Offline Online Ecommerce Coronavirus

Tips for brands navigating online and offline in the pandemic and beyond

In March 2020, our lives changed forever. The coronavirus hit some businesses and gave an unexpected boost to others.

Many businesses had to go online for the first time. Others had to change their delivery methods to keep up with demand.

So how did we, and how do we continue to navigate our way through some of the most challenging times in recent history?

Below are some basic strategies that we saw brands employ during this weird year to stay afloat.

1. Stay true to your brand

With the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic, it’s understandably tempting to rush to market with a new offering. It might even be something that your business wouldn’t have considered under normal circumstances.

Don’t rush! Take your time and consider the long-term effects on your brand identity. You don’t want to launch a questionable product or service that derails your efforts up until now and pushes people away.

Related: How to keep customers coming back in times of crisis

During the first lockdown we saw a lot of companies quickly adapt with new offerings – restaurants offering takeaways, conferences going virtual, gyms offering online classes. These have all been excellent ways to keep the businesses going whilst staying true to brand and enhancing the image that has already been built.

We also saw an increase in web and app development for booking classes, making purchases via contactless payment systems and even having zoom appointments with doctors and therapists.

It is imperative that the branding and message across these platforms remains consistent with the vision, mission and values in order to ensure the business remains a success in the future.

2. Make use of your network & stay connected

With Facebook and Instagram inevitably the go-to places for information and news, it is important to maximize on the audience/network you already have there.

It is important to let your audience know what you are doing during lockdowns and what anti-epidemic measures you have in place. This will reassure them that you’re safe to shop from. They also need regular updates on how to reach you with restrictions changing frequently.

Even if you have had to close for a period of time, don’t just stop posting – people should still see you as they scroll through their news feeds so they know when you’re opening back up and ready for business again.

Communicate any delays in deliveries due to disruptions in the supply chain. This will save you from unhappy customers.

Also, these quieter months are a great time to get in front of your audience while they spend even more time than usual on social media! Poll on new ideas, create hype for new products that you will launch when you can open again. Keep them involved in a conversation, a competition or even a prize draw to stay top-of-mind.

Use the time to connect with more trade contacts and discuss partnerships to support each other’s businesses moving forward.

3. Consider the ongoing reputation of the business

With revenue low, it can be appealing to “take the money” in whatever form now (even if that means selling packs of ingredients for your signature dishes). But for the long-term success and reputation of your business, you must consider your choices carefully.

Many large hotel chains, for example, have taken quarantine business to ensure the ongoing revenue for their company. This might be a lifeline in niches with inflexible cash flow. But it might backfire later when tourism resumes and travelers prefer not to stay in a quarantine hotel.

On the other hand, many big beauty companies quickly switched to producing sanitizer to give to hospitals, schools and so on. That’s gained them great goodwill from consumers. Many fashion companies added masks to their product range and pledged to donate some to first responders.

The point is, just make sure your choices now don’t affect how your customers perceive you further down the track.

4. Reinvent your business

This sounds harder than it is. It’s just adapting to the new reality and finding new and fresh ways to continue selling. It can be a new sales channel or a partnership – no idea is a bad idea until you test it.

Here are some examples of fresh approaches taken by ecommerce businesses during the pandemic:

  • Most fashion stores highlight their comfy/ lounge wear instead of trendy, dressy items
  • Food delivery services adopted curbside pickup
  • Bars started offering deconstructed cocktails that customers can easily mix at home
  • Beauty brands started pushing products that help “mask acne” and stay-at-home skincare routines
  • Many brands offloaded stock that plummeted in demand in the form of deals and VIP customer rewards

5. Don’t forget your team

Ecommerce is not beyond working from home. Of course, not every job can be done remotely but try to keep your employees as safe as possible. Sending your customer service and marketing guys home is a good start. Help them with tech setup and software tools they need to do their job properly.

Related: What tasks to delegate as an ecom founder

Another idea to steal from brands like UNTUCKit is to retrain your sales associates from physical stores to help customers on your website.

Untuckit

Then, put safety measures in place for the team that stays in the office and warehouse. This will pay off as they don’t get sick and the work gets done without delays. The last thing you want now is to send an apology email sayin g that you had a breakout of the virus among staff and orders will be delayed. That can scare people into canceling orders.

In conclusion

We don’t have all the answers or any certainty of the future. However, collectively we can use each other’s learnings to navigate our way through the pandemic and focus on what we hope will be a brighter tomorrow.

This article has been contributed by Lara Blake, Business Development and Marketing Manager for Media Shark, Australia. Media Shark specializes in App Design and Development.

 

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