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The ecommerce brands leading the way in the new normal

The world continues to face the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and industries are seeing considerable impacts to supply chains and consumer demand. Non-essential brick and mortar shops, pubs and businesses in the UK have been ordered to close. In turn, some ecommerce firms in the luxury goods, beauty, and travel industries have observed a worrying decline in sales as consumers look to spend their hard-earned cash on groceries and other essential products.

However, we’re also seeing many ecommerce companies innovate – and thrive – in the current environment. In this article, we discuss the ways in which brands can make sure their marketing efforts remain relevant and top of mind.

Adapting and diversifying their offering

How can your brand diversify its offering? Many companies are now broadening their services and activities in response to the crisis. Food delivery companies have had to adapt quickly in line with demand. Meituan, one of the biggest food delivery companies in China, saw orders for meals decrease and adapted by delivering groceries instead.

With the ongoing concern around social distancing, the company also developed new safety policies. These new policies included requirements for drivers to wear gloves and masks, disinfect delivery bikes and keep a safe distance from other delivery drivers while travelling.

The subscription model is also gaining popularity. KiwiCo, a high-end toy and game company that provides toys for kids up to the age of 14, has seen a rise in orders for its line of subscription boxes. The firm has also developed free online resources for at-home learning, including dedicated articles and videos about social distancing and hand washing. There are 32 million children under the age of 14 in the US, and there are a minimum of 47,000 chain stores temporarily closed.

The spike in KiwiCo’s subscription model and its development of alternative learning resources shows that consumers are now looking for novel ways to keep kids entertained and informed during quarantine.

Tailoring products to an at-home audience

Sometimes simple tactics are the most effective – many ecommerce brands have started increasing their bids on terms for high demand products they already provide. Klaviyo, a growth-marketing platform, reported that 28% of ecommerce brands stated that sales are continuing to rise. Of brands where sales are increasing, 41% have switched focus to products in a niche ‘new essentials’ category including alcohol, CBD products, religious accessories, loungewear, sleep-aids, clothing for online gamers, and identification devices for first responders.

After increasing its bids for high demand products, Gateshead-based supermarket Ethical Superstore saw its non-brand conversion rate increase by 99% in the first week of UK lockdown (23/3/20) compared to the previous year. Its shopping campaigns for cleaning and household products saw searches increase by 1081% and conversions by 1005%, while shopping campaigns for groceries saw searches increase by 216% and conversions by 830%. Top changes in product areas included:

  • 6413% increase in searches for bathroom cleaners;
  • 5980% increase in searches for dishwashing;
  • 4842% increase in searches for tinned tomatoes and vegetables;
  • 1583% increase in searches for baking mix;
  • 1132% increase in searches for pasta.

 Using social platforms

Instagram released internal data that showed 90% of accounts follow a business or brand on the platform. With that in mind, it’s important for ecommerce companies to curate the right kind of content in the current climate. Many brands are moving from glossy, curated feeds to on-topic, relevant videos and images.

For example, Tracksmith, an independent running company, recently posted an Instagram story sharing running-related podcasts as well as books and movies. Activewear brands Sweaty Betty and GymShark have used their Instagram stories to post workout videos and challenges, and GymShark set up a YouTube channel with live workouts for users to partake in.

The brand also changed its Twitter name to ‘HomeShark’ to support the government advice to stay home. Companies changing the tone of their social feeds in this way are discovering innovative ways to engage audiences and drive sales despite lockdown restrictions.

Using innovative technologies

Meanwhile, the use of new technology to stay connected with audiences seems to be commonplace within the automotive industry. Car manufacturer Geely has launched a service that lets customers browse and buy cars online and get them delivered to their homes, making it effectively a ‘contactless’ service. In addition, Mercedes Benz ran a campaign on the WeChat app, where customers can see a 360 degree interior view of its GLB SUV. The video simulates the passenger experience and offers close ups of the car’s detailing.

While the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way companies and consumers are interacting, leading ecommerce brands are inventing new ways to reach customers and create/capture demand. These innovators are adapting the products that they offer and the way they offer them, while others are ensuring audiences remain engaged as a way to generate sales.

It’s important to note that there will be bounce back after the coronavirus pandemic is over – but for now, brands should focus on creating the right offering and developing the right touchpoints for their customers.

Read more on how you can prepare your business for the bounce-back:

  • How to anticipate digital trends early
  • Minimising your ad spend short term while preparing for the future