Are we heading towards the first eCommerce-only Q4 ever?

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Are we heading towards the first eCommerce-only Q4 ever?

At Visualsoft, we’ve been keeping a close eye on how things have been progressing in the world of eCommerce, now that the shops are back open. We’re also hyper-aware of a potential second wave, and wanted to provide advice on how retailers could potentially prepare.

* YOY revenue growth by day since the start of lockdown 

Since the initial lockdown announcement, we have seen an average YOY increase of 61.59% - with the largest increase peaking at 199.36% (29th June), and the largest revenue generated on the 15th June (a 194.51% increase!). The results (which can be seen above) truly speak for themselves!

We are also honoured to have witnessed the incredible resilience of our eCommerce retailers, particularly following the return of the high street. After an initial decline in June, corresponding with the weekend after stores reopened (Friday through to Sunday), within a week of the reopening, we watched eCommerce revenue pick back up to the levels seen when stores were closed. These are particularly incredible results to report as retailers have been seeing bricks and mortar revenue pick back up since mid-June.

Revenue through eCommerce has remained strong, even while physical stores are open. This could be an indication of what to expect over the coming months. While many consumers are enjoying going back into physical stores, shoppers are also continuing to shop online frequently, in a bid to minimise the spread of the virus, and potentially also out of comfort and convenience.

Are we headed towards a second wave?

We are all aware of the possibility of a second wave, particularly as we move towards colder months where other Coronavirus strains spread more readily.

Professor Francois Balloux, a London-based epidemiologist, reported: “Influenza pandemics tend to come in three waves; a spring wave, followed by a severe winter wave and another spring wave”. While COVID-19 is not an influenza virus, it is droplet spread, and for this reason, Prof. Balloux is predicting a winter peak.

If this is indeed the case, we may see the tightening of lockdown measures to try and prevent a second spike. As retailers are headed towards the ‘golden quarter’, we wanted to touch upon how to best prepare for a potential eCommerce-only Q4…

Peak season preparation...

Think suppliers

According to the Business Continuity Institute, 73% of organisations have reported ‘some’ or ‘significant’ detrimental effects on their supply chain.

Over half (57.22%) will be looking to diversify their supplier base, as many are reliant on China (13.1%) and the Far East (29.9%).

If you are in the position to review and diversify your suppliers now, this could prove fruitful for the months to come, if indeed we are heading towards a second wave. The BCI also reported an expected shift towards sourcing goods more locally (66.2%), to minimise the impacts of any potential future global shutdowns

Prep your website

  • Delivery and returns: Communicate any expected changes to standard delivery methods or timeframes, at all points of the customer journey.

  • Couriers: If you are able to diversify your couriers, now is the time to do so. If indeed a second wave is headed our way, sending us into a second lockdown, couriers are likely to feel the impacts, so having a reliance on a number of couriers could help minimize any impacts on your delivery service, keeping customers happy as possible. If you find that your couriers are struggling to perform ‘business as usual’, update courier processing days on a per-courier basis and update your delivery pages with this information.

  • Add basket messages: If you are unable to fulfil orders in the way you would normally expect due to supplier or warehousing issues, the addition of basket messages are a great way to alert customers about any changes to the norm as this means that customers will be aware, before anyone proceeds to the purchase.

Get on top of your communications

  • Review scheduled ads:
    If there are any changes in the current situation, promptly review any scheduled messaging to ensure it is reflective of the current situation so that they remain sensitive and relevant.

  • Win with video and social media:
    In a time of social distancing, and potentially a second lockdown, utilising video and social media can keep lines of communication open. We have also seen a huge uptake in social media, so with more people online than ever before there more and more potential audiences to tap into.

  • Prepare your email comms:
    Ensure that subject lines are appropriate and that any generic or automated emails are reflective of current events. Additionally, review any product emails scheduled to make sure the products recommended are useful to customers or could help to add joy to their day.

  • Continue to inform:
    Keep your customers up to date by being a consistent source of information. Wherever appropriate, keep using your normal brand voice and inform your customers with industry information as usual.

  • Rely on partnerships:
    Relying on affiliate marketing can support you through uncertain times due to its CPA (cost per acquisition) payment model, this can help to stabilise your costs. Additionally, reliance on partners can be a great support as they are motivated to take the responsibility of sales generation, driven by the need to ‘earn’ their commission.

  • Increase reach with marketplaces:
    A number of shoppers will start their search on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. By using these additional channels, you are opening yourself up to new markets.

Curate memorable experiences

  • Consider consumer mindset in your promotions
    Investing time and budget into nurturing consumer mindset and supporting their emotional wellbeing will be critical for retailers. Utilise storytelling throughout your marketing messaging and reconsider the types of products you recommended to your consumers. Make sure recommendations are relevant and that you are hitting the ‘emotional checkpoints’ of the shopping journey.

  • Create customer confidence: Ensure that you are shouting about your great reviews. If you’re not, you are missing out on happy customers being the best form of brand advocates. Consumers don’t necessarily want to see perfection, but they want to see a demonstration of quality customer service and quick resolution times.

  • Mimic in-store experiences: If people are unable to get out to the stores, mimicking in-store experiences is the best way to reduce barriers to purchasing online. Product videos and 360 product images are no longer ‘nice to haves’, they’re vital. The addition of AR (augmented reality) services can also allow customers to virtually experience products from the comfort and safety of their own home.

  • Provide flexible payment options: In a time of uncertainty, consumers are more likely to keep their purse strings pulled tight. Offering flexible payment options is likely to entice more shoppers to purchase from your store - and keep coming back.

  • Keep them coming back: Subscription services for products that are likely to be needed on an ongoing basis offer an additional level of service to your customers. On top of this, it also helps businesses by securing a level of guaranteed revenue each month. According to data reported by Zuora, subscription businesses are proving to be resilient - 22.5% of companies are seeing subscription growth rate accelerate heavily, and a further 12.8% of people reported that while they are seeing slower growth, they are still seeing continual growth.

  • Gifting in a virtual world: In a time where we may be separated and unable to get out to the shop, eVouchers and custom gift vouchers are the perfect gifts, where people can use them online.

Want to find out more about how Visualsoft’s strategic team can help you?

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