We are currently living in a constant state of flux in Australia. While in some states, shops and businesses are starting to open again, in others, lockdown measures are being re-instated. But one thing is clear, social distancing is here to stay. In addition to the new and unique demands in physical stores, retailers are quickly adapting to an increase in online behaviour, not seen since the dot-boom.

Ecommerce has been around for a while, and yet, how to connect with customers when they are in lockdown in their homes is a major concern currently for businesses globally. The key to successfully reaching out to your customers in their homes is to accept the current situation as the new norm and adapt effectively. Here are some key tips and tricks to adapt, survive, and thrive in these challenging times.

1. Pay attention to your ecommerce reporting

As the news and public service announcements keep reminding us, these are strange and unprecedented times. This means your customers are acting in strange ways. Heck, we all are. Don’t assume anything at the moment. Keep an eye on your reporting dashboards to pay attention to how your customers are reacting right now. As lockdown begins to lift, can you see any changes in their behavior? Brands that have unified their ecommerce and omnichannel marketing platforms are seeing the benefit now, more than ever.

Ecommerce integrations allow you to deep-dive into everything from click-through rates to return on investment. It means you can see how engagement has changed to figure out what your next move will be. Things are going to be different for a while, so it’s best to adapt now rather than try to wait anything out.

2. Empathise with your customers

Everyone is craving a bit of honest and human interaction at the moment. That’s why ecommerce brands that are using empathy in their campaigns are seeing success. Think about your customers’ needs before hitting send on your usual campaign – can it be tailored to better address the current situation? We don’t mean addressing the elephant in the room on the top of every email or SMS, but be mindful of how your products and services have changed to your prospects and customers these past few months. Will this campaign resonate right now? Will something else work better?

Personalisation really comes in handy here. Whether you’re tailoring the message to different personas, or pulling in dynamic content that is relevant to the recipient, brands that personalise show they care, and customers are really responding to this.

3. Use live chat on your ecommerce site

If you don’t already have live chat on your ecommerce site, now is the time to consider it. Many people who have been casual online shoppers are turning to ecommerce to get the fix they normally would from a brick-and-mortar store. Only without live chat, they just aren’t getting the same care and attention that they would from the in-store experience. Sure, some stores are reopening, but with extremely limited capacities.

This is not to mention the fact that many consumer’s shopping habits may have changed for good. So, it’ll be even more important to adapt for the future. Live chat enables you to staff your online store with shop assistants ready to engage, support, convert, and even upsell.

4. Leverage product recommendations

There’s a reason why we’re seeing so many familiar smiling black ticks on cardboard packaging across our streets curbs at the moment. Amazon built its empire with the bolstering assistance of product recommendations, and there’s no reason why you can’t either. Now is the perfect time. Shine a light on your product and service offerings that consumers might not even know you have. Offer your ecommerce customers AI driven recommendations, on everything from ‘most popular’, to ‘best-next’, and ‘also bought’.

5. Consider new channels to reach your customers

Email is a great and effective channel for ecommerce stores to reach customers and prospects. But it’s not the only one, and other channels often have lower competition for your customers’ attention. SMS for instance has unbeatable read through rates, and brands love the ROI they see from using it. If you have an app, now might also be the time to work push notifications into your omnichannel marketing strategy. Screen time for phones has never been higher. This is an opportunity to reach customers in new ways.

Aparna Gray is head of marketing for APAC at dotdigital