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5 ways you can adapt to rising online demand

We all order from home. But if you’re like me – someone itching for ideas to pass the time away – demand for must-haves at home has all of a sudden skyrocketed.
I’ve just ordered a set of paints from Windsor & Newton and 30 Belgium blondes from Beer Hawk to get me through this lockdown. Never have I ever wanted to order so much, because frankly I can’t go to the pub, plus the daily walk isn’t doing it for me. But it’s important to remember why we’re staying at home, working from home, and not going outside. Our homes have now become our working and socializing space. So, of course, people are going to be actively looking for new things to do to pass the time; ways to make lockdown more enjoyable.

Online demand has shifted to the home

Staying at home all the time means our routines have changed. Whether you’re working in your jimjams all day or still donning an Oxford shirt, Groundhog Day is here to stay at least until May. Many of you will be supporting the heroes on the frontline, volunteering to drop off food packages or medicine to the vulnerable, or even calling isolated relatives for a friendly chat. And that the same time, most of us will also want to order in some lockdown essentials to make the time at home pass. And no, I don’t mean toilet paper. Things like:
  • Body cream (we don’t want to look any older once this lockdown lifts)
  • Several cases of wine (bottle a day keeps corona away?)
  • Cookery books (don’t say you don’t have time)
  • Cheese (because, cheese)
  • Paint (if you’re a keen amateur painter like me)
  • Jigsaw puzzles (preferably 1,000-piece)
  • Hair dye (if you’re usually blonde and need to keep up appearances for those video calls)
  • Travel books (because it’s good to dream)
  • Board games (Exploding Kittens – because you’d be mad not to!)
  • Toblerone (an endless supply of Fruit & Nut, or maybe White Choc?)
Replenishing your entire drinks cabinet at a time of crisis seems, well, essential. Or, ordering a new set of garden furniture with spring in full swing, also necessary. Perhaps re-painting your living room is in order? Whatever your idea, customer demands like these wouldn’t usually put a strain on businesses. If it weren’t for everyone doing the same thing at once. Companies up and down the country (of many countries) are now facing a new dilemma: almost every customer is under lockdown and wants stuff, now. Not in 10 days, but now. Brands are rising to the challenge diligently. For example, this interesting article highlights various home furnishings and gadgets that can make isolation more comfortable. Things maybe you wouldn’t have ordered before, but now seem an absolute must. Businesses are adjusting and moving into this new space, but how?

How should businesses respond and adapt to more online demand?

By no means is it an opportunity for businesses to profiteer from the situation. Far from it, many industries are suffering terribly because of a dramatic fall in demand. But for some – and hopefully for your brand – it is an opportunity to align your business model to that of a home demand economy. That means adapting your operations to ensure the safe production and delivery of your products, plus a healthy environment for your workforce and staff.
  • Ensure your production line complies with social distancing rules
  • Streamline your delivery process so products are handled less
  • Equip your teams with preventative equipment like gloves and masks
  • Tailor your messaging to address new needs and reinforce brand trust
So, how can you tackle the sudden rise of the home demand economy? Here are five ways to meet your customers’ newly defined needs:

1. Make your lead times realistic

Set expectations that deliveries will take longer. But, remind customers that that’s because you’ve put measures in place to operate safely, which means they can still get your amazing products. Drive home the benefits. Here’s a nice example from dotdigital customer Beer Hawk:

2. Be honest about any changes to customer perks

It’s a tough time for businesses, so concessions may have to be made. Let’s say for example you’re a subscription business that treats customers with a freebie each month, but now needs to put it on hold because of the lockdown. This could be due to finances or logistics or both. Just let them know in a really nice way, explaining the reasons as best you can. They’ll understand. Here’s a nice email example from Naked Wines with copy that hits the mark:

3. Communicate messages that reinforce your brand’s reliability

You want to maintain customer confidence throughout the lockdown to prevent a slip in demand. Sometimes that means being more flexible. So, what better way than to extend existing customer benefits? Retailer Topman quickly reinforces confidence in their emails with a hero banner committing to free delivery and extended returns. All to help customers get their products safely and on time.

4. Be transparent about your safeguarding measures

It’s important you tell people what extra measures you’re putting in place to minimize the risk to your employees and customers. Spell everything out clearly: that you want to continue trading – which means providing the same high-quality products and reliable service – while adhering to the necessary safety measures. Contextually, this adds tons of credibility because it shows that you care, are taking things seriously, and going the extra mile to keep everyone safe. Here are some carefully curated messages from The Folio Society and The Body Shop.

5. Adapt your brand narrative to the changing situation

The art of messaging and copywriting is an important thing to master during times of crisis. Just make sure that you’re using sensitive language and not pushing the sale too much. This is all about aligning your product to complement customers’ current circumstances: spending all their time at home. The Body Shop, for example, focuses on self-care and taking time out. Meanwhile, furniture retailer Swoon paints a picture of how peoples’ homes are transformed into offices, classrooms, and gyms.

Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is easy when you’re at home

Marketers have never been able to relate more to their customers than now. Because we’re all in the same boat. Whatever your trade, whether it’s stationery supplies or artwork, sports gear or gardening tools, there’s never been a better time to connect with your customers at home. They’re switched on and looking for things to do, and your product could be exactly what they’re looking for to fill the time. Help them fulfil a particular need, from doing odd jobs around the house and circuit training in the lounge, to improving their baking skills or knowledge on French terroirs. Wine anyone?
Stay safe.
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