Coronavirus lessons for E-commerce in UAE

Coronavirus lessons for E-commerce in UAE

It’s a heartache, nothin’ but a heartache, hits you when it’s too late, hits you when you’re down.

Bonnie Tyler’s song recorded in 1978 about life after a heartbreak, remains one of the best selling singles of all time. Forty years later, there is another kind of heartbreak that has hit humanity and economy…coronavirus!

However, if you have lived long enough, you are mature enough to know that this is not the end of the world.

Those who learn to pick up the pieces faster and prepare for the next boom are the ones who will flourish on the other side of coronalife.

Our planet has been beaten harder and longer by all kinds of calamities, natural or man-made, and survived. Those who learn to pick up the pieces faster and prepare for the next boom are the ones who will flourish on the other side of coronalife.

If there is one industry that has gained the most with the pandemic it is commerce on the Internet aka e-commerce. After all, shoppers that can’t go to a brick-and-mortar may turn instead to online shopping. But of course, it’s not that simple.

This story will examine some of those short-term (e-commerce coronavirus) patterns and offer some suggestions on how online retailers in the UAE can adapt to shoppers’ new priorities.

1. It will be a cashless society


Not that all money notes are infested with the coronavirus; but here is the opportunity to benefit from the fear of touching other people’s possessions. If your e-commerce store accepts “cash-on-delivery” as a payment option, remove that now! E-commerce was never about just ordering online and then paying offline. True e-commerce is indulging in paying online and simply getting your stuff delivered. This is how it was supposed to play out and now is the opportunity to make that work. This will also eliminate those customers who were placing orders “for fun” using cash-on-delivery option and then refusing delivery.

2. Don’t spend marketing dirhams on mass digital advertising


Performance marketing is key to driving high-intent-to-purchase traffic. But gone are the days when you expect blindly featuring banner advertisements on various websites to acquire traffic. This is the age of identifying the correct segment of population, tailoring the product to their needs and doing targeted marketing. If your digital marketing looks different than this, it is time to change it now. It stands to reason that with more people at home, there are more Google searches going on. In the coronavirus era, there is already a digital fatigue that people are experiencing with increased screen-time; an irrelevant advertisement will also damage your brand.

3. It’s all about correct recommendations


Whether you Netflix or not, there is one lesson to learn from the platform. Netflix offers an exceptional customer experience (CX), intuitively filling your homepage with suggestions tailored especially for you. The movie genre you have watched, the documentaries you feasted upon, the drama series you have binged on are all entered into a complex algorithm and then you are presented with a series of relevant productions which is the classic “you might also like” feature of world wide web.

To the untrained eye, all the suggestions we’re inundated with online might seem essentially the same. After all, there’s no big difference between “you might like,” “your friends liked” and “other people who bought this also bought,” right? Actually, there is, and the right approach to making recommendations can make or break a web business.

Amazon actually explains the process pretty clearly on its Recommendations FAQ page: We determine your interests by examining the items you’ve purchased, items you’ve told us you own items you’ve rated, and items you’ve told us you like. We then compare your activity on our site with that of other customers, and using this comparison, are able to recommend other items that may interest you.

4. Embrace all digital sales channels

coronavirus_ecommerce_kloudkafeOne of the consequences of people being asked to stay at home is, of course, a large decrease in brick-and-mortar foot traffic — or even shop closures. This is a great time for brick-and-mortars to start an online store if they don’t already have one or, if they do, to double down on their online presence and digital marketing. People have varied choices of devices from which they access content, be it desktop, laptop, tablet or the omnipresent mobile phone. Your platform must be seamlessly available on all devices. How the content is displayed on various screen sizes and device configurations is the research that is the need of the hour.

5. Don’t call it The Last Mile


After the customer has placed the order online, the first mile is until the order is still in the warehouse being packed and readied for delivery. Once it is out of the warehouse, the so-called “last mile” begins, onward to the customer location. One of the most obvious impacts of coronavirus is the increase in spending much more time at home than usual. Therefore, customers can tend to get desperate for information on their order whereabouts. Ensure the following notifications are automated and accurate:

  • Your Order is being prepared and will be dispatched soon.
  • Your Order has been dispatched.
  • Arriving today – your package will be delivered today.

Delivery is the real-world connection of your online store with the customer. It is definitely not the last mile as it begins the physical relationship of your brand with the customer; so treat it as such.

6. Create an undeniable loyalty program


It’s been said numerous times in countless retail blogs that most retailers can bank on 80% of their future profits being generated from just 20% of their existing customers. The current times are no different, in fact, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that you’re recapturing your existing customers and encouraging their loyalty.

Promote customer satisfaction by creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for completing certain actions, like giving points when they first sign-up so customers are closer to redeeming their first reward, or even creating exclusive rewards that are only available in May to help re-engage your existing customers with your loyalty program.

In conclusion

The bottom line is that no one can predict exactly what will happen; the magnitude of impact from coronavirus truly is, to use a word many people are quite sick of at this point, unprecedented. No longer does anyone have the choice to be fully proactive — we all have to react in real time to changing information and situations around the world.

E-commerce businesses have been given an opportunity to prove their mettle and turn this heartache into a strong foundation for growth.

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Kiran Borkar

Having been part of the Internet Industry since the late Nineties, he believes Nostradamus goofed up by not predicting how the World Wide Web would change the world.

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