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eCommerce Start-ups and the COVID-19 Crisis

Brent Peterson April 9, 2020

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It is very clear that, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many business climates have become increasingly difficult to navigate. With international borders closing, many businesses shutting their doors and people isolating at home, start-up businesses are faced with more challenges than ever, due to a variety of reasons.

The impact on buyer behavior

The global crisis has brought up many changes in consumer behavior, as customers are now switching to buying online rather than go shopping themselves. However, the changes are not only in the offline medium but also in the online medium: as people are spending more time at home, many brands have been forced to shift from offline advertisements to online advertisements. Various research predicts that, in 2020, money spent on ecommerce advertising will grow by 17.7%, while social media spending will increase by around 22%.

Moreover, before the crisis, many businesses focused on so-called nice-to-have products. However, now more than ever customers are choosing to focus more on their basic needs, as their health and safety become a top priority. Because of that, the demand for other luxury items goes down, and many start-ups are required by these circumstances to make shifts in their business strategies.

There will be many disruptions in supply chains

As almost every country around the globe has been confirmed to have COVID-19 cases and many have chosen to close down their borders, there are bound to be disruptions For example, in the case of online shopping, many people should expect delays or timeline changes associated to product shipping, especially if the product they ordered comes from an area particularly dealing with lots of cases.

Secondly, although many factories will try to stay open, many countries are acting towards shutting the non-essential labor factories down. Even so, factories that do manage to stay open will experience a lot of disruption in their operations: factories that rely on taking orders many not be able to get these anymore.

The online medium becomes more and more competitive

James Arrowsmith, a marketer at 1Day2write and Britstudent, states that “due to the global pandemic and the changes in customer behavior, the online market is bound to become more competitive than ever”. It is important for business start-ups to seek to become more popular online and show up more often in relevant search results, as otherwise they will be shadowed by already thriving online businesses.

More than that, many changes need to occur in terms of online marketing activities. Start-ups should invest more into activities such as Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Content Marketing or Pay Per Click. Investing in these activities will help smaller start-ups stay relevant and minimize the financial impact of the pandemic. By doing this, they ensure a certain stability that will prove useful once the crisis is solved, and demand will increase once again.

There is also a need for a change of focus in marketing campaigns, as both SEO and Paid Media to need to focus on different keywords based on new consumer search behavior. For Paid Media, this means that bid strategies will need adaptation, while SEO might have to find new opportunities for changes to on-page optimization.

Online businesses need to improve their strategies

According to Michael Terry, a business analyst at Writemyx and Nextcoursework, “the key to successfully improving your strategies is to understand the customer’s intent and providing content that meets or exceeds their current needs”. Editorial content does this job fairly easily, as it requires little technical input.

Not only that, but more and more start-ups should attempt to dive deep into their Analytics in order to really get a grasp on the current new needs of their customers. As customers are spending more and more time shopping online, start-ups should make sure that their websites are on par with the largest brands, as even small inconveniences can ruin the user’s experience and have a huge impact on your gains and losses as a business.

The world is now rapidly changing more than ever, but it is not impossible to adapt to these new circumstances. For ecommerce, these changes only mean the need to shift marketing focus for a little while, and start-ups that adapt quickly to them will most likely gain more and more popularity.

Josephine Jacobs is a writer at Academicbrits.com and Phdkingdom.com, with more than 10 years of experience enhancing the performance of individual executives, teams, and organizations. She is an executive coach and organizational consultant, and her background encompasses a wide range of programs and initiatives for individual development, team building, organization design, and facilitation. She also writes for Originwritings.com.

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