With all UK businesses taking steps to adapt to the Covid-19 situation, a significant number of retail and hospitality companies have been thinking about ecommerce. We’re exploring why this could and could not, be a good idea in the current climate. 

Change is good thing, as the old Yorkshire saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got”. However, the reason for making that change is just as important as the change itself. With a growing number B2C and B2B businesses feeling the repercussions of the Covid-19 situation, being quick to adapt has been a lifeline to some. It’s inspired some innovative thinking and you only have to take a look at your LinkedIn feed to see how many posts are about remote-working (not to mention the amount of home workouts on Instagram!).

For us at Pedro, the real question is: How can businesses adapt their current marketing strategies and introduce new channels to help them push-on during these uncertain times? 

We’ve been talking a lot about ecommerce and whilst it’s an amazing fit for some, it could be a somewhat untimely and knee-jerk reaction for others.

Below we’ve pulled together some considerations to make before making the decision.

Your market

If you trade physically, it doesn’t always mean that the same market would engage with your business online. There are obvious businesses that can only truly offer their services in person, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors – experience is a key factor in this instance and an online shop wouldn’t always be viable channel to generate revenue. 

Do your research, ask your customers what they think – this can be as simple as starting a poll or sending out an email survey. Don’t just presume that your customers would purchase your products or services online if the actual experience is a key part of your offering. 

Brands like Beerhawk have a fantastic presence on the online craft beer scene, and a lot of smaller breweries have witnessed an upwards trend in demand to provide door-to-door deliveries – partly due to the fact that punters can no longer visit their favourite establishments. We feel this will be a sector trend that is likely to grow post-corona. 

If you can validate market demand, then ecommerce really could be the channel that takes your business to the next level.

Your marketing

“Build it and they shall come”, they said. 

Picture this, you’ve spent a lot of time building your brand and getting your customers to love what you do. You decide to build an ecommerce site, you’re excited, you press the big red button on your go-live date and wait for sales to start rolling in, unfortunately they don’t – herein starts the love/hate relationship so many businesses have with ecommerce.

It’s absolutely crucial that an ecommerce site is backed up with an effective marketing strategy. When it comes to ecommerce, some channels can be tricky and time consuming to manage, and, if your product offering isn’t that niche you might struggle against the big market players. 

Creating an affinity with your online audience to want to buy from you in the first place is imperative and, you’ve also got to be seen, to be bought. Search engine marketing for ecommerce can provide very granular visibility if you optimise your website correctly and for sure, organic traffic can be a fantastic medium for sales and conversions – if you do things in a creative way. Think about how your customers would find you, would they search for your brand or would they search for your individual products? 

The above question would be a good starting point in defining your online ecommerce strategy. 

Paid search, social media advertising, email marketing can prove extremely effective in helping drive online sales. Creative content marketing and social media engagement are also just as important, especially in finding new customers and breaking new markets. 

Your time

Implementing a new sales channel is not without its complexities. Managing an ecommerce store can prove difficult if you are short on time or short on resource. From managing your stock, right they way through to fulfilling orders and processing refunds, it can become too much, especially when you also a brick and mortar business to run. 

The Covid-19 situation has created a degree of panic and whilst the impact is being felt across several industries – implementing a new sales channel (ecommerce) just because your shop or premises are closed is really the wrong way to look at things. Things will improve, so use this time to re-assess your overall business and decide whether an ecommerce presence is a good fit now and whether it will also be a good fit in 3,6,12 months’ time. 

Luckily, there are many platforms and integrations to choose from when it comes to ecommerce and for the most part, they can save you time and help you work smarter. Think about what systems you already have in place and how they need to talk to each other -does your stock system need to integrate with your accounting software, do your online customer accounts need to integrate with your CRM? Take into account how your business is currently operating and invest the right platforms to help you succeed. 

Final thoughts 

Times are tough so keep your head level. Don’t see ecommerce as a temporary solution to the crisis. Reach out to those who have the expertise to help you succeed with ecommerce. Define exactly how it will help to support and grow your business and what you have to do get there.