We all have seen the times when online shopping wasn’t as big a market as it is now. Initially, we saw many small business owners slowly and almost hesitatingly paddling into the waters of web commerce. But now with the advent of technology along with an ever-adapting market space, it is evident how small businesses have realized the importance of shifting from offline to online business. They understand that while the benefits of shopping online for consumers are abundant, they are also plentiful for retailers.
This trend of small business entrepreneurs creating online storefronts is fueled by a comprehensive range of benefits like low operational cost, increased revenue, greater customer acquisition, 24×7 shopping comfort, easy transactions, and other conveniences working towards one single goal, i.e., conversions through the traffic. Hence, this shift has leveled up the playing field for all the businesses alike by making sure that the retailers are no longer circumscribed to the brick-and-mortar locations.
But for a successful e-commerce venture to thrive, creating an engaging online presence is fundamental. Ranging from branded websites and virtual marketplace storefronts to targeted social media ads and influencer marketing campaigns, all of these together enable small businesses to reach buyers in unique ways and provide shopping experiences they could only imagine. It has become more important now than ever, especially in the current global pandemic scenario, where mostly everyone is stuck at their homes and glued to their screens leading to drastic overnight changes in the consumer behavior
How is this shift in consumer behavior a boon for the retail businesses moving online?
The answer is simple, with social distancing measures in place, customers tend to meet all kinds of needs, such as groceries, cosmetics, clothes, and health & hygiene products, through the online channels, significantly giving visibility to even grassroots businesses and boosting their online sales by building brand loyalty. But this is only possible with a massive amount of customer engagement and working along the lines of the market demand and supply. The following are some practices for small businesses to keep in mind while making this big shift.
- Keep close contact with the customer base digitally
In the times, when in-person engagement is impossible, use the digital platforms to help you keep in close contact with your customer base through digital forms. You can either opt for social media marketing or direct-to-consumer email marketing. This helps customers in feeling the strength of their loyalty and engagement with the brand.
- Increase focus on online offers
In the cases where the sales and shipping are scarce, a small business entrepreneur can focus on expanding the breadth of online offers by providing the consumer with the option to purchase gift cards virtually. This can be beneficial for loyal customers who want to support the business even when it’s closed.
- Extraordinary customer experience is a must
Making sure that the customer experience is straightforward and enjoyable is extremely critical as it is the foundation stone for customer retention. Implying and improvising on strategies to map out an exceptional customer experience according to the changing market is something where all businesses should put their focus on to indulge their customers seamlessly.
- Using data to personalize the experience
With convenience driving the decision making, connecting with the consumers via purchase, browsing history, interests and location has become vital. This data helps in targeting product suggestions and promotional ideas, for personalized customer experience.
- Creating a digital footprint by tapping on social media
For the last five years, the advances in social media engagement via the retail sector have been abundant. Hence, customer engagement by creating a social media footprint should be the driving force for small ventures to foster further connections and loyalty with their customers. This can be done by not only answering customer queries and concerns but also by proactively providing business updates on their business’ current situation via social media and encouraging a positive social sentiment. Working on marketing strategies that are improvised and adapted to the current market scenario is also one of the ways to increase online traffic.
- Make a re-engagement plan
Apart from creating an online presence by increasing reach and building a new audience, it’s equally important for retail businesses to keep their current audience engaged. So that when the physical stores are back up and running, it will be crucial to re-engage people. This re-engagement plan will successfully help the retailers recover more quickly and rebuild their base of loyal customers.
The only way to survive these trying times is to adapt fast and be flexible to the changing needs. With the availability of multiple online, physical, and mobile channels, even the shoppers today are trying their best to adapt to the pandemic hit the market by mixing and matching outlets based on their needs. In this time, when everyone is socially distant in their own homes, having a chance to get an online purchase of a product is nothing less than a silver lining for most of the small businesses. Staying proactive and upping the game is the key to retain customers and is the only way to survive. So, adapt, evolve, and move forward.