How COVID-19 is Effecting Online Retailers

public relations specializing in online retailers

The outbreak of COVID-19 has thrown our lives for a loop. As many brick-and-mortar stores are forced to temporarily shut their doors, most of us have been forced to shop online. As such, however, online retailers have the potential to maintain strong business goals and stay profitable in this changing climate. At BLND, we have tons of experience doing public relations specializing in online retailers. To help online brands and those with e-commerce sites, we put together some tricks to help you stand out and drive sales during this time.

Keep workers safe

A business owner’s greatest responsibility during this time is to keep their workers safe. If possible, encourage employees to work from home. However, most online retailers rely on their employees to prepare items for shipping and growing order numbers resulted in increased staffing and overtime for many businesses.

We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly when it comes to employee safety today. For example, Amazon failed to protect their warehouse employees, so workers scheduled a walk-out to protest Amazon’s safety procedures. To keep your employees safe and avoid a PR nightmare like the one Amazon is facing, put your employees’ wellbeing first. Regularly clean the workplace facilities, provide employees with protective wear such as gloves and masks, and enforce a 6-feet distance between workers at all times.


Host an online sale

With most people at home in self-quarantine, many consumers are shopping online for things like home goods, clothing, food and more. Offering sale prices on items that people seek out during the quarantine period can help grow your customer base and promote the generosity of your brand. Taking it a step further, many brands are offering free-shipping and delivery to help subset the cost of online orders for the consumer, meaning they will buy more. These deals and specials will drive traffic to your site and encourage the typical in-store customer to try online shopping.  


Seek out brand ambassadors/influencers

Since millions of people are staying home and browsing social media all day, now  is a better time than ever to refine and grow your influencer campaigns. Ask your most loyal customers and employees to function as brand ambassadors, or recruit influencers with a PR agency. Getting your brand in front of as many eyes online is crucial right now, and a strong influencer campaign is the best way to do it. 

In a similar vein, Nordstrom has transformed its typical employee sales commissions to resemble a brand ambassador program. The sales representatives that normally benefit from sales commissions at the store are now encouraged to promote items online. With its doors closed, Nordstrom still offers its employees commission for any orders placed through them. Offering brand ambassadors commission keeps them motivated to seek out new customers and reach out to existing customers for sales opportunities.


Offer customer benefits beyond your products/services

Convincing a customer to choose you over the competition can often be done by offering value beyond the product sold. Standard examples include free shipping and returns, discount codes and offering a variety of payment methods. However, as the competition increases, a PR firm specializing in online retailers suggests to make these benefits personable and relevant. Getting creative with what you can offer your customers is key.

A great example of this are companies directing their marketing efforts towards their quarantined consumers. Popeyes shared its Netflix password with 1,000 people who posted photos of them eating fried chicken. Ford promised to defer car payments up to six months should customers become financially impacted by the pandemic. These added benefits encourage customers to see the value in the brand, not just the products. Plus, these acts of kindness improves the community and adds to CSR, which leads us to our next point…

Don’t forget your CSR.

Whether you’re an online retailer or a brick and mortar, do something positive for your community. Many companies are using this time to build up their CSR, or corporate social responsibility. Some are donating a percentage of proceeds and products to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on people in need. Others are converting factories into workshops to produce face masks and ventilators. These acts of kindness will improve your reputation among consumers. Plus, it will establish you as a brand who cares, making consumers more likely to support you in the future. 

We hope that these tips about public relations specializing in online retailers help you navigate this change in the global marketplace. If you want to learn how to stay relevant and profitable during a time of economic crisis and consumer lockdown, click here.