The COVID-19 pandemic means many physical stores must launch e-commerce operations to keep profits coming in during widespread shutdowns. Keep these five tips in mind if you plan to bring your brick-and-mortar business online soon.
1. Offer a Live Chat Feature
The coronavirus means many people now buy products online that they once solely reserved for physical store purchases. A press release published by ACI Worldwide mentioned a 74% increase in e-commerce transaction volumes across most retail categories for this March compared to the same period a year ago. The researchers noticed that home products, furniture and electronics were particularly popular product groups.
This online shopping boom makes it crucial to be there for customers who may have questions about shipping speeds, accepted payment methods, and anything else necessary to know before placing an order. A live chat feature is an ideal solution because it offers immediate help. Be sure to tell shoppers when they can get assistance via live chat, and what methods of communication exist otherwise.
2. Show Customers Your Commitment to Security
If people get the impression that e-commerce security is not a priority, they’ll likely shop elsewhere. Start with the basics of website security, such as secure payment pages and customer login areas. You may even publish a dedicated page about how your company handles security. It might explain how your site has built-in malware scanners. Mention if employees helping with the transition to e-commerce engage with an access control system to restrict their information privileges.
Perhaps you had no plans to cater to customers online, but the coronavirus pandemic changed everything. You don’t want people to think you rushed to set up a website and did not consider how to enhance e-commerce security before launching it. Detail your efforts to create a safe shopping experience, and remove doubt from customers’ minds.
3. Consider Using Branded Packaging
Numerous things — from the price to displays and the product presentation — impact people’s in-store purchases. Consumers like knowing what to expect when doing business in a shop. The user-friendliness of your website is a major aspect because it affects overall perceptions, plus determines someone’s likelihood to return.
You can also positively shape someone’s experience by using branded packages. Some studies suggest up to 90% of people reuse packaging, and your decision to help shoppers do that could boost brand recognition.
Envision a scenario where your restaurant can’t accept in-person diners, but you set up a website where customers can order meals online for delivery. Giving people their food in a branded bag featuring your website address enables reuse, plus reminds them of your new venture.
4. Update in-Stock Quantities When Possible
People appreciate knowing the real-time in-stock product quantity of items. Showing it to them can also stimulate demand. For example, Etsy shows a person how many other site users also have the desired product in their baskets. If a shopper sees a product they want in high demand, they may hurry to purchase it to avoid ending up disappointed.
At Instacart, a grocery delivery service, the company’s shoppers that pick out a customer’s requested items play a vital role in monitoring stock. The brand utilizes machine learning with inventory data to predict the availability of 200 million items every half-hour.
It’s not feasible to expect you to implement something as high-tech on your first e-commerce site. However, any kind of messaging about stock levels sets expectations and increases convenience. Real-time quantities are best to show visitors, but you can also use broader phrases like “Low Availability,” “Selling Fast” or “Popular Item” to drive sales and encourage prompt action.
5. Implement a Guest Checkout Option
Allowing people to complete their purchases as guests increases the likelihood they’ll finish those transactions. Filling out a lengthy registration form could be enough to make some shoppers get frustrated and give up.
Plus, consider that some people likely came to your website solely because your brick-and-mortar business can’t operate normally right now. You want them to stick around, and not conclude they made a mistake by trying the new shopping format.
When building the guest checkout page, only ask for necessary information. It’s also wise to remind consumers of your e-commerce security practices to give them peace of mind.
For example, you could include text near the order submission button that says, “Your details are safe with us,” and provide a “learn more” link disclosing the specifics.
Find Success Online
A transition to e-commerce operations after only maintaining a physical store is not something to do without proper planning. Implementing these five tips boosts the chances that online business becomes a profitable venture and helps you recover from COVID-19 disruptions.
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Author Bio: Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and cybersecurity writer whose work has been featured on InformationWeek, Security Boulevard, Toolbox and IoT Times. To read more from Kayla, please visit her blog, Productivity Bytes.
Kayla is a guest blogger. All opinions are her own.