Corona has driven digitization,E-Commerce, online trading is developing rapidly: You have heard this so often in the past few months that I don’t have to repeat it. However, it is all the more important to know what small business owners in particular have to concentrate on when optimizing their shops if they want to keep up. And we can take some lessons from the crisis with us. Here are four eternal success factors that you should never lose sight of, including specific suggestions for optimization:
1. User Friendliness And Convenience
Even the biggest Internet grouch is now shopping online. Thanks to Lockdown, industries have now also arrived on the Internet whose digital offers German consumers have previously struggled with – for example the food trade. So the competitive pressure is growing; the demands of the users grow with it. The further away we are from each other, the more demand arises for service, availability and customer proximity. The ideal shopping experience ends with a positive surprise that everything went so smoothly.
What SMEs Need To Do:
After the logistical chaos and the delivery bottlenecks of the last few months, expectations in terms of deliverability and shipping costs have risen considerably; Free shipping is practically standard in some industries. If there is still room for improvement here, look at your price calculation as soon as possible and research your options for recovering the shipping costs elsewhere.
The expectations of accessibility have also risen considerably. You should not only be available as soon as possible (keyword: customer support), but also via the customer’s preferred channel, be it telephone or e-mail, Facebook Messenger or Zoom. Distribute the areas of responsibility for these contact options sensibly among your employees.
If you often have to deal with the same inquiries, look around for automation options, for example through FAQs or chatbots . Make sure that as many answers as possible to typical questions are made available online in an easily digestible manner and that interested parties can easily find them. That is why the trend towards content marketing remains also highly topical this year.
The days of cold calling are over. You will not get to know anyone at trade fairs as long as there are no pandemics. More than ever, potential customers are researching online in the B2B area before deciding on products and providers. As a B2B provider, make sure that you offer your customers the same convenience in online communication as is usual with a B2C company. Use LinkedIn and XING to maintain your networks.
When retail moves to the Internet, the detour via retail becomes more and more senseless for manufacturers. Why first pass the goods on to another online shop that sells them when you can simply offer them yourself? And from the customer’s perspective: If I want to buy a Fiat, why should I go anywhere other than www.fiat.de? The trend towards direct sales in the industry has been on the advance for many years and is now getting another big jolt.
What SMEs Need To Do:
As a retailer, do not rely on the fact that you can stand out from the competition in the long term with your product catalog alone. Establish yourself as a competent service provider at an early stage : With you, the customer receives individual advice, special product combinations, recommendations handpicked by experts, product support, etc. Whereby we would also be with content marketing ! Establish customer loyalty far beyond pure sales. The social networks in particular can help you with this. Customers increasingly appreciate the special expertise of providers and are quite willing to pay a higher price for it.
Make sure that you as the manufacturer establish direct (end) customer contact , even if you have not yet started direct sales. With platforms from Instagram to LinkedIn , you have countless options to choose from to generate visibility and followers. You and your employees become visible as experts.
3. Social Commerce
This trend is not new either, but thanks to Corona, it has also received airflow. Social media has long played a central role in our social interaction. In the pandemic, it becomes the most important tool for many to stay in contact with the world: The social usage figures have risen into completely new spheres. And the considerable influence of recommendations via social networks on buying behavior has long been well documented. Good for us: Numerous social platforms respond by providing direct sales opportunities.
What SMEs Need To Do:
Research your options for entering sales directly via social platforms such as Facebook or YouTube . The first medium of choice should of course be the channels on which you have already established a presence.
Familiarize yourself with the topic of influencer marketing and find out how you can involve established YouTubers, Twitter giants, etc. to make your product known to their users. Many influencers now officially operate such collaborations with brands and companies and are paid accordingly. So-called micro-influencers with a small but often particularly interested audience are often suitable for niche products .
4. Sustainability And Corporate Responsibility
Just because we are all currently sitting at home doesn’t mean that we have forgotten our needs and ideals from the past few years. Generation Z is just as committed to sustainability and corporate responsibility as it was in 2019. They may currently have less money for luxury goods, but still maintain their considerable appreciation of companies that deal with their responsibility for the environment and human interaction. A positive effect for you in the pandemic: The number of consumers who shop online from local or independent providers has increased significantly.
What SMEs Need To Do:
Before you become worried about activism and turn your processes upside down, first take a look at your existing processes and determine what you are already doing with your company for the environment. Good employee conditions, the use of alternative energies or promotional items without plastic can already be found in many companies without their existence being publicized in an effective way. Often it is also possible to become more environmentally friendly or more energy efficient by making small changes, and you can also make this public – for example through a mission statement on the website or by documenting the improvement process in your social media.
Take a look at what your customer physically gets to see when they place an order and what impression you leave on him in the process – typical keyword: packaging materials ! The customer reacts more and more critically when he holds plastic in his hand where paper could also have been used.
Do your best to invest in future procurement processes and investments in solutions, media and providers who stand up for society, democratic values, fair cooperation and against climate change.
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