Adapting Your Business in the Face of Shifting Consumer Behaviour
Future-proofing is an essential part of any business and if not compensated for, it’s safe to say failure is an inevitability. Companies should always plan for the worst possible outcome, and with the world caught up in the midst of a global pandemic at present, many businesses simply can’t adapt to the ever-changing landscape surrounding COVID-19.
All types of sectors and industries are drastically altering and reinventing the infrastructure and framework of their business. From restaurant chains taking the unprecedented step of delivery services, car manufacturers creating respirators, the health and wellbeing sector switching to a more virtual offering, and even retail companies completely reevaluating their supply chain logistics. This shift in direction, whilst not planned, has seen many industries realise their potential, particularly businesses that operate online.
Online retailers have seen a huge boom as a result of Coronavirus. It’s estimated in 2019, 18.7% of all retail sales in the UK were from e-commerce transactions, yet this has since seen a global increase of 52% compared to the same time frame last year. This is an absolute colossal jump in buying trends which shows no signs of slowing down as most of the world is told to stay indoors at all costs.
One e-commerce sector which has seen significant levels of growth in sales is the vape industry, which has had to be sufficiently adaptable and shift to government regulations and consumer needs. This adaptability has built resilience for shifting consumer behaviours and changing regulations.
With the current pandemic playing out, it is essential to fine-tune your business no matter what the proposed or final outcome may be. With the economy expected to take an even bigger hit than the recession of 2009, it’s vital to plan accordingly and now.
Optimise your customer-facing channels
In the e-commerce trade, If you are operating without a credible and accessible website you are missing the very foundation that your business should be built on. People want immediacy, none more so than in this unstable current period, therefore whilst you want users to spend as much time as possible online, you also need to make sure they feel they can view and purchase exactly what they need hastily.
A business should provide as much customer interaction and rich content to aid customer habits, aiding them every step of the way to provide a satisfactory experience. This provokes transparency which shoppers ultimately crave for, they want to know what they’re buying and essentially what they’re buying into.
If a first-time customer is having a pleasing and beneficial interaction, the chances of them returning and purchasing goods are high. Any businesses ethos should be to treat their consumers like royalty, in all levels of the company, which intrinsically converts to customer retention and loyalty. At a time of global unrest, loyalty is the dominant form of currency and will go a long way in defining your future position in the marketplace.
Key Areas Which Can Make A Difference
The utmost attention to detail must be utilised at all times during uncertainty, in all manners of aspects. Keeping on top of stock levels during the recent panic buying spree is incredibly vital. It can be difficult making sure shelves are stocked during these stressful times which is why close communication with suppliers is important. With many competitors using the same suppliers, sometimes it’s worth over-ordering to keep stock levels at a healthy ratio whilst also appeasing suppliers with an increase in their profits. Making sure data is constantly evaluated to prepare for a possible oncoming wave of orders is a necessity.
However, all of this is completely redundant if the development of a highly efficient and well-tuned warehouse isn’t in place. From the tactics of first in first out, stock fulfilment, expiry date checks on perishable items and compliance checks on a daily basis, all of these variables are important to the regular auditing and management of packaging and delivering a product correctly and with efficiency.
These ethics are of course passed through to the digital side of the business, inevitably if one fails then so does the other, therefore attention to detail is one of the traits most pride should be taken, whilst costing next to nothing to implement. This also includes utilising all uses of available communication to engage and support customers, including face to face, telephone, webchat, email and WhatsApp contact. Ensuring all of these processes through sensible delegation is the ultimate foundation of building a leading e-commerce business.
Create a strong foundation for organic marketing channels
SEO is the bread and butter of modern business and essentially determines the position in the market. If a special new product is scheduled for release, particularly a new piece of hardware, the chances are customers who are anticipating its drop will type in the appropriate key search term into Google.
It is pivotal to make sure a high-quality product page is created for each product, meaning an image and description of the relevant product is high up on search rankings. Because of Google’s tendency to constantly update their algorithms, competitors are consistently looking to adhere to these habits to achieve successful audience interaction. This extends to existing, established products, filter pages and content also. Due to paid advertising, social media platforms and other channels of advertising at times liable to restrictions, ensuring the optimisation of online channels for organic rankings remains probably the most important factor in gaining traction.
There’s no shame in admitting it could be a struggle and who knows what the future may hold for not just the economy but society in general. Just like in any e-commerce business to get ahead, or even survive, the simple things must be done correctly and with consistency, whilst always being on the lookout to adapt and mature with the market no matter what direction that may be. The best and simplest form of advice to give anyone looking to stay afloat during unpredictable moments is to pay the closest attention to detail to all aspects of the business and always plan for the worst. That way you’re prepared and if you do sink, it won’t be without a fight.
This article is written by our guest author, Vlad Vassiliev. He is the co-founding director and CEO of Vape Club Ltd, Vape Base Ltd and All Vape Ltd. With over 18 years of experience in online publishing and retail, he has been a director of over 20 e-commerce businesses across a variety of fields. Boasting an extensive knowledge in the online world of retail, his past ventures and constant attention to detail solidifies his status as an e-commerce guru.