The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the retail economy, both on a regional and international scale. With most of the world on lockdown, consumer behavior is changing dramatically. As a result, retailers have been forced to close physical stores, and their online shops have also been affected. 

However, some brands are finding opportunities to strengthen customer engagement despite the current situation — and manage drops in revenue. In this post, we will discuss the best strategies for keeping customers engaged during the pandemic.

Shift from Selling Products to Selling Experiences

While people have been forced by their governments to stay at home to decrease the spread of the disease, many retailers who weren’t defined as “essential” businesses have had to close their brick-and-mortar stores and focus solely on their online experience. 

The new normal of people staying home, watching TV, playing video games, or reading books has created opportunities to offer customers new experiences from the comfort of home during one of the scariest periods in our history. 

One of the best things retailers can do right now is to promote online experiences related to your brand. Free experiences are most likely to engage customers right away, but there may be customers who are willing to pay for more in-depth digital activities such as classes, workouts, and exclusive sessions that customers can participate in from home. 


Promote Gifts

While some people are avoiding purchasing new items for themselves, sending gifts during this period of self-quarantine and social distancing is still relevant. While face-to-face contact with people is discouraged, customers still want to be able to send cheerful presents to friends and family. But since so many brick-and-mortar stores are closed, consumers will look for gifts they can purchase and ship online. 

Gift Cards 

Customers can purchase gift cards both physically (from essential businesses) and virtually. Since retailers stand to gain more cash up front and perhaps new customers, it’s worthwhile to promote your gift cards on your website and in your emails and ads. 


Packaging 

Offer special gift wrapping and a personalized letter to your customers who purchase gifts. This kind of courtesy can encourage customers to choose your brand’s products as gifts and share their experience with others. 


Give Back to the Community 

Many people around the world need help right now. Whether it’s food and financial relief for people who have lost their jobs or protective equipment for medical teams in hospitals and emergency medical services, there are a lot of causes to support at the moment — and customers are especially loyal to brands who contribute to causes they mutually believe in. 

Encourage customers to shop with your brand by clearly donating a portion of the purchase revenue to charity organizations. 


Increase Items per Order 

It might be hard to generate new sales at this time, but people are still buying supplies, food, medicine, and entertainment. For retailers, this is an opportunity to better serve customers and maximize the amount of items per order. 

As you can see on benchmarketing.io (a free tool that provides a benchmark for e-commerce KPI updates based on data from over 2,500 brands), the median of items per order is 2.5, but the best-performing companies manage to average 4 items per order. 

Offer Product Bundles

Look at your data, and you might find that some people tend to buy certain products together. Your brand can then promote these products as a bundle. Alternatively, you can bundle products together at a discounted price which can encourage customers to purchase more than they originally planned. 


Special Offers

One great way to encourage customers to spend more than they originally planned is to offer special giveaways, discounts, and free shipping only to customers who spend or order more than a certain amount.


Retain Active Customers 

According to the 80/20 rule, 80% of your revenue is coming from 20% of your customers. Make sure you know who those customers are, and keep them engaged with your brand using the following tactics: 

According to benchmarketing.io, the best-performing businesses manage to retain 60% of their customers. Getting them to purchase again within 90 days is key. 


Retargeting Ads 

During this time, people are more active than usual on social media. Make the most of it, and shift budget to retarget your valuable existing customers rather than spending so much on acquiring new ones. In times like these, the customers you already have need you more than leads and prospects, which will be more scarce during a pandemic. 


Increase Brand Presence on Social Media

With such an increase in social media content consumption, make sure you reach out to your followers with posts and live stories on Instagram to keep your at-home customers engaged with your brand. 


Communicate with Your Customers About the Situation

Your customers are the most important stakeholders of your company. Keep them updated with the actions you are taking to respond to COVID-19. Inform them about how you can support them and what health precautions you’re taking. 

Keep Yourself Safe and Updated

The hopeful news is that COVID-19 won’t stay with us forever. We will overcome this epidemic together, and one way to cope and grow in the interim is by helping each other and sharing ideas and tips. This is why the CCInsights community has been created. I hope that by sharing our data and insights about how COVID-19 is impacting online retailers, you’ll be inspired to share your experiences and strategies as well. It’s time for us all to help each other. Please join me by sharing the knowledge.