The events so far of 2020 have been really unpredictable. It seems like even a psychic wouldn’t have been able to see what was coming. If you’re the owner of an online retail business, you may have been lucky with not needing to close up your store (if you don’t run any brick-and-mortar stores, that is), but you definitely may have had to make some ecommerce investments into adjusting your business strategy and offerings during this time. Like with restaurants having to move into to-go catering or to-go orders only, businesses always have to adapt to change. Skew your product offering to something more in demand, reposition your brand to align with a change in social belief.
We’re not able to tell you with a 100% accuracy how the retail scene will be like a year from now, but we’re able to take some wide, cautionary steps to adjust to what is currently in demand. Luckily being online, you are able to flex more with your operations, and if you’re in dropshipping, you have an upper hand in pivoting towards different items without being held up with unsold inventory.
Today, let’s take a look at what an online retail business owner should invest in during this time. From products to security and service, we’ll cover some bases and give you examples of the most beneficial ecommerce investments you can make.
Socially responsible ecommerce investments to consider in 2020
Focusing on essential items
As we know, global economies are down, and consumers are being more savvy about their expenditures. Luxury items and nice-to-haves are not at the top of the list for most people right now. Items pertaining to sanitization, personal protection equipment, and well-being are big sellers right now, according to Stackline. Some item categories include:
- Cleaning supplies
- Disposable gloves
- Cough and cold items
- Computer monitors and accessories
- Packaged food
- Weight training equipment
Although we can’t predict how consumer demand will shift in, say, six months later, it’s safe to assume that many people will continue to care about hygiene and self care as a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available.
If you are able to shift your website’s item focus or feel like completely changing your business to cater to one of these in-demand product categories, right now is probably the right time to make these ecommerce investments. You may have already heard of fashion design houses and breweries shifting their business to focus on using their materials to create face masks and disinfectants and sanitizer.
Remember: the great thing about utilizing dropshipping for ecommerce is that you can switch your product when you need to. Were you selling backpacks and gear for air travel but want to move over to electronic accessories for a safer long-term niche? Take some steps to shifting your business.
And if jumping niches is too much work, get in on our Premium Products service, where we send current in-demand products straight to your WordPress dashboard every week. It’s an easy and less-costly solution to help you bring relevant traffic to your website.
Grooming company Clark’s Botanicals gives away sanitizing spray.
Empathy goes a long way right now. If you have ways to give away essentials as a gesture of kindness, definitely include them with your orders. Whether it’s a roll of toilet paper or hand sanitizer (as shown with Clark’s Botanicals), an act of care for your customers can make a deep connection in a time where safety is of the utmost importance. Having a giving heart is one thing ecommerce business owners should invest in right now.
Sleepwear brand Magnolia Lounge gives away face masks with a minimum purchase amount.
We also see brands going to face-mask route, like Austrailian unisex PJ brand Magnolia Lounge giving away a ten-pack of face masks with every purchase over $99.
Adidas dedicates a page on its website to coronavirus.
Aside from garnering sales, another essential way to build a responsible and conscious brand today is to be socially aware. If there are organizations your brand can donate a percentage of every purchase to (or just a lump-sum amount to) for fighting COVID-19, that’s something you can consider.
You may not be a global multi-million-dollar brand like Adidas, but you can take cues from how the company dedicated to building awareness towards giving back to everyday people.
Adidas utilizes a fundraiser and purchase-and-donate item to raise money.
You can also invest in working with fundraising organizations to give back to people in need. Start by doing some research on sources such as Give.org or Charity Navigator.org for what suits your business, and get in touch with someone from the organization to set up your cause. We show here how Adidas launched a fundraising campaign and created masks that could sell and give a portion back to a global organization.
All-time-favorites: ecommerce investments that bring benefits in a long term
Informative (and cool) social media content creation
Crafting-goods store JOANN uploads a tutorial on mask-making at home.
Video has been the king of digital entertainment for over the past two decades now. Great, engaging video is essential for any brand’s social media efforts. But during a time where more and more people are turning to platforms such as YouTube to escape the everyday, there’s an opportunity to reach consumers with branded content that helps them stay safe, connected, and occupied during lockdowns.
We show here how American-based crafts store JOANN used a DIY face-mask tutorial to help people create their own personal protection during the coronavirus pandemic. The video is helpful to people of all ages and backgrounds, but is particularly great (coincidentally) for the chain store’s demographic of crafty creatives.
On Instagram, Universal Studios Hollywood announced a watch party to engage with fans.
Another example shows how Los Angeles-based theme park Universal Studios Hollywood organized a live watch party for one of its big-hit films, 2015’s “Jurassic World.”
The amusement park lit up its Twitter account with engaging content during the party.
By utilizing play-by-play reactions to scenes, cool GIFs, and polls to interact with fans of the epic dinosaur movie and fans of the theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood created a fun escape from the mundane everyday.
Wondering how online business owners should invest in social media content right now? Well, to create a high-quality video like JOANN or rich interactive content like Universal, you’ve got to spend money on a good camera and have a good team (or a solo social media maven) to produce this content. And money aside, time is also an investment into planning these types of cool bits. Furthermore, creativity is also an investment of yours, and it is important to come up with relevant content during this time.
Customer service improvement
U.K.-based retailer Tesco responds to a customer complaint.
It seems like a no-brainer, but during a time where online orders and to-go orders have surged a whopping 248% according to Digital Commerce 360, it’s more important than ever to emphasize good customer service. Whether you can afford to hire a customer service team or just have two people handling inquiries and issues, now is not the time to cut back on this line of service and work. Being responsive and helpful go a long way in earning customer trust and loyalty during a time where many people are still trying to make ends meet and just trying to get essentials (or non-essentials to stay sane) home.
We show above how England’s superstore chain Tesco handled a customer complaint on Twitter about a poor delivery experience and communicated clearly to resolve the issue.
A stable and secure server
Security badges are essential, like these on our AliDropship mainpage.
As online sales surge and traffic surge, you want to make sure the website server you have is in good shape. And in general, it’s smart to perform data and server/host checks regularly to maintain website health:
- Whether manually or by cloud, backing up your website daily is crucial to restore data and files in case of a crash. We recommend setting automatic backups once a day.
- Check your data capacity. If you’re experiencing slow load times or errors, your data could be running low if your website is very congested. You can optimize by reducing image size or for more data, by upgrading your data plan with your server.
- Maintain your website’s security by taking care of your security certificates. Letting these expire will not only leave customers on edge, but put your website at risk for hacking and third-party attacks.
- Update your plugins for optimal website performance. Platforms like WordPress have auto-updating of plugins, but it pays to be extra careful in case you are utilizing something that doesn’t automatically update.
If you have to pay more money for a more comprehensive or robust security package or server data, do so. These components are what make your website possible to run, so it’s wise to invest in these and not skimp.
SUMMARY: Even in the most uncertain of times, the basics of running an online business remain: make the experience enjoyable with good customer service, relevant products and solutions, and engaging content. You may have to skew your business product or rework your offerings, but it may be necessary to ensure enough profit. It’s also a good time to consider donating to relief organizations to build a responsible brand that will resonate with people. Focus your ecommerce investments on maintaining a great customer experience with added compassion and empathy for success that can withstand anything going on in the world.
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