The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has changed “business as usual,” particularly the world of eCommerce. With many consumers’ movement restricted to their home, companies that are new to eCommerce have become increasingly reliant on that channel, introducing several challenges that can negatively impact the customer experience. The rapid change in online shopping behaviors has fueled a global surge in online orders. This seems like a great opportunity, until supply chains are disrupted and complementary stores are closed. Suddenly, companies that have just ventured into the world of eCommerce are forced to handle not only the imperative for uptime amid the surge, but to fulfill customers’ orders and uphold their brand.
Rather than go it alone, these businesses can rapidly scale their digital presence using eCommerce as a Service. Delivered remotely via the cloud, this suite of services empowers companies to define priorities for their existing customers, digitize their channels, explore additional value-added functionality, expand their webstore’s reach to new markets, and maintain regular communication with customers.
Define Priorities for Existing Customers
All companies are familiar with personas, but this goes beyond simply building profiles. It begins by developing targeted offers for customers in affected regions, perhaps by considering additional discounts, special coupons or free deliveries. Next, the suite helps companies evaluate complex pricing or shipping rules to ensure they don’t appear to increase profit during the pandemic, which would negatively impact customer perception and could threaten future sales. eCommerce as a Service then enables analytics on in-time inventory, providing product recommendations or alternative suggestions if the requested products are not available. Finally, it ensures support for customer communities by offering free services such as setting aside stock that may be relevant for pandemic response teams.
Digitize the Channels
While physical channels have been impacted by COVID-19, it’s critical to ensure web-based channels are live and operational. If no webstore yet exists, this can mean quickly enabling the transition from brick-and-mortar to online interactions with an SaaS-based webstore and online catalog. Using eCommerce as a Service, companies can also enable online self-service and ordering functionality, and even help customers navigate the webstore and place orders with assistance from self-help widgets, training videos or guided navigation.
Explore Additional Value-Added Functionality
The “find, click, buy” model is fairly straightforward, but there are often opportunities to improve the speed and ease with which customers can check out. Enabling quick-order and bulk-order functionality can accelerate the process for some customers, yet additional capabilities such as order tracking and history, return management and online invoice payments can mean the difference between one-time and repeat customers.
Companies often begin their eCommerce journey with a focus on regions where they have a physical retail presence. With eCommerce as a Service, those same business leaders can switch their focus from operational details to reaching out to new customer bases, perhaps even launching new offerings comprised of products and services that cater to the current pandemic.
Maintain Regular Customer Communications
With customers scrambling to manage their own priorities in today’s environment, eCommerce as a Service can help companies ease customers’ minds by delivering proactive communications. These can include basic information about their order or any number of other relevant updates (shipment delays, stock replenishment, etc.). Such communications can be offered directly through the webstore or via collaborative message board, inspiring confidence that the situation and the customer’s order are under control.
The way commerce is conducted has changed, and companies are quickly facing a world in which eCommerce is a necessity. eCommerce as a Service can help the full spectrum of enterprises, with offerings ranging from webstore setup to advanced voice commerce, empowering any business to rapidly scale its digital presence and overcome sales disruptions.