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Ecommerce Post COVID-19 and How to Strategize your Marketing During Tough Times

by Pedro Franca
8 minutes
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Learn how the virus outbreak completely changed the way people shop, and how to market your ecommerce post COVID-19

We are currently in the third month of global lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the beginning, we weren’t allowed to leave the house; traditional businesses ceased operations; schools were shut down; and companies that could afford to, had employees work from home.

Consumers were panic shopping because, in times of uncertainty, it is intuitive to over-prepare for survival. Then, there arose new needs to adjust to the unique circumstances we’re presented with, like remote work and homeschooling.

There has also been high anxiety among the population, with the younger generations being the most concerned about the future impacts of the pandemic (a reasonable concern as it’s their future on the line.

Now, although very little has changed since the pandemic, most schools and businesses around the world are still on lockdown. People always worry about the future. Consumer buying behavior has gone through constant change, and it’s again changing, such that many marketers are unable to predict what the future holds and what strategies to adapt.

People are changing what they are buying, when, and how, and it’s in understanding and being up to date with the trends in consumer behavior that businesses, especially those in Ecommerce, can draw up plans that will be beneficial to their goals in the long-run.

The purpose of this article is to explain the pattern of changes that have affected the Ecommerce industry and how you can make the best decisions for your brand at this time.

How Ecommerce Became a Necessity in this Climate

To reduce human contact and the risks of new infections, and as a result of the stay-at-home orders, online shopping became very important in meeting the needs of consumers. Ecommerce became more of a necessity for survival than a luxury for convenience.

There has been tremendous growth in Ecommerce since the pandemic; however, the growth wasn’t across all boards. Some industry categories have suffered losses in Ecommerce revenue as a result of the pandemic.

This growth or lack of it, depending on the industry, could be attributed to where the need fulfilled by such industry falls on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ pyramid. This theory states that all human needs fall into different categories according to their necessity. Until the most basic are satisfied, man would lack the motivation to meet other needs.

At the beginning of the pandemic, consumers prioritized physiological, and safety needs over all others. Industries that provided these essential needs saw considerable growth in Ecommerce revenue, and those that didn’t provide for these needs suffered a loss of sales. And while these crucial needs are still top priorities, with people adjusting to the new realities of human existence, people are now attending to or planning to satisfy non-essential needs.

An Analysis of the Ecommerce Industry since the Pandemic

The Essentials

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 and the lockdown orders, the Ecommerce Food and Beverage industry has experienced growth by up to 100%; and it maintained a steady growth level ever since. This industry remains a crucial part of our existence, and a higher percentage of consumers are very particular about purchasing from trusted brand name products in this industry than any other.

Source: Klaviyo

The need for some new essentials arose to cope with the effects of COVID-19.

The most important of these is the health essentials – the sales of face masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning products, and other medical and hygiene supplies soared as a result of the pandemic. And the industry is still experiencing high sales, which may last until the end of the pandemic.

There has been an increase in sales in the education industry as students are now taking lessons online and homeschooled by parents. With companies working remotely, there has been an increase in the sales of office supplies and electronics. The electronics, fitness, and entertainment industries have all experienced an increase in sales as people spend more time online due to the lockdown and are using products from these industries to cope with the anxiety and boredom of the lockdown.

The Non-essentials

Although other industries suffered losses at the beginning of the pandemic, as time passes, many are now experiencing better sales records.

For example, the apparel and accessories industry experienced a drop in sales at the beginning of the pandemic. Still, it has picked up, seeing a more significant increase in sales since April. Interestingly, it is still getting more sales with order value up to 45 million in May, up from order value that was below 20 million back in mid-March. The jewelry industry also has recorded an increase of 50% in sales; this may primarily be because of a mother’s day celebration but a win.

Consumers are looking forward to buying apparel, beauty, and cosmetics supplies when the lockdown is over and are already doing that since we’ve had more time to adjust to the new realities of life in this pandemic.

Ecommerce Post COVID-19

The Ecommerce industry has been of tremendous help in maintaining the safety and adequate provisions for the needs of the populace in this trying time.

Ecommerce sales have grown 10x faster daily since March 15th, and the growth is expected to continue. Consumers are also taking the time to find and explore various news stores – 65% of people in a survey said they were going to buy mother’s day presents from new online stores. This is a perfect time for new businesses to put their best foot forward. Ecommerce sales now make up 30% of all retail spending in the U.S.

With this high level of growth in Ecommerce, it may be more cautious than pessimistic about wondering if it would not crash before or after the pandemic is over. However, in a survey conducted by Klaviyo, Ecommerce businesses, including those who have recorded a decrease in sales, are confident that sales will remain the same or will be higher after COVID-19.

In a report by GlobalWebIndex, 40% of people intend to buy more online after the pandemic; and 32% will visit stores less frequently. Only 9% plan to go back to stores immediately after the lockdown.

It may not be far-fetched to assume that with the spike in Ecommerce sales across various categories on April 15th (Stimulus Day in the U.S.) and the higher sales recorded on May 1st. Consumers are willing to spend on commodities that interest them online under more normal circumstances – better job security, a greater sense of security and safety.

So far, Ecommerce sales in May are up 11% over April, though not as much as April had over March – April recorded average daily sales of 50% over March. I believe that in a little while, and as things continue to stabilize, we’ll be able to ascertain a consistent growth rate for Ecommerce.

While Ecommerce has the potential for growth even after the pandemic, only the businesses that continue to monitor consumer behavior and tailor their business strategies based on this will share in the glory and success.

For example, a surprising new data is that the biggest shopping days have shifted from weekends to the start of the week, since March 15th. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays have recorded higher sales than Saturdays and Sundays. This may be because everyone is at home – students attend school from home; workers work from home. There is no clear boundary between “work-time” and “me-time.”

Only businesses that are monitoring will be aware of this. And they would do well to send their marketing messages to coincide with when their target is intending to shop.

Tactics Ecommerce Businesses Can Adapt to their Marketing Strategy

Strategic Digital Advertising

As of Monday, May 11th, Common Thread Collective reports that Ecommerce revenue is up by 87.10% since the outbreak; ROAS increased by 27.38%, while CPM and CPC decreased by 18.27% and 20.34% respectively.

Companies have cut down on marketing because of the virus, and online ads can be run at cheaper rates since there is lower competition; marketing done right at this time will see a higher return on ad spending.

Consumers aren’t only purchasing essentials; sales are picking up in other industries. Mother’s day just passed, and it’s graduation season – 86% of people will be buying graduation gifts, with 26% planning to spend more than usual on the gifts.

Consumers are trying to achieve the best level of normalcy in this period, so this includes going back to other habits like spending on non-essential commodities. It involves celebrating birthdays, graduations, Halloween, Christmas, new births, and other things in between.

It is essential not to stop marketing your business and to continue doing so. This may mean running fewer and more efficient campaigns. Maximize your ad campaigns by testing and measuring your efforts to retain organic visibility because consumers are searching and looking for alternatives.

Another thing you may implement in your marketing is offering flexible payment options or lower-cost versions of your products; the GlobalWebIndex reports that 80% and 71% of consumers respectively approve of these.

It would be an empathic approach to your marketing as many have lost their jobs or have had to take pay cuts as a result of the pandemic. It’s a way of your brand showing that you are in touch with reality since consumers can tell when a brand is being insensitive and only after their gain.

Revamp Your Ecommerce Experience

Does your website need a make-over? If you’re not sure, then it needs one, as soon as possible.

Klaviyo reports that website forms’ conversions have increased by an average rate of 3.45%. This is the best time to improve the layout and copy of the website, and include pop-up forms (we suggest using JustUno) with persuasive CTAs to gain as many leads as possible. GlobalWebIndex reports that 41% say a reliable website is more important to them than it was previously. So, it’s time to prepare your business website for more significant growth.

Engage More with Your Customers

Make communication more straightforward than ever to build trust and loyalty with your customer base.

Be where your customers are. Your customers are on social media; they have questions and need answers. Pay attention, be helpful, and ask them what they want to hear from you, the kind of content they would like.

In your communication, show how you are helping out to reduce the effects of COVID-19; this will show your consumers that you care for their well-being and not only for your business.

Survata reports that 40% say the trustworthiness of a brand influences their purchase behavior. Consumers want brands to provide advice and tips on how to relax during this pandemic. This will determine how you’ll be remembered when it’s all over.

Email Marketing

Since the pandemic, email open rates increased by 40%.

A solid email marketing strategy could serve your business in many ways. First, it’s a great way to share relevant quality content with your customer base; run promotional campaigns; engage your customers while they await the delivery of purchased packages, this is very important now as shipments of commodities are slower.

Revenue per email recipient is up by 39%, and email revenue is up to 400% year-on-year.  Email is a cost-effective channel for driving revenue, and you should be utilizing it. Also, update your email automation series to reflect the present climate.

Wrapping Up

Regardless of the changes in trends, it is almost sure that Ecommerce is here to stay. However, a one size fits all approach would not be beneficial to businesses because daily changes are recorded in Ecommerce consumer behavior.

The long-term success of your business would depend on making intelligent business decisions on your instincts and available data to achieve predictable outcomes. Moreover, have a more open and flexible approach, adjust your business strategy by following changes in consumer behavior.

Need Help Optimizing Your Ecommerce to Thrive Post COVID-19?

We help eCommerce businesses just like yours revolutionize their approach to digital marketing strategy. At Harpia, we understanding that relationship-building plays a considerable role in the value you can extract from each sales interaction. So don’t let another customer checkout without a clear path to come back on. Book a free consultation today.

Pedro Franca headshot

Pedro Franca

Pedro is the founder at Harpia, an ecommerce growth agency focused on scaling inspiring brands through email marketing and advertising. He helped over 50 brands sell $100+ million with the Harpia Method.

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