E-commerce has experienced a significant boost as lockdowns and movement restrictions strain other industries. According to a recent World Trade Organization report, there has been a marked increase in online sales and transactions since COVID-19 started becoming more widespread. When you can’t go outside to buy essential goods and other materials, you turn to the Internet and start a Google search.
Online businesses have been instrumental in meeting the needs of consumers during this crisis and keeping the global economy afloat. But as insurmountable as e-commerce may seem at the moment, there are still a few areas that need to improve. Successfully overcoming these hurdles will be crucial in maintaining the upward trajectory of the industry:
Optimizing the customer experience
E-commerce is still a relatively new industry, and rapid changes are always on the horizon. In the area of customer experience, a number of online businesses still have a lot of work to do.
With more people using mobile devices to shop and make purchases, businesses need to optimize their online content to fit these devices. It’s no longer enough to just have a website. You also need to adapt to the latest improvements in mobile technology. If customers can’t read your content or see products properly, you won’t make those conversions.
It’s also helpful to enable people to make purchases as “guests.” Many customers report having to abandon a purchase just because a website is asking them to make an account. While it’s understandable for businesses to collect key data, don’t do it at the expense of irking customers.
Another idea is to make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for. Recent data from Think with Google found that a significant number of consumers can’t find the products that they want or need. Depending on where they serve, online brands and retailers need to invest in the right tools and work with local SEO providers to hone in on searches and show customers what they need to see online.
Prioritizing safety and health of both customers and workers
Given the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, businesses must ensure that sanitation protocols are thoroughly reviewed and constantly improved whenever possible. Aside from the health perspective, this will also play a significant role in assuring customers of their safety.
Researchers have found that the virus can survive on surfaces for a long time, from as short as three hours to as long as three days.
Exact figures will vary depending on the materials involved, but it’s crucial for online businesses not to take any chances. Workers should be equipped with the proper protective gear and minimize physical contact with buyers.
Collaborating closely with the government
While many online businesses and retailers may already be certified as frontline operations, certain areas within countries may still be lacking clear guidelines and legal frameworks around remote service deliveries. Businesses that help with supplying key materials, such as medical supplies, medicine, and personal protective equipment, may still find it hard to operate.
In such situations, it’s imperative to maintain open channels with relevant government bodies to clearly communicate the need of certain products and services that may be deemed essential. Additionally, wherever possible, businesses could also work with the government to provide more robust support to workers during this challenging time. It could be in the area of transportation, social security, or basic needs.
Observers expect that e-commerce will firmly embed itself in countries where it is already available and fast-track adoption in areas where it is still a fledgling sector. Still, it remains to be seen whether it can come out of this pandemic fully intact.