The “new normal” has taken a toll on individuals and organizations alike. Due to this global problem, the economy of the country has been greatly affected. Many businesses, especially non-essential ones, have temporarily and even permanently closed. Even those considered as essential in the market experience the struggle of staying on their feet because of the numerous challenges that are continuously thrown at them. With these constant changes, and with every new guideline that is created to fit the lockdown guidelines, many business owners have been left to transform into digital businesses to keep afloat.
James Fernando, Founder of ShirtlyGlobal Inc., took the time to discuss the E-Commerce Pivot in businesses in the time of COVID. He says that in a successful vertical e-commerce store (AKA a store that is focused on just one industry), there are two key players involved: the E-Commerce Operator and the Domain Expert. The E-Commerce operator is someone who has worked in the e-commerce sector and is knowledgeable on topics from digital marketing to supply chain, and the Domain Expert is someone who knows everything there is to know about the business, from the product, to competition, to pricing.
In a successful e-commerce business, there has to be synergy between these two players. You have to work with the people around you to build a successful vertical e-commerce store. Partnership, acquisition, and hiring are all considered essential collaborations between an E-commerce Operator and a Domain Expert. Find people and organizations who are working towards a similar goal, and see how you can benefit from each other. If you are an E-Commerce Operator, find a product that has good margins, that is in a space that isn’t too crowded. If you are a Domain Expert, Fernando recommends making it a habit to learn from E-Commerce Operators, and be open to learning about the best practices in e-commerce.
A collaborative effort between these two players could result in successes such as reaching a wider audience, scaling your business, expanding a product line, or further developing your current products and services. One example of a collaborative effort that James mentioned was of Rare Food Shop. They are a meat and seafood online store, and they are a sister company of a supplier of imported meat that caters to hotels and restaurants. Because of their partnership, they are able to reach each other’s markets and continue to operate and thrive during this time.
Another guideline given by James regarding the shift to e-commerce is to launch your e-commerce business as soon as you can. The market is operating in a way that is unusual and unexpected, but one thing that can be guaranteed is that a large chunk of transactions will continue to happen online for the time being. Delaying your decisions to act now or choosing to procrastinate could either make or break your business. Monitor the trends of e-commerce businesses that you see on social media, and take advantage of the space online.
For essential businesses that are just starting off online, Fernando recommends creating a Shopify Store as soon as possible, ensuring that you are training your employees to provide good customer service, and launching prospecting ads targeted to your users. For non-essential businesses, make sure that you have your digital transformation plan ready – see what needs to be added to your current list of tasks in order for you to be able to operate efficiently online. Engage with your audience on social media, find out what they want from your business at the moment – remember to be sensitive about the current situation. Fernando also said to launch ads, and if possible, accept pre-orders for your products. Lastly, for non-essential businesses, Fernando says to consider a pivot.
A pivot is a big change in the direction of your business, or a spinoff in the services that you currently offer. With the new normal in place, nothing about how we lived our lives in the past can be guaranteed to make a comeback. We have to accept that we may need to diversify temporarily, if not permanently, to keep our businesses alive. What we can do now is start learning everything we can about e-commerce, start looking for partners that we can work with, keep an eye out for business opportunities that are sure to arise in the next couple of months, and of course, continuously align ourselves with the constantly changing situation to the best of our abilities.
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