In the current pandemic, many businesses are struggling to find ways to earn a living. Meanwhile, consumers who are limited in their ability to go out and shop are turning to eCommerce businesses at an even faster rate than ever before. Sales might be going from local stores to giant corporations like Amazon, but small businesses should recognize that it doesn’t need to be this way. It is possible for them to function in the eCommerce world and provide a competitive alternative for consumer purchases. Being present for your customers in any form can build loyalty that will last far longer than the pandemic conditions will go on.
In order to build trust in this time, the first step is to demonstrate that you are taking the situation seriously and that you are working hard to meet customer needs. If orders may be delayed due to shipping overflows, be sure to communicate any changes in delivery times. Similarly, if your supplier costs or shipping expenses change due to market conditions, be transparent about the impact this has on your prices. If your eCommerce store sells protective equipment or cleaning supplies that shoppers depend on, make sure they are kept in stock and are highly visible on your store to give customers the sense that the store is doing all it can for them.
Customers want to be able to support their favorite businesses in a time of need. If your business operates as both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce, do your best to let local customers know that you are still out there providing the services they depend on. Large-scale eCommerce sites are used out of convenience and price, but if you can provide a comparable option, many will opt toward a business they have a personal relationship with.
Buying from someone they trust can make people feel more confident and willing to spend, since they will feel assured that they are supporting others in need with their business. In addition, smaller businesses can provide more responsive and helpful support if customers have any questions or problems, which is especially important in a time when customers are anxious about difficult purchasing decisions. Reliability can be more important than convenience to consumers if they have had past experiences where businesses have let them down and dismissed their concerns. 62% of customers believe quality of service is the most important trait of small business, higher than cost or convenience.
It can also help for customers to feel that you care about them and think about their needs. Keep your catalog active and rotating to keep customers coming back, and in addition, make use of coupons and rewards options to show your appreciation to them. If your eCommerce app has enabled push notifications, you can notify customers with the app installed of new deals and announcements. Loyalty points can be awarded for purchases as well as other actions like sharing the app on social media. Since loyalty points will build over time, users will be encouraged to maintain their spending habits for the long-term. Getting rewarded for supporting your business can form a personal connection that will last.
Once a business has stood with its patrons in a difficult time and developed a loyal customer base, it can expect to see not only measurable benefits but less visible effects. Loyal buyers are more likely to shop in higher volume and expand their interests into other departments, and they may also bring other customers along through word-of-mouth recommendations. This is one of the best forms of marketing because it comes organically through people the target market trusts already.
While business practices may change in the next year and onward, strong customer relations are crucial to support and build right now. Maintaining those relationships virtually can be difficult, but the rewards of a loyal customer base are more important than ever.