It is a challenging time for society. We are in the middle of the virus pandemic. Everything is affected by it and we are just at the beginning of the containment.
This won’t affect only our personal lives but it will have an impact on the industries as well. It is little for us to control what happens to us and our businesses but we certainly can try to do our best to cushion the fall of the market and how it affects us.
At a time like these, companies need to handle the situation in a rational way. There might be a lot of information on the internet which all points in different directions, but to make good business decisions it is crucial to recognize factual ones.
Because of shortages of necessities customer’s journeys will change drastically. Everyone is on the verge of panic and trying to make the best decision during this stressful and turbulent time.
For you and your brand, it is recommended to see how you can help your customers, rather than how to achieve short-term profits. If you cover luxurious products, send them messages of support and offer them better payment solutions.
If you provide your customers with necessities then provide them with solutions and information that will reduce panic.
The first occurrence in the change of customer behaviour is with the female population. Their habits change accordingly to the current situation with emphasis on social distancing themselves. They are more influenced by the media and their surroundings so they will react sooner to the situation. While the male population will take the situation just as seriously, but only a bit later.
Not all age groups are going to be concerned with the pandemic at first but if it keeps spreading more people will have a reason to change their behaviour. It starts with generations who are most affected(in this case elderly) and younger generations whose parents or older members of a family could be affected. Young generations will mostly start getting concerned once the social construct will define the seriousness of the situation.
In crises, it is visible that online purchase, main necessities, is increasing within buyers. Customers with higher technological knowledge and those who come from higher-income groups have an easier time transitioning to online and they are more willing to shift to online purchases. While others will mainly remain purchasing products through their familiar channels.
Online purchasing can give customers insight into inventory status and more feedback than in brick stores where workers are understaffed and overworked. Customers based on that data can plan their purchase more thoroughly and calmly.
Your customers' behaviour during the crisis is going to give you a lot of headaches. Customer journeys you have created were made based on observing customers in their normal state. During the crisis, the majority of this data will not be usable. Their habits and ways of thinking change drastically and quickly. They go from a luxurious lifestyle to survival mode. Their patterns on how they work, shop, ate, commuted, and such changed. Location and availability become their most important requirement.
Existing customer journeys can assemble you a general image and it might tell you which of your customers might be panicking or similar, but re-evaluating the whole situation and your customers are unavoidable.
In a normal environment, customers would explore and analyse their options and take into consideration a lot of parameters before buying. But in this instance, priorities of customers change and they shift from all product purchasing to only buying necessities. This process happens over several days or weeks, depending on how seriously the case is presented in the media.
In crises, customers will only look for two things - availability and price. And if the situation becomes even more drastic then customers are limited by location and they only focus on availability.
Online services will see that behaviour with customers, too, but in a slightly less intensive way. With online purchases, customers consider other stores, but mainly to compare prices.
The conversion stage in this case only comes down to availability. Customers already know what they need. What you can offer them is to provide them with additional products or content, e.g. recipes, to ease their situation.
During the crisis, customers might not be limited to move around at first so they can reach more stores, but as the restrictions become more drastic they become more limited by choice. This creates a possibility for eCommerce stores but the crucial point there will be a delivery date. The delivery stage in crisis can be a good sales point. This is where being prompt to inquiries and giving fast delivery options will be crucial. People are anxious at these times and it is your brand’s main objective to help your customers and put them at ease.
In a normal situation, your customers would leave reviews, give their recommendations and such to others based on their pleasant experience. In this case, the delight stage will mostly be visible and acknowledged after the whole crisis passes. Then you will see it as brand loyalty because they will want some business like you to stick around to be able to rely upon with their fairness, quick deliveries and caring for their customers rather than chasing profits.
In a crisis, it comes down to two categories: necessities and luxuries. If your business does what provides products that would be considered not essential for survival, it is best to diverge to giving out support to your customers through messaging.
If you are producing necessities, reassure them with proof there won’t be a shortage to minimise panic. Limit order number per customer to make your product available to everyone and create solutions for people of higher risk. This puts trust into your hands and you get partial control over the situation.
Depending on a situation report them frequently and reassure them that your production is unaffected. They will appreciate it.
If you run out of stock and you’re currently waiting on your suppliers, provide your customers with the ability to pre-order and make sure you keep them updated. Radio-silence in times like these is not advised at all. Your customers rely upon you and if there is a slow-down in the process you have to let them know as soon as possible.
When it comes to promotions, they can be a double-edged sword. The demand is already high enough. If you lower your prices you have to be careful not to over-empty your inventory.
It can put you into out-of-stock and customers will redirect themselves to your competitors. Everything you have earned you will have to spend on marketing and trying to get people back. In the end, you might end up at zero. Or, even worse, in the negative financial bottom line.
Maintaining your brand image on the market will not only come to you. Your customers will also get to create an image of your brand based on third-party sellers. So keeping in check with third parties to make sure they are not priced surging your products is just as important as it is on checking your inventory. Your customers will only remember that your brand’s product was high and that you wanted to profit in these hard times. They really won’t care who the real seller is.
A crisis like Covid19 is stressful. No one is really happy and people are more anxious every day. They constantly need to anticipate what is going to happen next. What will the news say? What is happening in other countries? Is their family going to be alright?
This is no time to turn towards the profits and look at how you can squeeze more money out of customers. It is simply a short-term gain. No one will like you for it then and after the crisis passes, but everyone will certainly hate you and avoid you just like the crisis itself.
In times like these, you can show who your brand is. This won’t seem much in times like Covid19, but if you follow advice from this booklet, once it all passes you will see the long-term benefits of treating your customers as human beings by being thoughtful. Do what is right! We’re human after all.
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