As the speed of COVID-19 continues, families, friends, and businesses are experiencing the struggle at the utmost level. This disease is having a noticeable impact on everyday life, whether it’s shopping for necessities or socializing with friends and family.
There is a strain being felt on a global level, and those of us lucky enough to have a home to stay safe in and technology to connect are experiencing this in a wildly different way to those that are without housing, or who have lost their income overnight.
As such, there has been a massive shift in the amount of time spent online (in the countries where this is possible). And while physical brick and mortar businesses are forced to close and suffer dramatically from this pandemic, eCommerce is booming!
As the lockdown starts to become more normal and society begins to adapt, it only makes sense to see customer buying behaviour change in response. The obvious pattern would be panic buying, with sanitary products like disposable gloves increasing by 670% in March (2020 vs 2019) and supermarket shelves being completely emptied.
But we’re talking about after the panic has settled, and the key questions this raises. How are consumers responding, and why?
There are two simple explanations to understand consumer behaviour during COVID-19, which you can utilize to support your business through this crisis. By making sure that your marketing doesn’t exploit the uncertainty, and is sympathetic to users needs and situations, there’s no reason why actively marketing during this time cannot be successful.
If you haven’t been online or looked at your phone today, you are lying - you’re reading this article, right?
Although our physical world may have paused for the moment, the digital world is only accelerating faster and faster. New trends are emerging and even challenges to help our health services, like the ‘Run 5 Donate 5 Challenge’, are going viral.
If you manage to look through the smoke and rise above the negativity spread by the disease you will see communities pulling together to fight this crisis. It’s so important to stay positive during this time, remembering the luxuries that many of us have that we take for granted. This is a time that can be defined by compassion and understanding, which is reassuring.
From a business perspective, the added number of social media users who will be tirelessly scrolling through their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feed, for example, can serve as a mega advantage to your marketing.
Think of all the extra daily users that will see your ad and could convert into a sale!
Not only that, but cost-per-click (CPC) on platforms like Facebook have fallen dramatically to around $0.09 in March, saving you a bit of money and allowing businesses to be slightly more experimental with their marketing.
Being stuck indoors, with an opportunity to exercise once per day, can be demotivating for people who spend most of their time outside. And while people are safe (not stuck) at home, those hair extensions, those chocolate truffles, might just be what they need to ‘get through’ this pandemic.
Those that are able, are exerting their right to purchase, despite the risk of financial uncertainty in the aftermath of this lockdown. The people have spoken, and they want eCommerce!
Despite some sources suggesting the fall of the health and fitness industry, home workout videos and online exercise classes are extremely popular at the moment. In fact, one of our clients selling activewear has generated over £23,000 in sales and we’re only halfway through the month. This has already exceeded their March sales by over £8,000 - and the month isn’t over yet!
A factor that is increasing the number of online purchases is disposable income. Let’s say one of your customers is on furlough from their 9-5 job in central London. With thousands of people commuting every day from outside of London, and the average season ticket costing between £3,000 - £5,000 for an annual/season ticket, the likely hood is they are saving lots of money.
And certainly for those that aren’t self-employed, who remain on salary or who are working from home, parting with a few hundred on items that provide some sort of relief during this strange time isn’t a hard decision.
From all the evidence listed above, it’s clear that people don’t want to leave the house to buy essentials because of the danger, and most are bored at home, needing a source of motivation - that’s where your business comes in.
Just because the opportunity is there, it doesn’t mean customers will choose you or buy your products, but there are a few simple techniques to make you stand out from the crowd.
First, offer FREE home delivery to all your customers. As you may already know, customers who are about to checkout on your website suddenly abandon their cart because they have to pay £5+ for delivery. Supporting customers during this crisis in such a way will generate more sales and make customers buying decisions easier to make.
Second, there's no denying your marketing is outstanding and your products are being sold quicker than your competitors, but don’t sell out! Once your customer is set on buying your product, they will have tunnel vision and simply divert to your competitors if you can’t supply their demand.
Third, reward customers that are loyal to your business or spend a considerable amount on your products. We have deemed this technique a proven winner in evidence of our client in the hair and beauty industry.
One customer has made almost 150 orders and spent over £14K - once a customer falls in love with your business and their support is valued, buying your products becomes second nature.
Our COVID-19 Experience
As with the majority of businesses, we were sceptical about our client’s performance surrounding the coronavirus. Our client base is extremely diverse, catering to language schools, transport services, and beauty products, some of which rely on physical locations to carry out their services and some which are 100% eCommerce.
Understandably, clients with physical stores or services that are dependent on face to face customer interaction have felt the impact of the coronavirus, but remained positive and embraced online alternatives like video calls to cope through this time.
We have seen a client open up virtual classrooms to tackle the issue of not being able to run their language classes, and organisations moving face to face workshops into virtual meetings. This type of enterprising flexibility is positive, bringing more opportunity than simply shutting down.
As it stands with eCommerce, our clients have been experiencing record sales! From fitness to cooking spices, people are searching for products that will keep them engaged during the lockdown.
Over the Easter weekend, we proudly welcomed three new clients to join The Good Marketer team, despite the uncertainty in the current climate. And with ongoing talks and new opportunities presenting themselves, business is not slowing down here.
So there’s no reason for not trying a flexible approach to this situation, and brainstorming some ways that you can remain positive, open and providing value to your customers.
If there is one point you should take from this blog, it’s to embrace change through online solutions - it’s the best way to respond to this crisis!