While a looming global recession inches closer, this doesn’t necessarily have to spell doom and gloom for your eCommerce business. A global economic downturn by nature can be an incredibly scary time, but it can also present an opportunity.
Many businesses thrive in a recession due to gaps in the market, record-high inflation, increased demand for their products, and most importantly, re-energized strategies.
But only if they’re prepared for it. Research indicates that 41% of eCommerce businesses have not prepared for an economic crisis. Have you?
Let’s take a look at how you can future-proof your trading and grow your eCommerce business during a recession.
3 ways to drive your eCommerce growth during an economic downturn
#1: Automate more processes
It almost goes without saying — businesses that are primed for growth have as much automation running as possible.
You don’t have the time or capacity to run your business 24/7, so automation can help make up for that lack of time. Think about every process and task you need to do in your business. If it helps, write it all down. Next, go through the list to see if any of them can be automated. Whilst automation on every task isn’t possible and shouldn’t be done, those tasks that are repetitive are often the ones that can be.
- Marketing: Social media channels often have their own scheduling tools or you can invest in an external one for a low cost. Emails can be written ahead of time and scheduled in advance too.
- Customer support: We would never recommend automating your entire customer service process but having standardized replies and out-of-office responses can increase the productivity of your customer service agents. This can also include an automated response after purchase to review the product and the entire buying process.
- Orders: Investing in the technology can be costly but you can have label printers set up to print as soon as orders go through, or on a smaller scale, automate order confirmation and shipping notifications.
- Purchasing: There are programs that allow you to send a purchase order to your supplier when stock levels get below a set figure. This can avoid the panic of running out of stock but also not having too high levels of less popular items too.
#2: Empower your agents
Recessions often equal high levels of staff turnover.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, try to keep redundancies to a minimum.
Even for the remaining staff, an economic downturn often lowers staff morale. The key area to focus on is keeping your existing staff members happy. A recession is a perfect time to take a step back, ask for feedback and see what you can do as a business to keep employees at your company. Can you introduce a flexible working policy? 77% of those working from home say they are far more productive. Increased productivity means higher sales revenue, so it’s a win all around.
In eCommerce businesses, customer service agents are at the forefront of the business. They’re the ones dealing with customers on a daily basis and during a recession, they often face the brunt of any unpleasant comments. This is demotivating for anyone so showing that you value them is key to survival. Your agents want to feel empowered and valued by both their company and the customers they help. Prioritize work-life balance, introduce competition for incentives and promote a positive working environment.
#3: Get a chatbot
Every eCommerce website needs a chatbot. However, there are two levels to this. The first is to feature your FAQs as part of the chatbot and if a question is still unanswered, they can fill out a contact form. You can have various options relating to queries and can always add responses if you get a lot of emails relating to a specific topic.
Having an automatic response means that it doesn’t have to be monitored 24/7 and an agent can reply to queries during work hours. Make sure to include maximum response times as well as customer service opening hours when a contact form has been filled out though. Many queries you receive without a chatbot can be solved by investing in one so it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run! And it will also benefit your customers as they prefer to find their own answers.
The second option is to have a live chat where customer service agents can speak directly to customers. This is a very effective way of dealing with queries instantly and issuing refunds and exchanges for faulty items. We recommend still keeping a form of automation with FAQs initially but a customer can then be transferred to an available agent if their question isn’t answered.
Response times are often faster because a chatbot weeds out non-essential, straightforward queries. Agents will then be able to give personalized responses, with a human-sounding bot taking the bulk of queries.
Turn every conversation into an opportunity for growth
There are a host of options to grow your business during a recession. Whilst taking drastic measures can be tempting, you may find tweaks bring much better value.
Bringing your communications with customers under one roof and streamlining your processes will prepare your business for any challenges it will face.
Contact us today to get started.