Let’s be honest, the world is changing.

With global COVID-19 cases numbering over 1 million, the novel Coronavirus is having a huge impact on people and businesses worldwide.

Now that countless countries are in quarantine or on lockdown, people are spending more time than ever on the internet. In fact, internet usage has increased by as much as 50%.

As a result, while people are spending more time than ever online, even ecommerce businesses are being affected. 

Ecommerce is Changing

At the moment, things are tough for a lot of business. They’re better if they’re already selling online, but even among ecommerce businesses, 36% of retailers believe that sales will be impacted negatively.

With challenges come opportunities.

From a long-term perspective, the way people shop online is changing, particularly those historically digital-resistant demographics are starting to shop online. After all, for people in the 60+ demographic, this can literally be an “adapt or die” situation.

Technology has an adoption and learning curve. Learning anything new takes time under normal circumstances, these are are not normal circumstances. Everyone is being forced to figure out how to shop online. How people shop is changing and—for ecommerce businesses, at least—it’s changing for the better.

Seizing the Moment

How do you take advantage of all that?

Well, if Amazon is any indicator, now is the ideal time to take things to the next level, between hiring 100,000 additional employees and heavily investing in non-essential and essential items—they’ve been aggressively working to take advantage of this retail situation.

Yes, Amazon is a different animal and thus the future will be different for your retail business. How it changes, however, will depend on how you handle the next few months.

Low Demand, High Supply

For some ecommerce companies, demand has largely disappeared. This is particularly true for businesses that are selling expensive, non-essential “want” products.

It may feel like you don’t have many options. You aren’t selling something people truly “need”, so with the future of the economy in doubt, it can be hard to get people to spend their money on something they only “want”.

But here’s the thing – “want” and “need” are pretty subjective!

In difficult times, people feel a “need” for relief. They need a break from all the stress, frustration and worry that they’re constantly feeling. They need to feel powerful, stable and safe.

With the right marketing approach, you can play to all of those needs—especially if you’re selling something that people really want.

Buying something you want just because you want it is something that makes people feel like life is under control. It makes the world feel normal again. Your customers want a reason to feel good about spending their money—you just have to give it to them.

For example, everyone knows that COVID-19 has hit the economy hard. By running a “help us stay in business” sale, you can simultaneously create a mild fear of missing out while also making people feel good about supporting a business in need. People will also feel more attached to a business that they helped save, so this tactic is a good way to build long-term brand loyalty, too.

Alternatively, you can make “wants” into “needs” by leaning into the concept of self-care. People are exhausted from staying home, worrying about the Coronavirus, and a million other things, so a “pamper yourself”- type campaign can be a great way to drive sales.

High Demand, Low Supply

On the other end of the spectrum, many businesses have plenty of demand…and not enough product to meet that demand. This can create some real challenges.

Depending on what you’re selling, though, there are some good ways to handle this high-demand, low-supply situation. You’re not the only business with product shortages, so it’s likely that your customers are frustratedly bouncing from site-to-site trying to find a way to get what they need.

To give them a hand, you may want to offer a backorder or delayed shipping option on your site. That way, people know they can at least get in line for the products they need.

You can also market this sort of backorder list directly, too. If your product is particularly hard to get, you can advertise a waiting list and get orders even before you have the product on hand.

If neither of these approaches are feasible for your business, now is a great time to get ahead. There might not be much you can do about your current situation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for the future.

Gearing Up for a Post-Corona World

The world of ecommerce is changing. Your customers are changing. That change isn’t going to go away!.

If you aren’t in either of the situations mentioned above, you’re in a great spot to ramp up your digital presence and marketing. Your audience is active online and, with many of your competitors unable to effectively advertise, it’s a great time to run ads.

Even if you’re lucky enough to be well-positioned to take advantage of this quarantine, though, now is the time to really dive into your business strategy.

Redesign and optimise your website. Optimise integrations and reassess inventory management systems. Leverage your CRM, call up your customers and revisit your buyer personas. Realign and optimise your inbound marketing strategy.

Conclusion

COVID-19 is forcing the world to change. Your customers are learning how to shop online. They’re discovering new options and ways to get what they need from the comfort and security of their homes.

As a result, ecommerce is evolving.

The question is, will your business evolve along with it? Or will you be left behind as your customers move on to other businesses who adapted to meet the changing needs of their market? The answer is up to you.