As the Coronavirus outbreak has hit the entire world, the world and businesses are experiencing surges in orders, customer behavior changes, disruptions in supply chains, recession, job loss, store closures and more.
With time the Corona crisis is evolving and its effect is impacting B2B businesses all over the world particularly the e-commerce business. With the view of maintaining social distancing all over the world, online businesses have increased by around 50% with an almost 8% increase in the customers. While the e-commerce businesses are observing a surge in their sales some companies like luxury and cultural goods customers are seeing a decline.
This article discusses the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on B2B e-commerce. It also includes various challenges faced by the organization, its solutions, opportunities, and preventive measures that can be taken by B2B businesses, to help you steer business during these stressful times.
How can you manage your B2B e-commerce business during the COVID-19 outbreak?
- Bring customers online
During this COVID-19 outbreak ensure your business continuity, by moving your customers to use your online services. Utilize this time as an advantage to boost your business by encouraging your customers to shop online. While there may be some customers who are already shopping from your online store, but still you may need a helping hand.
Below mentioned are some tips on how you can assist them:
- Send them messages that remind your customers that your online services are still active even though the physical stores are closed.
- Hire sales representatives who can make calls to the customers and get their online accounts set up.
- There are certain features on the website that help customer service representatives to guide the customers on how to shop and place an order online.
- Take care of your existing customers
It’s important to look after your customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a company, you can take care of your customers by offering additional services like discounts, or gifts. Supporting your customers and their communities, during these difficult times can attract customers to your website. Here are some tips that can benefit your customers and your business like:
- Offering additional discounts or benefits to the customers who are in worst-affected regions or sub-regions.
- Always ensure enough stocks in your mind and prioritize it for existing customers over the new visitors who are intended to buy single products.
- Help customers by offering an additional return to those who are facing a financial crisis. Make any benefits visible in the web store to help them manage to buy the products that are pocket friendly.
- Regarding communities, consider supporting them by offering free services to community response teams. You can also help them by keeping the stocks aside.
- Make sure your e-commerce platform has products that suffice the needs of B2B companies.
Ensure your e-commerce site meets the needs of B2B customers. During a pandemic breakdown when there are a lot of people who are shopping through an online store it’s important to maintain a convenient, reliable and complete web store.
- Promote relevant information on your website: Ensure that your website is showing accurate and real-time information about the products, its parts, and complete information regarding delivery information.
- Optimized and error-free functionalities: Make sure you offer user-friendly functionalities on your website where customers can quickly and easily pay and check out. Functions, like tracking their orders and managing returns and refunds easily, should also be made easy.
- Complex orders made easy on the website: Make sure that your website has the right structure in place to process the complex orders, pricing, and discounts with ease.
- Prevent errors related to orders: Errors in the product description, pricing, and inventory levels should be accurate and updated 24/7. Also, customers should have access to their previous orders and account data that can help assist them in avoiding entry and selection errors.
- Streamline your returns process
Due to COVID-19 outbreak, it may be possible that you may observe out of stock products and observe fluctuations in demand and supply for certain products. In such a case, customers can cancel the order and may want to return the package due to financial suffering.
So, be sure to make the process of returns user-friendly for your customers. Also, allow them to authorize their returns and track the progress themselves making user-friendly customer service.
- Make your market presence into other regions.
If you have an existing web store and if you are thinking to roll out further web stores to new regions and markets then this is the best time to roll out your presence. This can not only help increase revenue but also brings the cut-off customers to your website. You can launch your web store to regions where you currently have a physical presence but no online presence. You can also open up a D2C e-commerce site that may help you bypass any disruptions in the supply chain, or even find new sources of revenue.
- Deal with demand and supply chain disruptions
The COVID-19 outbreak is leading to spikes in demand for certain products, while also disrupting supply chains with transportation restrictions and establishment closures. According to a poll by the Institute of Supply Chain Management, nearly 75% of companies have reported supply chain disruptions. During these unpredictable times, it’s hard to predict when the demands for your products might increase.
Here are some strategies to optimize your e-commerce site’s performance and stability to deal with peaks in traffic:
- Stable infrastructure: Make sure your web host is capable to handle the surge in website traffic
- Load balancing: Spread the load over different machines so that in case one machine fails you have others to continue serving your customers
- Lazy loading: Reduce the load on your server by using lazy loading.
Be ready for disruption in the supply chain. Enable your web store with the following to ensure minimal impact on your customers and service teams
- Display current stock level and prices on your web store
- Enable your customers to track the status of their orders
- Clearly show out of stock items and give customer information the ability to be notified when it will be back in stock.
- Put in safety measures to protect your employees and customers
During these pandemic breakdowns, it is also important to consider the safety measures of your employees. Even though online shopping can reduce face-face interactions, this is only true to a certain extent. at the end of the day, you must check the physical logistics, to deliver the goods. Try to employ new safety measures like asking a minimum number of employees to work, putting face masks on, and maintaining social distancing while delivering goods.
- Is it too late to launch an e-commerce web store when you don’t have one?
As we observe the corona outbreak affecting all over the world, the demand for e-commerce grows, it is a critical time to launch an e-commerce platform to ensure revenue and continue offering services to your clients. In such a case there are two things you should consider which are the short-term possibilities and long-term possibilities.
If you are looking to scale up your business by launching an e-commerce store, you can go for it. Choose a Saas solution that can help to meet the delivery speed of your web store.
At Webdecorum, a web design company in Gurgaon can help set up a cloud web store in a matter of days. This can be done with the help of ERP-integrated e-commerce solutions.
Long-term changes in customer behavior:
Launching an e-commerce store can have long term benefits. This is because once the customers start purchasing through your website; it is likely that customers won’t ditch the habit. This means even if launch an e-commerce store it can meet the changing behavior of the existing customers even after the coronavirus outbreak and lockdowns are over.