9 Ethical Ideas to Drive Ecommerce Sales During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus Covid-19 sales header

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COVID-19 doesn’t mean your business has to suffer.

The outbreak is causing havoc for ecommerce retailers at the moment. Some struggling to source inventory, some desperate for an FBA alternative after Amazon’s delivery embargo, and some just seeing sales fall off a cliff altogether.

But people are still buying goods online.

So we thought we’d run through nine ethical ideas to drive sales during these uncertain times. No fake testing kits, no selling toilet paper at inflated prices – just good, honest ways you can react to the situation to keep the orders flowing.

1) Lean on your assets

Any online marketer worth their salt knows the value of contact assets – email lists, social followings, online groups.

Now more than ever is the time to ramp up communications with these people, especially if you’re struggling for sales. Send out broadcast emails, social posts, discount codes, helpful content, and anything to keep your brand top of mind.

Remember:

Times are tough for some people, but others still have disposable income. Some may even have more disposable income at the moment now that they aren’t able to spend it at restaurants, sports events, outdoor hobbies, etc.

Make sure they know your store is still open and ready for business.

2) Change up your angle

What’s the difference between Death Wish Coffee and Counter Culture Coffee?

Answer: the marketing angle.

Death Wish angle their marketing to people who want the strongest coffee on the planet:

Death Wish Coffee ad angle

While Counter Culture angle towards people who are more focused on sustainability and environmentalism:

Counter Culture Coffee nav bar

Both sell coffee. Both claim to be sustainable. Both have strong versions. But they market their products through two very different angles.

The point being:

Can you create a new coronavirus related angle for your products?

For example, Blue Light Kids sell glasses for kids that dilute blue light during their screen time. So they started running ads like this after schools closed for the virus:

Blue Light Kids ad

Get creative and start running ads on how people can use your products during these times.

3) Launch new products

Can’t find an angle with your current products? Maybe you need to source something new in order to compete in the short term.

Fashion is generally taking a hit right now.

But if it aligns with your brand, try creating your own humorous coronavirus related t-shirts:

Coronavirus t-shirt example

Think what would fit well with your brand and store, find a supply, and start selling.

4) Offer subscriptions

Some ecommerce stores have seen sales go through the roof since the stay at home advice.

We’ve noticed a marked increase in orders processed through Veeqo in the last couple weeks. And it’s been a particularly good time (sales wise) for stores in areas like:

  • Home & Garden
  • DIY
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home Gym/Fitness Equipment

If you do find yourself with an influx of new customers, you need to take action to make sure it isn’t just a one time thing. And subscriptions could be a great way to do this.

You’ve probably seen them used on a lot of Amazon products:

Amazon subscribe button

But doing it on your own store is simple enough too. Shopify users, for example, can use apps like Bold Subscriptions or ReCharge to add subscribe options to product pages and take recurring payments:

Recharge subscribe button

Some product lines work better than others for subscriptions. Anything consumable (like coffee, food, etc.) should work perfectly – if you follow up with a great delivery and after-sales experience for the customer.

But try adding this option and creating a follow up email sequence pushing one-time buyers towards a subscription to ‘lock-in’ customers even after the coronavirus outbreak has calmed down.

5) Help others and share your stories

The entire coronavirus story is just plain heartbreaking. People are dying, businesses are closing and jobs are being lost.

But it also seems to have sparked an outpour of generosity and appreciation around the world:

It must be said that the first point-of-call here should be to consider how your business might genuinely be able to help others. As opposed to how you can exploit the situation to make a few extra sales.

But if you do find a way to help, there’s nothing stopping you gaining some exposure through:

  • Sending out press releases.
  • Alerting relevant influencers.
  • Posting on your social media channels.
  • Sharing Facebook and Instagram Stories of your good deeds.
  • Uploading videos to YouTube.

Avoid a flat out sales plug in any of these. But do everything under the guise of your brand and the exposure will inevitably result in click-throughs to your website and product pages.

6) Add extra sales channels

If you’re experiencing a downturn in sales thanks to the current pandemic, now might be as good a time as any to explore adding extra sales channels to your operation.

Selling on your own website? Try adding eBay to the mix.

Already on eBay? Try Amazon.

Already on Amazon? Try some different Amazon locations.

Already done that? Try Etsy.

There’s a huge variety of marketplaces and channels to choose from around the world. All of which can be a potential new source of customers for your business that you were previously missing out on.

You’ll want to use a multichannel tool to ship orders quickly and keep inventory synced though.

You can easily add sales channels in Veeqo by hovering over the Settings cog, selecting Stores and then the blue New Store button:

Veeqo new store screenshot

From here, simply fill in the data and sign into the store when prompted to authorize Veeqo access:

Veeqo add new store

You’ll then be able to:

  1. Keep inventory synced in real-time.
  2. Ship orders for this and every other channel from one place:

Veeqo multichannel orders screenshot

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7) Associate your products with high-performing verticals

Very generally speaking:

Fashion sales seem to be down at the moment. While things like home fitness equipment seem to be very much up.

But this doesn’t mean you just need to lie down and accept the status quo.

If you’re a fashion brand, can you start associating your products with the home gym market? Or with another vertical that seems to be performing well at the moment?

Try:

  • Creating social posts using your products in the setting of the high-performing vertical.
  • Tweaking your product descriptions to convey this angle.
  • Partnering with specific businesses to drive mutual sales.
  • Offering affiliate links to influencers and other stores within high-performing verticals.

This may not be possible for all types of products. High fashion probably won’t play well in the home fitness space, for example.

But if you can make a logical connection then it could be a way in to a market that’s performing well in the current circumstances.

8) Double down on the sales you do make

Any sale made during times like these is crucial.

These are people who have already committed to making a purchase. So they’re in a prime position to get them buying again.

But don’t just wait and hope. You need to take action to make those sales happen.

To start:

An instant after-sales upsell or cross sell can be huge. Tools like Zipify and Sweet Upsell do this by promoting other products in your catalogue directly on your order confirmation page.

Then make sure to follow up with emails and messages pushing more sales soon after purchase as well.

Klaviyo is great for this.

There’s a bunch of pre-built email flow templates designed to get more post-purchase sales:

Klaviyo flows screenshot

But there’s also plenty of apps to do similar things through push notifications, Messenger updates, SMS, WhatsApp and more.

The bottom line is just to not get too focused on going out to find new customers at times like these. Pay attention to customer loyalty and lifetime value as much, if not more.

9) Grow your store’s blog

If you really can’t move the needle with sales right now at all, then maybe spend the time on something that can pay off longer term.

Content marketing in ecommerce is something that isn’t too heavily focused on by brands at the moment. Mainly due to the length of time it takes to build consistent blog traffic and its lack of direct response elements compared to things like PPC ads.

But it could be a worthy investment if the current situation is giving you extra time to play with.

Take Zoma as an excellent example of ecommerce content marketing in action.

They sell high quality mattresses and pillows. And have a blog packed full of useful info on choosing bedding and sleep equipment.

But they’ll always subtly mention and link to their products in the posts.

Like this one on choosing the best mattress:

Zoma blog example

Should they rank in Google for it, the keyword “choosing the best mattress” will bring Zoma a decent amount of highly relevant, free traffic. All people looking for a mattress, with some likely to convert into sales.

It takes time to achieve this, might be something to start pouring your efforts into now to play out big time in the long run.

Final thoughts

The whole world may be reeling right now after the coronavirus takeover. But this doesn’t mean you need to sit back and let your ecommerce business collapse.

Some brands are still making consistent sales. So be sure to try the ideas in this post and do everything possible to make your business one that succeeds.

Have you done well with any ideas not mentioned in this post? What’s working for you right now? Let us know in the comments below.

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