COVID-19: adapting in eCommerce

As we prepare to move into the second quarter of the year, things are looking very different from what we envisioned. As the entire world adapts to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’re right here with you. So, we wanted to offer some valuable advice and information to help you get through.

Before any critical decisions are made, it’s vital that we understand the impact of COVID-19 around the globe right now. While it’s hard to make definitive predictions and plan for the future.

Here’s what we do know in regard to eCommerce: 

  • There is a disruption of the global supply chain right now. As the virus originated in China, citizens were forced into quarantine. As a result, this forced factories to shut down, ultimately, affecting the supply chain.
  • The future of eCommerce is unclear.  It’s hard to give a clear overview of the eCommerce space right now. On the one hand, people are staying home so, online shopping in certain sectors has seen a spike (home improvement, survival kits, workout gear). On the opposite end of the scale, they may not be shopping for items that are deemed unessential right now. 
  • Delivery services are stretched. While they’re doing what they can to bring consumers the goods they’re buying online, things are becoming increasingly difficult for delivery service providers. Last week, the NY Post reported that Amazon was to hire 100k workers to fill order surge during the outbreak. 
  • Businesses all around the globe are struggling. According to Bloomberg, it’s estimated that the total cost of COVID-19 to the global economy will sit at $2.7 trillion. While it will most certainly be an uphill battle for businesses to make up these loses, it’s not impossible. 
  • The cost of PPC is at an all-time low. In some eCommerce sectors, PPC experts are reporting the cost of a click as low as 1p. This is something we’ve not seen in decades in some cases.

While coronavirus is shaking up both consumer and businesses behaviour on a massive scale, it’s not game over for a lot of online businesses. But where exactly does affiliate marketing fit into all of this? 

Budgets

As panic mode sets in, a lot of brands will look to cut their marketing budget first. Whether it be in house or external agencies, it’s not always a wise move. While you may need to cut back on ad spend or content, you certainly shouldn’t pull the plug entirely. Rather than finding yourself fighting to keep up with competitors when this is all over, you should be laying the foundations. Back in the 2008 recession, McDonald’s and Burger King reacted very differently. As McDonald’s continued to invest in marketing, Burger King made substantial cuts. Even today, more than a decade later, they never fully recovered from that decision. 

In these unprecedented times, we’re all entering the unknown. So, at times, it will most certainly be a case of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t. One thing’s for sure, though, if you can afford to keep investing in your marketing budget, you most definitely should. Furthermore, as affiliate marketing is performance-based, so there are no upfront costs. It’s a low-cost way to continue to raise brand awareness without having to burden too much financial risk. 

Selecting publishers to work with 

Granted, things are pretty crazy right now, but there is an opportunity to continue to make a profit during these times. With that said, it’s essential that you understand what’s happening (as things change daily). We need to be responsive to make things work for your business. 

While some publishers may not be performing as well as they typically do, others may take the opportunity to shine during these times. As publishers adapt their content and approach, identifying the ones that will work best for you is key. For example, the admiration for the NHS and key workers is at an all-time high right now, publishers such as Blue Light Card and Defence Service Discounts are the publishers we should look to. While this shouldn’t be purely an opportunity to cash in, partnering with these types of publishers to offer increased discounts for key workers in a show of support can only be a good thing. 

So, where you might typically offer an exclusive discount to a top-performing voucher code publisher, instead, consider providing these discounts to closed networks that benefit the people that need it most right now. This isn’t limited to key workers, you can also consider increased commission and tenancy for fundraising and cashback sites; both of which, benefit others. 

Shifting content 

As the Stay Home movement has been introduced to the UK, for a minimum of three weeks, it’s inevitable that a lot more people will be online. While sales might be down right now, this is a fantastic opportunity to work on brand awareness and building lasting relationships with your valued audience. After all, building a brand isn’t all about the profit at the end. A lot of established brands have a significant audience across social channels, their mailing list, and via their website, now is the time to use that for some good.

According to new research, 78% of consumers believe brands should help them in their daily lives. While 75% feel brands should inform people of what they’re doing to help.

As well as producing this content in-house, now is a great time to call on publishers to help lighten the load. A lot of publishers (content-focused, influencers and bloggers) are getting creative with their content, ensuring consumers are engaged. As the coronavirus pandemic consumes the mind and attention of the globe, you need to stand out from the crowd. If you’ve been considering trying out different types of content to engage your audience, now is a good time to take the plunge.

Timely promotions

As people are spending more time at home and the weather is improving, their spending habits will shift. Where possible, you can capitalise on this by tapping into the increased demand. For example, for fashion brands, sales in loungewear are likely to see a spike. After all, if we’re spending the foreseeable indoors, we should be comfortable, right?

Use the time to plan and reflect

When you’re running a thriving business, finding the time to reflect and plan for the future can be a rarity. When we take a step back to look at the positives in this situation, time is certainly one of them. If you’re finding the time you didn’t previously have, use this to address the aspects of your business that may have previously been neglected.

As we all navigate the unknown, taking every day as it comes, it can be difficult to make informed decisions. Take the time to consider your next steps carefully. Lastly, remember the team at Converzion are always on hand to support you through these challenging times.