Tips and ideas for e-commerce businesses to deal with COVID-19 crisis

E-commerce and COVID-19 : how to deal with the crisis

Hi all! I hope you are fine and safe.

Due to COVID-19, many online businesses are struggling and having difficult times. Some business areas are more impacted than others and it mainly depends on products/services they are offering.

In this post, i’ll share some ideas and recommendations on how to deal with this difficult period so keep reading !

Like every crisis, there are winners and losers :

Potential losers :

  • Travel
  • Events based
  • Luxury
  • Jewelry

Potential winners :

  • Online leisure (video games, electronics)
  • Children toys
  • Health products (vitamins, food supplements)
  • News
  • Software and SaaS
  • Online courses
  • Grocery (household products)
  • Food, beverages and coffee
  • Headphones
  • Homeschooling stuff
  • Books

1-Communicate about your company principals and values

During Coronavirus outbreak, fear and panic reign in the world. You are a human first before even being a business. So it is time to stick to your values and principles. We start to see some super initiatives helping people and local businesses.

Some companies decided to donate to help in Coronavirus fighting research. Others communicated on how they are protecting their team during the crisis. Another good move, companies opening for free their paid online courses (here from CXL and here from Ahrefs). Also marketing consultants providinf free support and advice for small businesses.

Remember, when the crisis is over, people will remember the brands that were here willing to help. Yesterday, i received an email from an online SEO platform saying that it is so risky to stop using their tool during the outbreak because Google might penalize your website rankings…Come on, stop your RUBBISH marketing ! Don’t be pushy to sell your product mostly if it is not crucial in this difficult period.

Dave Gerhardt shared on LinkedIn a nice COVID-19 related email from Levi Strauss (jeans). Empathy and humanity is key in these situations

COVID-19 email example – Shared by Marketing Examples

Raíssa Bulhões, designer and illustrator, shared on Instagram : “Thinking about the difficult time we are facing, I decided to use my art to help a little bit to parents who need activities for their children to do at home.” Great move !

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

*Imprima de graça* / *Print out for free* Pensando no tempo difícil em que estamos enfrentando, resolvi usar minha arte para ajudar um pouquinho aos pais que precisam de atividades para suas crianças fazerem em casa. Você pode fazer o download de graça e imprimir as versões coloridas e para colorir do seu Paper Doll. O link está na BIO e também nos Stories. (Imprima as páginas em papel comum ou papel cartão, recorte as roupinhas e acessórios e divirta-se!) ♥️ . Thinking about the hard time we are facing now, I decided to use my art to help parents who need activities to keep their children busy. You can download this Paper Doll for free and print it out. The link is available in my BIO and also in the Stories. (Print out the pages on regular paper or cardstock, cut the clothes and accessories and enjoy!)♥️

Une publication partagée par Raíssa Bulhões (@raissabulhoes) le

Let’s say, if you are a home furniture website, design printable assets games for children at home => People will talk about your brand!

Be altruist not individualist/opportunist!

2-Get your business run remotely

COVID-19 changed how to world is working. Physical businesses are closed, less travels, restrictive movement and MORE remote work. Teams who are used to work remotely are those who will feel the most efficient and comfortable. No worries, many amazing remote work guides share the best practices and tips :

The New Work From Home Worker Checklist: Must Do’s (& Dont’s) When you Start Working from Home

A guide to hosting virtual events on youtube

Manage remote work teams e-book

How to be happy and productive remote worker

Remote working: a practical safety guide for businesses

GitLab’s Guide to Remote Work

How to Work From Home for the First Time

Quarantined- Balancing Working from Home and Mental Health

You feel alone during the outbreak ? join the Remoters watercooler discord server an amazing and helpful community.

3-Define and communicate your new way to work

Clear communication is what matters most during a crisis! If you facing delivery delays be clear about it. Same for return policies. If you send these information by email, think to also update your website (homepage, cart, return and delivery pages…etc).

Another important thing, on some of my customers websites, i’m seeing people searching {Corona|Coronavirus|covid|covid19} terms on internal search engines! Your customers need reassurance and clear information about it, so consider to index the right content in your site search.

Another very important aspect to consider : Are you disinfecting your warehouse and packaging? What measure did you took to protect your team and your customers ? Did you communicated about it ? Redpoints conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. aged between 18 and 55, between March 11th and 12th, 2020. And one insight caught my eye : ” Do you think it is possible to catch Coronavirus from packaging on the products you buy online? “.

38% of survey participants think that it is possible to catch Coronavirus from products packaging

This scientific research has suggested the COVID-19 virus can live on smooth surfaces like plastic and metal for a few days. So think about it!

4-Keep the contact with your audience

With social distancing, quarantine and lock down, you should break the scary silence and keep contact with your audience (not only customers). We are facing a difficult period and everyone is looking for ways to communicate and exchange.

As a result, favor direct means of communication. Social media, videos, emails and live chat. I’m seeing an increase on live chat engagement rates these days on many websites. Remember, in your communication be less commercial, more positive, closer to customer emotion and why not funnier if suitable.

5-Pursue your content production but differently

You intend to pause your content production ? Think again about it. I believe that you shouldn’t stop content creation during COVID-19 crisis. Just adapt and adjust. Here are some content ideas :

  • Focus on creating evergreen content
  • Target fresh Coronavirus related content if appropriate with your business
  • Write about what matters for your audience during these difficult times
  • Be ready for after crisis content

For online travel businesses :

  • Work on inspirational contents : Virtual tours for countries and museums (ex : Louvre virtual tours)
  • Country themed activities : italian recipes, songs, games, films to do during COVID-19 quarantine
  • Give detailed information about impacted destination as suggests Aleyda Solis
  • Create content that makes remember that your destinations will be there when the crisis will end, and promote “book early” campaigns with all the guarantees for cancellations provided clearly. as suggests Gianluca Fiorelli here
  • Content about cancellation/postpone policies + airline companies ones
  • Write content about safety during travels per destination
  • Create interactive maps about the virus spread with a travel layer dimension

6-Work on your technical SEO issues

Update: Google and Bing now suppport the new COVID-19 related structured data (Schema.org) type : SpecialAnnouncement. This type permits webmasters to markup special announcements.

Google documentation: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/special-announcements

Bing documentation: https://blogs.bing.com/webmaster/march-2020/Bing-adopts-schema-org-mark-up-for-Special-Announcements-about-COVID-19

To start with it, you can use this Schema/SpecialAnnouncement generator that i created.

Let’s take it differently and take advantage of this period to improve the health of our websites! Take time to enhance technical SEO aspects of your e-commerce stores.

Panic, stress and more data usage due to Corona virus spread. New online behaviors and more people connecting to internet simultaneously sharing the same connection is additional challenge for loading websites.

Just make your website blazing fast !

At times of crisis, people need to get to the point. Some tips for optimizing your web performance :

  • Test your website’s performance with Google Lighthouse tool and WPT and try to get law hanging fruits
  • Adapt your website loading based on client’s connection type – Addy wrote an amazing guide about it
  • Consider implementing Native Image/iframe lazy loading to speed up above the fold loading – Here is a good tutorial for it
  • Compress your product listing and detail pages images – use SquooshApp to verify
  • Reduce requests per page : It is may be a good time to remove sliders from your sites..
  • Provide an alternative text-only based website for people with limited data plans… NPR did this during Florence Hurricane
  • Consider aggressive caching strategies both on client and server sides
  • For high availability, invest on boosting your web servers configuration and consider setting up premium CDN

Other technical SEO things are worth enhancing during this crisis : Indexing coverage, duplicate content issues, internal linking..If you stuggle to know which SEO topic you should prioritize, check my 2020 SEO priorities post.

7-Be ready for the surge when things get better

If you are experiencing a considerable drop in activity, consider it as an opportunity to prepare well the surge when things get better. We are facing difficult times but we need to stay positive and turn it into opportunities.

What about you ? How are you facing the crisis ? I would love to hear your thoughts in comments. Also, i’m providing help for businesses in need, just ask me here or on myTwitter.

Other posts and resources about SEO and COVID-19 :

What will it mean to do SEO in 2020 and beyond? By Suganthan

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