Business > Merchant Voice

‘Shop local’ applies to ecommerce businesses, too

The pandemic has altered the behavior of consumers, moving from in-person shopping to online. We have experienced it here in the U.K. Online ordering has increased significantly. Once the initial fear of ecommerce has subsided, consumers see the benefits of convenience, delivery, price, and more. For many, it will become a permanent habit.

When the U.K. went into its second lockdown, online retailers increased their advertising in the hopes of picking up even more business. Interestingly, however, so did local, physical stores. Many started advertising on Facebook and local media, emphasizing their local roots and community involvement. Local delivery and click-and-collect are now popular.

All too often ecommerce companies forget the local angle. We focus on national and international sales and forget the shoppers just outside our doors.

Local ecommerce

So why not start a “shop local” campaign? Consider offering same-day delivery to nearby customers as well as a click-and-collect option. “Shop local” applies to ecommerce businesses, too, who employ close-by residents and otherwise participate in community commerce.

Becoming more involved with your local area can drive sales. For example, here in Norwich, which is roughly 100 miles northeast of London, local internet retailers have helped food banks by providing warehouse space, packing materials (for food parcels), and general logistical support. This has generated substantial goodwill and no doubt increased local orders to previously unknown businesses.

First-time buyers

Many local consumers have likely never purchased goods online. Consider how to help these prospects place their first order. A telephone order option could help. Many folks are hesitant to put their credit card details online. What can you say or do to help? You could be much more flexible with local shoppers. Examples include special discounts, easy re-order mechanisms such as a mail-back form, a telephone contact, or a personal email address.

When processing orders to first-time buyers, it is crucial to communicate all stages. Let them know you have their order as well as when it will ship, who is delivering it, and when it will likely arrive.  The more you can keep them informed, the happier these nervous customers will be.

Repeat buyers

The pandemic has ushered tens of thousands of consumers online. They are not hardened bargain seekers with no loyalty. They are first-time buyers who could become repeat customers if treated well by your company. And we all know that selling to repeat customers is far more profitable than acquiring new ones.

Richard Stubbings
Richard Stubbings
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