The lockdown advice issued in March sadly forced so many ‘non-essential’ businesses relying on physical visitors to temporarily close, something that is going to hit smaller operations a lot harder than the big brand chains. In the past week, however, it’s been incredibly encouraging to see so many of these smaller businesses fighting back, using a splash of imagination and creativity and some fantastic digital technology to take their offerings digital.
In this email, we are going to look at providing some practical advice on how you will be able to get your business online.
First things first: Get your website in order – and use it to your full advantage
If you’ve relied on your physical location for sales in the past, your website may have simply served as a shop window, showcasing your offering and enticing people to visit you in person. But now you’re closed, you’re going to need to redirect your visitors to either order online or by telephone.
If you’re already set up for e-commerce and online sales, and you have sufficient stock or continued access to it, all good, but now it’s more important than ever to drive those online sales volumes, so you’ll need to make sure the website is equipped to serve you well.
- Are your product descriptions compelling and descriptive enough to close a sale?
- Can people find precisely what they are looking for? Check your user journey is a smooth one and take a look at your Analytics to check visitors aren’t dropping off without making a purchase.
- Are you providing ample information about returns and shipping charges? Abandoned baskets may be a clue here, if you are losing customers right at the final hurdle, it could be they were surprised by delivery times and rates.
- Are you making use of upselling and cross-selling opportunities? You know the type of thing… “People who liked this also loved this…” It’s worth presenting related products to customers who are ready to buy.
- Are your product images well-optimised? This is important not just for site loading speed (slow websites are not good for business) but also for your search rankings. Image SEO is massively important, especially for e-commerce.
- Are you ready for an increase in orders and enquiries? Chatbots could really help guide your shoppers through the buying process and help them find precisely what they need. They are also valuable in terms of freeing up human customer service personnel by answering common questions and referring more complex enquiries. Live chat can also be a huge help with customer support, offering real-time assistance to shoppers who may have technical queries or want to check details ahead of making a purchase. Live chat is actually known to increase order value as well as build customer relationships.
Not selling online? Consider it if what you offer can be packaged and posted and if it can, this could be the ideal time to think about upgrading to an e-commerce website. If it can’t, it’s time to get creative.
If you’re a local business may be selling cakes or produce or handmade gifts, think about whether you can carry on with local deliveries. Of course, they’ll need to be contactless payment in advance and doorstep drops to stay in line with Government guidelines, but that should be fairly straightforward.
What you will need to do though is make sure you communicate to the local public what you’re doing. This can be done through your digital campaigns, which is my next stop, but you can also use your website to help with this:
- Add a welcome banner to your home page explaining what you’re offering. Here’s an example:
- Our shop may be closed but we’re still here for our valued local customers! Call or email us and let us know what you need. Pay by card and we’ll arrange your safe distance doorstep delivery as soon as we can!
- Be sure to list exactly what you are offering, preferably with photos, so it’s clear what people can buy and how much it’s going to cost, including delivery.
- Consider investing in a virtual mini video tour of your shop. It’s a great way to connect with customers and help them feel they’re really shopping!
- Provide as much useful information as possible to reduce the number of calls: You’re going to be busy!
- Set up an easy online payment facility to save taking payments over the phone. PayPal, Payfast, and PayU are just some examples and there are more here.
An important note about website hosting
Whether you are direct selling online or taking enquiries for local deliveries, you’re going to need to make sure your website will support you through these times of increased visitors. What you don’t want is poor hosting that will let you down as soon as your web traffic increases. Chat to us about great, reliable website hosting.
Go digital with your marketing – and redirect traffic to your online home.
It’s time to make the switch to digital marketing formats. If you traditionally advertise offline, perhaps in newspapers or magazines, on buses or trains, billboards or via sports sponsorships, these methods are going to be pretty much redundant for the foreseeable future.
If you’re already using digital strategies to market your business but usually direct customers to your physical location, now is the time to put them on a redirect. Another checklist for you:
- Update your Google My Business listing – put up a post saying that whilst you may be closed to visitors in person, you are most definitely open for online sales or local delivery enquiries by phone or email.
- Put out regular posts across all your social media platforms saying the same thing, and boost them for greater reach if you have the budget. On Facebook you can pin posts to the top of your feed so they are always seen straight away by visitors to your page. Change your cover banners too for instant impact.
- If you are running paid advertising campaigns, amend them so they push leads to your website rather than your physical location.
Need help going digital?
Do you need help getting set up or running your newly digitalised operation, why not talk to us? With a dash of expertise, a splash of strategy and a good helping of the right technology, you could be keeping your business alive and kicking throughout this crisis.