As our economy is ravaged by uncertainty as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, it can be easy to find ourselves in a downward spiral of doom and gloom. From hotels to fitness centers to restaurants and more, industries across the spectrum are bracing themselves for unprecedented changes that no one can quite yet predict.
It’s vital to the health of our businesses - and ourselves - to look for opportunities and silver linings. Ecommerce business owners are in a unique position to leverage new opportunities and stay afloat in a rapidly changing marketplace. In an age of social distancing and sheltering in place, online shopping offers a sense of safety, comfort, and peace of mind.
Our customers need us now more than ever. If there were ever a time to get creative, this is it.
And what better place to adapt to our new reality than social media?
Even in the best of times, social commerce is an excellent way for ecommerce stores to make themselves visible to their target audience. And in the absence of face-to-face connection, more and more people are flocking to social media to virtually connect with friends and loved ones.
Here are three reasons to consider using social commerce to amplify your social media presence during these trying times.
Grow your audience. With more eyes on social media platforms, more eyes will be naturally drawn to the content and products you share.
Life has slowed down for most of us, and people have more time on their hands. Focus on catching their attention, rack up the likes and shares, and you just may find yourself connecting with people like never before.
An added bonus: From tweets to Facebook pages to Instagram business accounts, most platforms make it easy to track these metrics and tweak your message accordingly.
Create customer loyalty. The state of the economy is affecting us all. People are clutching their purse strings tightly, and understandably so. No matter how enticing an ad may look, even the most eager customers may be focusing on more pressing essentials.
Even though sales may be sluggish, social commerce lets businesses connect with people in a myriad of other unique ways. You could focus on offering entertaining, thought-provoking content, or you could focus on communicating and building rapport. Whichever strategy you choose, now is the time to make a mark on people’s minds so they’ll remember you when they’re ready to buy.
Become a beacon of hope. Simply put, people are terrified. They’re afraid for their families and their finances.
Engaging with customers with social commerce offers business owners a special opportunity to be a calming, soothing presence for people amidst all the chaos and uncertainty.
We - our customers, our suppliers, our businesses, and ourselves - are all in this together. A common thread connects us all.
You and your customers can help each other through this. Communicate this to them.
Whether it’s promoting your work with local charities, providing easier access to comforting essentials, or simply offering some reassurance, people will remember the businesses who helped them through these unprecedented times.
These will be the businesses who weather the storm.
For seasoned ecommerce sellers, those struggling through their first year, or even newbies, the decision on how and where to peddle your goods is critical. Everyone is familiar with the colossal platforms Amazon and eBay, Shopify, and more. They offer a vast audience full of potential customers. They also offer an almost insurmountable level of competition.
You aren’t stuck with them. Using good research skills, you can pinpoint an alternative market. We have some tips for exploring product-specific markets, or those that are best suited to your business.
The importance of choosing the right platform relates to the reason they exist in the first place. Ecommerce stores allow you to collectively manage products, offer promotions and sales, personalize the sales and service experience, and access analytics to see what is and is not working. Completely customizable, the best of these facilitate personalized content. In short, you can create a brand for yourself without investing in and counting on a solo website.
Surprise! Count yourself as one of millions of ecommerce merchants who likely never anticipated the type of global disruption facing virtually every individual and every entity today. By now you and everyone you know is operating in crisis mode both personally and professionally. Your business may be your first priority, and the news there is mixed.
Since the COVID-19 virus took hold overseas, eventually making its way to the US, economic impacts have been devastating. The financial markets tumbled. Tourism is in near-halt mode. And those who sell goods and services are in a veritable desert; a Catch-22 scenario of either lacking customers or a supply chain to meet customer needs.
The struggle is real, and despite criticism of unnecessary panic, an all-out shift in operations is no longer just a possibility. Running an online store during this cross-continental crisis demands creativity to mitigate inventory shortages, shipping uncertainties, and uncomfortable customer communications. Industry analyst Bruce Biegel notes that this is the first genuine global crisis experienced in high volume by the ecommerce sector.
Amazon sellers are all too familiar. That company, in a panic over how to fill orders safely, has placed a temporary moratorium on third-party vendors. No word on when or if that will lift in the near future.
Even giants like Microsoft and Apple Computer are sounding the alarm about significant sales drops, with Apple recently deciding to temporarily close all retail locations outside of China.
It’s not hyperbolic to proclaim that computers are taking over our communications. Considering smartphones and tablets are effectively mini-computers, it’s safe to say that between emails, texts, and online chatting, the days of verbal interaction are waning.
The development of the “chatbot,” a cute moniker for pop-up screens that allow one-on-one interactions, originated from old-style chatrooms and expanded to take on a more commercial application. If you’re in the biz to sell goods or services, you may find yourself gravitating to that medium in order to provide optimal customer service.
Here’s a figure to knock your socks off: In 2018 there were more than 300,000 active chats on Facebook alone. That social media platform is an ideal venue, but considering this next statistic may be even more shocking. Experts say chatbots will likely handle more than 85 percent of all customer service interactions this year.
Here’s how it works: Your potential or existing customers have a question about a product, or an existing order. A chat icon on your page opens a chat window in which you and the customer may engage in a friendly discussion.
In a pleasant turn of events, sophisticated consumers are no longer automatically averse to email solicitations. Perhaps the years have instilled patience and discretion, leaving them more open to opening an email even if it isn’t from a colleague, romantic interest, or their mom.
That said, there is a method of madness to employ when crafting a direct mail campaign strategy – or really, any form of communication between your business and a current or prospective customer. And it’s something few really think about.
Let’s start this with an illustration. When you open your email app and peruse the cascading list of incoming mails, what’s the first thing that catches your eye? Chances are it’s a sender address that is recognizable. This is where we start with productive, successful marketing.
A “sent from” name can be an automatic invitation to the trash bin. Consider this one:
It goes without saying that an email with this sender name isn’t exactly inviting. And truthfully, it’s more likely to come from a larger company with a robust list of email accounts linked to their domains. Even then, with the glut of spam out there, it’s not likely to be read.
Do you have a single email account linked to your domain name, with your actual name as the prefix? That’s not a winning strategy. Add a few more. Even dedicated customers may not react to an email coming from a name they don’t recognize.
What’s hot and what’s not? That never-ending question drives buying decisions of vendors everywhere, including ecommerce players eager to cash in on upcoming trends. With a new year kicking in, we’ve centered in on an extravaganza sure to fill your mind with a dizzying array of considerations: the Las Vegas Market Winter 2020 event.
Scheduled for January 26-30, 2020, this annual marquee fiesta offers a glimpse into the hottest, best-selling, and promising product lines in home goods. A special presentation by Las Vegas Design Center, it draws attention to LVDC, the Southwest’s premiere home furnishings and design resource. Las Vegas’ state-of-the-art campus of the World Market Center will host, bringing buyers and shoppers to more than 30 designer showrooms with more than 4,300 brands and lines and 500 unique temporary exhibitors just minutes from the infamous Las Vegas Strip.
Assisting your difficult perusal through product lines will be experts in home fashioning and design offering top-notch tutoring in trends, methods, business advice, and everything related to interior décor.
Discover the best of the West with exhibitors eager to show off their wares in a tempting venue where you can develop merchandising plans, solicit tips on price and quality, and just explore through a vast wilderness of home products.
As another year slips by, marking the end of a decade, it’s time to wax nostalgic about the evolution we witnessed in the ‘10s, and prepare for an even more energizing landscape for ecommerce in the ‘20s.
These aren’t the Roaring Twenties romanticized in history books and pop culture, but rather a digital form geared toward harnessing the avalanche of opportunity available through Internet channels. It’s not likely that anyone in the Flapper days foresaw social media – although they would have loved it – but embracing the festive, carefree demeanor of that era is not a bad way to approach your business pursuits as we say goodbye to yet another year and decade.
So what trend-setting developments are we likely to see come January? What ingenious tactics and offerings will pose tempting ways of boosting your business?
Let’s start with customer engagement. If your patrons love you, put them to good use by involving them in social media campaigns. Hashtags go a long way on Twitter and Instagram, so why not come up with a catchy phrase involving a product you sell or your business name, and let it fly?
#AtlanticTradersHolidaySale – that hashtag generates a discussion of your personal shopping space. Sound fun? Try it!
If you’re not up to speed on how to execute hashtag campaigns or even use them effectively, GoDaddy has a great tutorial.
Another way to work customers’ and potential customers’ personal lives into your web is to entice them with personal touches. Social media “customer care” demonstrates your interest in serving them in a way that matters. Put simply, it’s not sufficient to set up Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and Instagram accounts. Reaching out to customers and being responsive to their input will get you places. Be sure to monitor and respond to ALL comments made to your Facebook posts. If someone has a complaint, apologize for their experience and offer to fix it. If someone gushes over your product or service, thank then back with equal enthusiasm.
It doesn’t take care of itself.
Approaching the second decade of the 21st Century, it may feel redundant to refer to “online marketing.” The bulk of commerce arguably has moved toward Internet transactions and advertising for some time, and it’s becoming rare to think of marketing as shaping up anywhere but in cyberspace. That makes it all the more urgent to tailor functions for the virtual platform; to consider the web your home space for growing a business.
Consider sectors once thought to be averse to Internet that have formed a presence online. Insurance used to observe stealth, cautious marketing and underwriting activities anywhere but in an agent’s office – or, in the early part of this century, over the phone. Now it’s possible to shop, ponder, and instantly bind coverage from an iPad.
Shopped for groceries lately? Increasingly, that’s taking place through online orders managed by third-party sites, as is food delivery. Booking travel, flagging down ride shares, and even applying for college is becoming a fully virtual experience. This has one lesson for ecommerce vendors: your business is an online entity, and must be treated accordingly.
Following are resources for fine-tuning your marketing and sales functions on the internet. Consider each carefully, assessing its value to your business in terms of affordability, comprehensive features, and ease of use.
Maybe the last thing you envisioned spending a ton of time on when you decided to become an ecommerce seller was marketing. Sure, you recognize the word. You understand there is a basic need to connect with potential buyers. But is it really necessary to dedicate so much of your precious time and energy on an intangible?
In a word, yes.
In the absence of a physical presence that people drive by on the regular, your cyber business is virtually invisible. This is not a comforting thought, and it should wake you up to the pressing need to expand outreach. Marketing your e-business can become less painful—and, dare way say, even enjoyable—with the right attitude, the right goal, and the right strategy.
Storefront businesses endure Chamber of Commerce socials and mixers, talking up their offerings. Think of digital marketing as an expansion of those with a bigger payout. Direct outreach to consumers is mostly free when it’s conducted online. All you need to do is arm yourself with the best practices.
Here are some tried-and-true tips to employing ecommerce marketing in a way that offers a good return on investment:
When it comes to promoting your business, email continues to be one of the most important ways to reach customers and increase sales. Although it may seem that social media is catching up quickly, the numbers show that email marketing continues to be more effective for businesses to communicate with their customers.
A recent survey found that only 41 percent of people, and only 30 percent of Americans, trust social media. Four in ten people have deleted a social media account in the past year. Conversely, email use continues to grow, with a whopping 3.8 email users in 2018. That number is set to grow to 4.4 billion by 2023.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why your email list is still the most effective way to reach customers in 2019.
It’s Cost Effective
The average business owner reported a return on investment of $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing in 2019. That’s up from $38 for every $1 spent in 2018. If you focus on fine-tuning your message and determining what’s most effective for your audience, that number could increase exponentially.
It Requires Permission
Unlike Facebook, where people are bombarded with ads from companies they’ve never heard of, people who choose to receive your emails do so willingly. They’ve already expressed an interest in what your business has to offer. Requiring a double opt-in, or adding an extra step for customers to receive your emails, narrows it down even further. Research has shown that requiring a double opt-in can increase ROI by an average of 13%.