What can your E-commerce do during the COVID-19 outbreak?

E-commerce during COVID-19

Before everything else, these are the questions you should be asking yourself on a daily basis if you own E-commerce:

  1. Are people still coming to your website?
  2. Are they still converting?
  3. Are they buying?
  4. Are they picking up the delivery?

These are challenging times in-front of us. A lot of countries have declared a quarantine status on customer-facing businesses. Businesses are forced to close their stores and cancel service and implement remote work, if possible. 

Out of all business, the E-commerce branch looks like it will have the least damage. In fact, most experts agree that it might have a positive impact. 
We’ve seen something similar with pandemic outbreaks before. In 2004, when SARS broke out in China it fueled the growth of e-commerce. We can expect similarity with COVID-19, where traditional physical stores will shift to online stores. 

When the deadly SARS outbreak hit China then, it helped accelerate the development of the e-commerce industry in the country. SARS forced JD.com to start selling its products online in 2004 and now it is the largest online retailer in China (source)

Unless you’re selling protective masks or food – here is what you can do to stay relevant and optimally adapt to the market. 

Tell your customers that your store is operating normally

Post it on social media, send a newsletter, maybe think about a pop-up message or a top-bar message visible on all pages. 

Here are some great examples from Scotch & Soda

and Aldo Shoes:

Adapt the delivery system according to your country’s decree on delivery trucks.

Also – it’s important to communicate about your COVID-19 preventions IN YOUR CHECKOUT. People get scared of finishing the purchase even without the pandemic outbreak but in this case questions like: 

  • How do they handle shipment?
  • Do they use hand sanitizers and masks?
  • Where are they getting the products from – do they inspect their suppliers?
  • How do I handle cash payments if I want to stay away from the delivery guy?

etc. There is no such thing as over-communicating this. Of-course be responsible – check out below how.

Secure your employees

It’s crucial that you put yourself in the position of the virus appearing within your business. Who is going to work if everyone gets sick?
For some, like warehouse & shipping employees it’s tough – but you can do a lot to prevent any sort of outbreak.

Establish internal rules, like: 

  • inform your employees about the virus and safety measures
  • implement hand sanitizers in their work environment
  • if they have any symptoms – they need to stay at home. Trust me, you’d rather be late on delivery than get the rest of your team sick
  • Make sure they are responsible while packaging the stuff
  1. Go remote if possible

Get the rest of them to work remotely. It’s tough at the beginning, but be disciplined about these 3 things and you’ll be fine: 
a) start the day with a morning team call b) have daily goals clearly written so everyone can see them all the time c) Overcommunicate. Be transparent, talk about blockers, specify problems and priorities.

Support, support, support

There are millions of questions that people have today. We had a lot of challenges optimizing checkouts, before we had to stay locked in our homes. There will be a lot of calls, emails, Facebook messages from customers regarding their issues and fears. 

  • Be proactive – call people when there are issues with orders, delivery times etc. 
  • Before delivery send an SMS with delivery protocol.
  • Set up automation flows, where after purchases you explain the whole situation.

Here is a great guide on how you can communicate with empathy during these tough times.

Communicate transparently on your stock

Everyone is having issues with their suppliers right now. But somehow this is not the buyers problem.

Again, overcommunicating can help: 

a) Make sure people can sign up for alerts on when the product is back on stock.

b) If you’re letting people buy the product that is out of stock, call them immediately. Explain the situation. Offer them a 10% discount if they’re going to wait for a longer time. 

People understand the scope of this situation and they will understand if they have to wait. What they will not understand is if something is promised to be delivered in 24 hours and then gets delivered a week later without any notice. 

Go for prepaid purchases

It depends on the country, but some logistic partners have already blocked payments on delivery. It is extremely likely it’s going to happen in your country soon as everyone is trying to protect their employees to have as less contact with customers as possible.

Here is how you can prepare for that:

a) Allow people to buy the product with payment on delivery, but don’t process it yet. Use the support team to call these customers, explain the situation and hand-guide them through an online payment. Obviously, if you have the resources to do this.

b) Block the Cash on Delivery option and set up a pop-up explaining why. 

c) Use the abandoned cart email to explain why COD is not available

d) Optimize the UI design to make the prepaid option more prominent

e) Enable the option a prepaid payment – transaction to your bank account.

Do NOT use this as an opportunity to take advantage of customers

Cheap shots will get backfired. These are some tough times for everyone and the last thing you want to do is take advantage of the people in need. Don’t raise prices and then offer discounts. Don’t do COVID-19 SALE campaigns etc. It’s going to make your e-commerce look small-minded and it might attract some type of customers – but think about everything that they won’t.  

If you need help with your business these days, reach out to us here.

Article written with the help of: 



Growth Hacking Slovenia & Ziga Krampersek

Featured photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash