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The Covid 19 crisis has deeply affected every aspect of our life. But while we strive to stay indoors and remain healthy, it is also important to run your business and get on with work-life. The crisis will not let up soon. Until the virus is contained, life and business/work might suffer. Even though some areas of the world have been cleared or declared free from the virus, there is no guarantee that it will not strike again. So in a situation what’s the best you can do through your business?

Convenience to customers - that is probably the main keyword that rings enormously true when you are in the e-commerce business. Now that people are forced to stay indoors, the concept of buying has undergone a shift that’s brought success to companies like Walmart, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and other e-commerce websites. Over the last few months, we have seen a real spike in the orders placed through these online portals. 

But that’s because they have followed the changes and noticed the trends caused by the novel coronavirus. They watched the market, studied customer behavior, and shifted to accommodate user interest and need. An important change in customer behavior is that, rather than going out for purchases, people now prefer to buy online and get stuff delivered to their homes. 

As the practice of social distancing will be emphasized strongly until the virus is contained, people will prefer to stay away from supermarkets and malls, even for buying essential goods, so you can guess the urgency that’s been induced in the field of online shopping.

This means you must have an e-commerce platform up and running at full throttle. You can also hire a reliable offshore provider to build the necessary tools and plugins required to improve your e-commerce platform. 

Global Digital Revenue Growth

Image Credit: Salesforce

With Covid 19, there has been a surge in the demand for products, and companies have been grappling with the impact caused by this unprecedented human tragedy. So, several things have been happening in the world of information technology and some of them are bad too. As many as 12 high-profile tech conferences were canceled, including Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, Google’s annual I/O developers, and Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit.

In this article, we will examine the main e-commerce trends that will help you stay at the top of the game through your e-commerce portal, amidst the world crisis.

1. Heightened cybersecurity to protect user information while making online purchases 

With more and more people seeking online platforms to buy products, global online cybersecurity is the critical need of the hour rather than a trend. When we talk about hacking user information, it does not just mean the customer’s confidential, vital information. It means that the information relating to the global workforce must be protected as well because they could be targeted with phishing emails and malicious software.  

During the Covid situation, as companies are moving their entire workforce online, they are also beginning to adopt strategic measures to promote business continuity. Over 400 people attended the webinar session conducted by UNIDO and the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), wherein the value of cybersecurity and privacy in e-commerce and digital space was discussed.  

This topic is of particular interest because, at a time of crisis like Covid 19, possibilities of cybercrime and data theft must be curbed more than ever. E-Commerce companies are literally scrambling to up their security measures as they need to protect their customers and their workforce.  

Hiring a reliable offshore provider would be the perfect answer to this situation. If you are not using the most updated security measures to protect your customers, you may lose out on a chunk of good customers. If people were worried about entering their confidential information online in the past, chances are they would be even more panic-driven now. Companies need top-class software that cannot be hacked. You would need a skilled and talented IT team to assess security features and improve firewalls, antivirus protection, and other features.  

2. Streamline your returns to pay dividends  

It is important to streamline the returns process, more than ever. As more and more customers are moving online to buy things, they need to be assured that making a return back to the sender is not filled with hassles. Customers wouldn’t like it at all if they have to return something they purchased. They detest buying a box, packing the item to be returned, getting shipping labels, driving to a drop-off location, and then mailing the package back.  

Retailers are also finding the returns a tedious process. So, how do they make the entire process enjoyable for their customers? By streamlining the returns process, retailers can boost customer loyalty and ensure long-term retention. Sure they need to make an investment (there are third-party service providers that undertake these tasks) for improving their returns processes, but it definitely is worth it. Make the returns process convenient for customers; they would definitely appreciate that. 

3. Incorporate advanced digital tools to handle the demand amid supply chain disruptions 

Experts consider Covid 19 to be the black swan that forced many businesses to think seriously about their business process, to work, change and transform their global supply chain model. This means they have to develop and implement supply chain risk management strategies to salvage what’s best to enjoy business continuity and yet, remain unscathed. When this is done, companies become better equipped to deal with the crisis.  

Companies have to build strong, long-lasting relationships with their key suppliers and vendors, ensuring transparency and visibility across the extended supply networks. They have to understand the risks involved and focus on their priorities while taking specific, driven actions.  

Some companies find it very difficult to trace their supply chain beyond their Tier 1 suppliers, and it is only with the help of advanced digital solutions that they would be able to trace their supply networks successfully across all the tiers. It is important to understand the full level of risks involved in the supply-side, make inventories in advance to manage the disruptions (especially when shutdowns of warehouses are happening across the world), and reduce the risks when the supply chains span various geographical locations. 

4. Remind your customers that you are online 

Now’s the best time to remind your customers that you are online, and they can buy from you. While focussing on establishing a presence on social media channels, it is important to do responsible marketing. All over the world, people are afraid of spending and they harbor the fear that they will lose their jobs. They are concerned about their future and their finances, and even though you now have access to a bigger community to sell to, you are facing another bigger challenge - convincing customers to connect and buy from you.  

Big commerce giants like Amazon are now focussing on delivering only essential supplies, healthcare products, cleaning supplies, baby products, and groceries, and they have cut down their ads on other products. They have also introduced a different online marketing strategy to combat the situation. If you are looking to introduce effective online marketing strategies that inform customers about your products, you can try the following formats: 

  • Build an email list
  • Boost website traffic through link building and blogging
  • Promote webinars and podcasts
  • Build a health community on social media (people are constantly monitoring the coronavirus situation on their social media channels)
  • Make sure the business has a Google My Business page 

5. Add-on services and personalization tools are getting more noticed these days 

When an e-commerce site has thousands of products, it would be difficult for a customer to search for what he wants. And as more people have begun using online platforms to buy during the past few months, and will continue to do so for few more months, it would be a good idea to have add-on services and personalization tools to help them with the purchases. Account-based pricing and user-based recommendations are helpful for customers.  

This can also help you display the right products, and make purchasing an easier, better process that leads to long term customer relationships. And once a customer purchases a particular product, suggestions for an add-on product can be sent to them, leading to more purchases. Customers like to be helped around when they shop online, especially when there are so many options, so a little bit of intelligent personalization will go a long way in ensuring their loyalty. 

6. Safety measures for employees and customers after Covid 19 

It is important to take measures that ensure the safety of your operations, and explaining these measures to your customers would be a good idea. If they know how you are handling the products and shipping them, they would most likely buy from you. They will be relieved to know that your staff wear gloves and masks, use disinfectants and heat maps, follow proper hygiene, and other methods of protection while packaging and shipping. You can also give them an inside view of how many staff are there in your warehouse at a particular period of time, the precautions they take while working, their duty hours, and so on to reassure them about their order fulfillment.  

7. Subscription services 

If a customer likes a particular product, they find it convenient to purchase it on a subscription basis, rather than having to do it manually. The subscription pattern would be dependent on the e-commerce website and the product. Along with revenue subscription models, you can also add more features like same-day shipping, music, video, etc. without increasing the price. This way customers feel that they get more value for the same price. When they join the subscription model, chances are very low that they would leave it, so when they become your customer, you are likely to have them forever.  

The perfect example of this would be Amazon Prime membership. Being a Prime member gives you access to free delivery. Free movies, free music, and a whole lot more from Amazon. It is true that getting a user to commit to a recurring payment subscription model is a barrier, but once you cross it, it’s good.  

8. Artificial intelligence and automation 

AI and automation have proved their competence in the field of e-commerce. Now, during the crisis, it is pertinent to know whether we can build a resilient economy with them. The answer is a big positive yes. Even warehouses that required manual picking of stocks, no longer mandate that anymore, because robotic hands and algorithms (to distinguish objects better) have proved to be dexterous enough to solve that issue. It is true that only big e-commerce giants will be able to leverage the monumental benefits of both AI and automation, but once startups and midsized companies begin to pick up on them, you can expect a huge shift in the way business is done.  

Consumers definitely prefer automated services when compared to human interaction, and this is growing strongly everywhere in the world. Automated systems are going to become the order of the day. Evidence of this trend has already been clear pre-Covid, and this just took on a stronger note now, and will most certainly continue in the future too.  

AI can also handle anticipated spikes in sales and will not be jarred with lengthy supply chains, as it can detect signals from disruptions and recognize emerging trends even before they take definitive form. AI helps the retailer provide products, change product sizes, and aid with merchandising and packaging by observing these emerging trends. Early retailers to absorb this trend is, of course, Amazon, as they leverage data to make on-point recommendations.  

Conclusion 

When brands go online and build an e-commerce platform, they need to know and understand their customers to sell more effectively to them. However, during Covid and post the crisis, they would have to sift through bucketloads of data to make sense of the patterns. Thankfully, following the above trends, especially AI and automation, can help you focus on that. You can use technology to do all the hard work of segmenting potential leads, existing customers, returning customers, assessing the value of customers, and helping you plan targeted campaigns for all of them.  

Make the best of the opportunities you have and sell your products by partnering with a good offshore service provider that will help you get the tools ready to communicate with your leads and customers in a successful manner. Get in touch with Cabot Technology Solutions to know how this can be done for you.

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