The current circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic may seem bleak, but this can also provide tremendous opportunities for companies to make positive changes to their business. One area most companies should consider exploring is ecommerce. If ecommerce is already part of your business, then you should consider doubling down on your investment.

This blog post will examine how pandemics like the Coronavirus can create opportunities for investment, and innovation, in ecommerce solutions. It also features commentary from our strategic partner Annex Cloud about how companies can build a more stable customer base through focusing on customer loyalty and retention.

Why Invest in Ecommerce Right Now?

For the next few weeks (at minimum), you have a captive audience that is mostly working from home or in self-isolation, and all shopping – personal and business – is done almost exclusively online. Additionally, this ongoing situation will likely result in long-term fundamental changes in consumer shopping habits and business operations.

The stay-at-home orders minimize the time spent commuting to/from work and nearly eliminate time spent driving to/from brick-and-mortar stores. This means more time to browse and order things online. It also means people who were strictly in-person shoppers at brick-and-mortar locations are now shopping online, and they could transition to partial or fully online shoppers.

  • From March 22 through April 4, web-only online retail orders were up by 52 percent year over year in the US and Canada. (source)
  • Reports from HubSpot, state that the average monthly website traffic increased by 13 percent in March, compared to February this year.

It’s a safe bet that the amount of shopping and website traffic will continue increasing over the next few weeks/months until stay-at-home orders are lifted.

It’s also highly possible that your competitors are already investing in ecommerce, or they are considering it. According to a Forrester report, companies are expected to spend about 30 percent of their 2020 US technology budgets on customer-facing technologies (ecommerce sites, financial management systems, order fulfillment, and more).

Specifically, retail companies will spend 34 percent of their 2020 technology budgets with a deep focus on ecommerce, sales, customer service, marketing, and other related projects.

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Ecommerce Can Help Diversify Your Business

Since “screen shame” is no longer an issue given that most people are housebound, ecommerce can be a viable sales channel to help diversify your business.

Establishing an ecommerce web store arguably has less overhead expenses compared to opening up and managing a brick-and-mortar location. An ecommerce website is always open and can serve as a passive earnings source. And things can get a lot easier once your ecommerce is integrated with your back-office system like NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce Advanced (SCA) and cloud-based ERP.

Compared to a physical location, an ecommerce web store requires fewer employees to manage, there’s no rent, it enables the potential for global operations and exposure, and online advertising is generally less expensive than traditional advertising. Plus, you can gather better business intelligence about existing and prospective customers using metrics gathered from online resources.

Around 40 percent of small businesses are choosing not to invest in a website, but that means that 60 percent of your competition is actively investing or already has an online presence. The time is right to start investigating NetSuite’s ecommerce solution and its fully integrated system. Don’t let your company get left behind!

Create International Customers & Stronger Supply Chain Networks

The potential for global operations and exposure is a major selling point for many companies because there can be untapped potential in new markets. Almost 84 percent of global ecommerce sales occur outside of North America and Europe, so there is a massive appeal to exploring the possibilities.

An ecommerce web store combined with targeted online advertising and marketing can uncover an entirely new international customer base. Maybe there is a product or service gap that your company can fill, and right now there are likely product or service shortages in different areas due to the Coronavirus. In addition to new sales potential, there are supply chain considerations to examine as well.

If there is enough demand in a certain market, it might be worth looking at expanding or diversifying your company’s supply chain network. An ecommerce web store can serve as a lighthouse on the internet that attracts new suppliers, manufacturers, or outsourcing opportunities. Chances are that like-minded companies in different countries are looking to expand their reach too.

Companies with a diversified supply chain network are generally better positioned to withstand times of economic uncertainty like this pandemic. If international expansion is in your company’s future, then NetSuite’s OneWorld is a product that you should absolutely consider.

Double Down On Loyalty And Customer Retention During Market Unrest

Market unrest, uncertainty, volatility for whatever reason is a call to action, not inaction. This action requires a laser focus on loyalty and customer retention. In this current climate of social distancing, retaining your most loyal and profitable customers will be critical to your success. At some point, things will return to “business as usual” and you will want to avoid the cost of having to re-acquire these customers or incur the risk of losing them altogether.

Your customer loyalty program is going to be one of the key assets you’ll be able to leverage during this time. We say this regularly, but it bears repeating – it’s 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer as it is to retain your current one. Said another way, if you are able to increase your retention rate by 5 percent, you will realize a 25-95 percent increase in gross margins, according to research by Bain and Company.

Download Annex Cloud’s Customer Retention Strategies for 2020 White Paper to learn more about tactics and strategies to maximize your ability to retain your customer base during and after the crisis.

Are you interested in a free ecommerce consultation? Contact Us.

Have questions about customer retention and loyalty programs? Contact Annex Cloud.