What can your e-tail business do now to prepare for Christmas 2020?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As crazy as it might seem in many ways to be even thinking about the end of the year, the fact remains that it tends to be just after Halloween onwards that customers turn their attentions to Christmas gift buying, running right up to Christmas Eve.

Retail phenomena like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have helped to turned the festive shopping season into something more than a frenzied couple of weeks’ buying immediately before Christmas.

However, it also seems unlikely that the COVID-19 pandemic will have become a mere bad memory by the time customers start their Christmas buying in 2020. So, how should the added complexity that the lingering virus brings affect your ecommerce firm’s festive preparations?

Navigating the persistent uncertainty around the pandemic

One of the problems with this subject, of course, is that no one truly knows what course the coronavirus outbreak will take in the UK and any other territories that your store might serve, even a month from now – never mind in another five or six months.

While monthly estimates have shown, for instance, that UK GDP fell by a frankly frightening 20.4% in April 2020, it is far from certain whether there will be a slow, fast or medium-paced economic recovery – or indeed, any immediate recovery.

This will also inevitably be influenced by such factors as the longer-term jobless figures and how much cash shoppers have in their pockets to spend as sources of support like the UK’s employee furlough scheme are gradually wound down.

Another statistic that you are likely to have noticed as an ecommerce store owner – at least in terms of the level of demand you have experienced from your own customers – is the sharp recent jump in Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales in Great Britain. While this was 18.9% as recently as February, the ratio had vaulted to 32.8% by May.

Again, though, what is the long-term trend likely to be here, as more and more brick-and-mortar stores – even for ‘inessential’ sectors – reopen? A fast recovery, slow recovery or no recovery are different scenarios that could drastically impact your planning here, before you even consider how comfortable shoppers are likely to be with returning to physical stores.

There are still some actions, though, that you can take

As frustrating as the current uncertainty is, as an online merchant, you don’t have to simply throw your hands up and give up until more information is known about, for example, the likelihood of a much-talked-about ‘second wave’ of the virus.

Instead, take such concrete actions now as contacting your suppliers to ensure inventory will be available for Christmas, pinpointing any potential inventory issues and placing orders early if possible.

Also look at what your arrangements will be for delivering this inventory to customers, while contemplating what delivery disruptions could occur in the event of a ‘second wave’ and another lockdown, perhaps based on your store’s experiences the first time around.

Don’t be afraid, too, to ask your site’s customers about their festive shopping plans. What would they like to see your store doing or offering when the Christmas season arrives?

Finally, it’s a good idea to review your store’s online presence and what your needs for it are likely to be in the coming months. Could now be the time to get in touch with website design, mobile app or SEO marketing professionals like ours here at Piranha Designs, so that you can be sure of your store being as ‘COVID-19 ready’ as it can be from the autumn or winter onwards?

Now’s the time to make the moves to place your online store in the best possible position for success throughout what could be a tricky winter period – simply get in touch with our experts today to learn more. 

5 ways to innovate with your ecommerce store (without risking it all)

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Let’s face it; most business owners would probably love to be known for experimentation and innovation. However, they don’t want to gamble their livelihood by doing something that might seem like ‘a good idea at a time’, only to turn out to be a reputation-damaging disaster.

And so it is the case with those who operate ecommerce stores. However, being innovative isn’t always about the hugely influential, game-changing success (like, say, the iPhone) or a crushing failure that is ridiculed forevermore (such as, perhaps, the Sinclair C5).

Indeed, it’s often much smaller and more subtle innovations that can prove the most important for online businesses in the long run. Innovation is, by its very nature, a risk – but you don’t necessarily have to gamble it all.

You might simply try one or more of the following...

Introduce a new product category

Is there a category you could add to your store that would naturally complement what you have to offer already – accessories for electrical equipment, for instance?

Or, of course, you may be a little bolder than that, by adding a category that isn’t quite what people would think of when they first hear your brand mentioned. Regardless, this can be a great way to experiment with the broadening of your store’s offering, boosting its appeal to existing customers at the same time as attracting new ones.

Try out alternative price points

Sometimes, you just don’t know what difference a different price for a given product will make to sales, unless you go ahead and make said change.

If the item in question is a very common product, for example, lower pricing might make sense. But you may be surprised by the extent to which making a relatively unique product more expensive actually helps to heighten its desirability among buyers, especially if it is your own in-house brand.

Provide services after the initial purchase

In 2020, couldn’t your store benefit from going beyond the standard purchase confirmation email? This might mean relatively small and ‘safe’ touches such as providing a money-off voucher code for the customer’s next order from you, or entering every shopper who reviews one of your products into a prize draw.

However, some stores might also consider providing a more comprehensive post-purchase support service to their most active customers, and perhaps personalised marketing emails instead of the generic messaging everyone else on the mailing list receives.

Launch a branded app for your store

This is a great example of relatively low-risk innovation, in that customers who prefer to shop the ‘old-fashioned way’, via your desktop site, will be able to continue doing so, while those who like the intuitiveness and convenience of an app have it as an option.

You do need to be sure of what your brand’s app will actually be for, however. Is it intended to be a shopping app, to boost customer loyalty, or even to provide a fulcrum for the creation of a community that will elevate your brand above being a mere online store?

Put together subscription packages

Online subscriptions have seemingly become all the rage in recent years, and with good reason. It’s been a while now since subscriptions were more-or-less just for magazines or consumable goods.

That’s because it’s even possible these days to subscribe to receive the likes of clothing, music and even pieces of art, with this business model helping many an online store to ‘lock in’ future orders from especially loyal shoppers.

All of the above steps can be considered ‘innovations’, without representing out-and-out risks to an ecommerce business’s future.

And don’t forget, too, that with the help of the right website design and SEO marketing expertise from professionals like ours here at Piranha Designs, you could be in an even better position to make an impact as an online merchant throughout 2020 and beyond.

How to foster trust among your online customers as coronavirus lockdowns loosen

Piranha Designs - Friday, June 05, 2020

There are welcoming signs of life beginning to return to some kind of ‘normal’ in the UK and across the world as the grim numbers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic gradually recede. But it’s not just brick-and-mortar businesses that need to prepare for a somewhat changed post-crisis landscape, as ecommerce stores will also have a lot to think about.

Indeed, the slowly brightening outlook means your store should probably be shifting its focus from its earlier lockdown ‘emergency’ measures to considerations of how you can cultivate longer-term loyalty from the customers you might have gained during this difficult period.

In order to do that, you’ll need to reassure them that your store is a trustworthy one, so that you can continue to attract their custom for months and years to come. Here are a few ways to accomplish exactly that.

Avoid any price hikes that you can’t explain or justify

Of course, not all retail businesses will have felt ‘on hold’ during the pandemic. The lockdown experience of a food or sanitary products seller, for example, is likely to have differed significantly from that of a high-end clothes label.

However, if you are in the fortunate position of stocking essential items, you should endeavour to maintain pricing of these at pre-pandemic levels. If price increases do need to happen, you should be careful to explain why, as even mere accusations of price gouging could hit your brand’s reputation.

Remove as much friction as possible from the checkout process

Many people will still be self-isolating, whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or are simply in a vulnerable demographic. These people will be especially reliant on online retail; for this reason, you won’t want to lumber them with an overlong and cumbersome checkout process.

These days, mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay can be built into online checkouts to enable shoppers to pay for their goods with a single tap or glance. This saves customers from having to register an account with the store in question, or even to manually type in their payment details, which will already be saved on their device.

Empathise with your audience

Difficulties related to the virus and the associated lockdown restrictions are clearly still widespread, which is why your customers might want particular reassurance that you will deliver them the items they need even as your own firm’s pressures start to bite.

Still, if your business isn’t serving high-end professionals, you should probably avoid using such phrases as “supply chain interruptions” or even – shudder – “unprecedented”. Instead, use simple, to-the-point terms like “we know times are confusing right now” or “our suppliers are working around the clock”.

If you aren’t a natural with written content, take heart that our SEO work includes the composition of blog posts that can keep your visitors updated on how your business is adjusting itself in the rapidly changing circumstances we’re all having to deal with right now.

Indeed, here at Piranha Designs, we possess wide-ranging website design and digital marketing expertise that could play an integral role in your ecommerce store’s efforts to thrive in the post-pandemic world. So why not contact us directly today to learn more?


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