should be doing with email marketing at this time.
The first is updating all your automated content and workflows. The reason being that the language around some policies or shipping times etc. may have changed given the current situation. Your customers need the most up-to-date information possible when they’re placing orders or checking in on promotions on your products. As well as updating the language, you should also make any announcements about shipping and customer service obvious in any order related emails linking to relevant FAQ pages on your website. And lastly, consider adding in an extra automation within your order workflow that gives a quick update to customer orders if they’re taking a while. For example if you typically send an order confirmation email then the next email in the workflow is a shipping notification, add in an extra email between those if your order fulfilment and shipping times are a bit longer than normal to reassure the customer that their order is being dealt with. This not only builds a stronger relationship between the customer and your brand, but also saves your team receiving customer service requests from customers asking what’s happening with their order.
The second way to use email marketing is in a similar vein to content on social media in promoting your products and promotions. If your business can relate to how people are behaving at the moment - i.e. staying at home - then promote those products through email. Show customers how they could be incorporating your products into their life at home, and remember to be creative and sensitive with it.
People will have lots of questions right now about orders they’re either hoping to place or have already placed. Your customer service may have a bit more pressure on it, so make sure your team is prepared. Put in all order emails and on your website any potential delays to customer service responses, and link a situation specific FAQ. That FAQ should include any product availability issues, shipping information, etc. and should be updated whenever situations change. On top of this, create a guide for your team of how enquiries should be dealt with including frequent queries and solutions as well as how they should be escalated. This should help ease pressure on your team handling enquiries, and speed up the process for any worried customers.
Useful Apps & Ideas
We’ve already mentioned that order fulfilment and shipping might pose a problem for your business at this time, so a useful tool you can use is Back In Stock notifications. This is especially useful if you’re scaling back your catalog for a period of time or supplier issues result in a long delay to a popular product being available. Customers will still be interested in the products, so make sure they can be notified when that product is available. Using Klaviyo for email marketing? They have their own back in stock integration that works great as well.
Customer service is extremely important right now, which is why we recommend using Gorgias to handle all of your customer support in one place. Your customer support inquiries and social media comments will all appear in one place so your customer service team doesn’t miss a beat when new requests come in.
Help your customers get the answers they need quickly by offering a live chat option. If you’re using Gorgias as mentioned above, they have a live chat feature that can be integrated right into your store. If customer service is handled elsewhere, there are plenty of free and low-cost apps in the Shopify App Store to get you started here.
In times of stress, we’re more likely to make a quick mistake if our attention is being pulled in several different directions. This is why we recommend using Rewind, a service that will back up your Shopify store and even additional third party services to which they have integrated. Having a backup of your store will be one less thing for you to worry about during this busy time.