No matter how well or not well you’ve made it through the early months of COVID, it is now time to take your foot off the brakes and accelerate ahead. That means investing in the areas of business that are going to get you through this and position you well for the future.
For manufacturing, retail, wholesale, and distribution companies, ecommerce has ascended from being a cool convenience or secondary sales channel to a primary and essential source of not just revenue, but business continuity. COVID has confirmed it. When your customers and buyers can’t do business with you “as usual”, you need to offer them a way to do business with you online. And you need that experience to be every bit as good, if not better than your in-store, in-person customer experience.
First up, you need to define your ecommerce strategy. This is where you plan out what your store is and does, what your goals are, and what you need to develop and do in order to go after those goals. A strategy can’t stop COVID or the next curveball that comes your way, but it can help you find your way around challenges and get back on track faster. It makes it easier to be agile and adapt. A lot of companies learned the hard way this year that a little bit of planning and documentation of your goals and strategy can go a very long way.
Next there is your ecommerce technology. You need to organize your catalog well and present your information properly online in a way that attracts and impresses your customers. There’s a lot more to a store than just what’s on the shelf. You need a solid stack of software solutions that will keep your back office and fulfillment operations running smoothly. Quality technology and data systems are how you can deliver the certainty and dependability that customers really want and need from their vendors right now.
We tend to think about consumers and B2C a lot when we talk about ecommerce, but this is an area where B2B really stands out. If you’re selling to other businesses who are relying on your products to operate and serve their customers, then your speed, accuracy, and reliability are that much more important – especially if you are or serve “essential” businesses.
Now is also time to evolve your ecommerce marketing strategy. This might mean different things depending on your business. It could mean shifting from traditional marketing or things like trade shows and expos to doing more marketing online like ads, email and social media. It could also mean advancing your existing digital marketing plan with more modern strategies like marketplaces and feeds, customer reviews, SEO enhancements, marketing automation, chatbots, and data-driven marketing. No matter what your specific mix includes, creating an integrated strategy for all your marketing will help keep your efforts efficient, effective, and aligned with your business goals.