Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How can ecommerce companies stay successful as we head into a recession

By Andrew Carpenter

Understanding and operating within the world of e-commerce is no easy task. Companies large to small face complex challenges. Since the pandemic hit our shores back in 2020 the world of ecommerce has skyrocketed with online purchases smashing records. We are now facing a difficult situation as global economies feel the shockwave of the pandemic and consumer habits adjusting to rising inflation around the world. So how can ecommerce companies stay successful as we head into a recession?

Provide Value

No matter what your business offers, one of the most important aspects in business is providing value to your customers. Now more than ever this trait is so important to ecommerce businesses around the world. Customers are feeling the effects of lower wages, unemployment, rising costs of living, and instability in the world’s current affairs. Providing value can help cut through these challenges and keep your customers an ally during the storm we all face. This is backed up by a recent survey Fiverr conducted that showed that over half of small and medium-sized retail and ecommerce businesses in the UK are planning to offer steeper discounts this year than last. However, not only are they increasing them, they’re also starting them earlier, with 26% planning holiday promotions two months earlier than in 2021.

Often businesses forget the importance of providing value during the hardships of shrinking economies and risk losing customers through their actions. One example I experienced recently was a company raising its membership cost (something we have all experienced recently). Instead of just charging more, and risk losing a customer the company included an additional sister company membership with the increase. This small gesture made the price increase easier to handle, and their actions kept customers by providing value up and over what they offer. This principle can be applied throughout the ecosystem of your company and offerings to customers.

Improve Your Processes  

All too often I see companies operate with inefficiency that drains resources away from providing value to the customer. Is your customer service streamlined and effective? Is your return scheme easy for customers to understand and more importantly use? As a customer, I have been shocked at how some companies create their own bottlenecks and slow their business to a halt. These inefficiencies cost time, money, and staff resources that will impact the ability to provide savings to your customers. In the face of economic turmoil and increased competitive markets, being able to streamline your process may allow you to provide better pricing, incentives, and an improved buyer experience to your valued customers.

The power of being real

This might sound cliché but being unique, original, and most importantly real, is often overlooked by brands all over the world. We see trends being copied by one company to the next, and as a consumer, we find ourselves not motivated to connect with a brand if we feel the brand is acting disingenuously.

Let’s take a topic like recycling for example. This is a very important crisis topic, yet companies adopt a personality of being “eco-friendly”, when they can actually be some of the largest global polluters. Slapping a logo on your packaging which you source from a cardboard supplier is not being ethical for a cause. It is a choice based on the appearance of being part of a group that consumers would respect, but this opinion is changing because customers are becoming increasingly aware of this and reducing their spends with brands that showcase hypocritical actions.

You need to be more than a cliché to survive and be seen as a leader in these markets. Showing authentic care for the causes you link your brand to is more important than not showing a false or unauthentic idea.

Lush, the well-known cosmetics company, is a great example of being a true leader in the fight for sustainability more than just a simple logo on a box. Lush has removed working with any companies (throughout their entire supply chain) that conduct animal testing. The company is active in both business practices and raises awareness of  the impact of non-eco cosmetics. The success of being authentic is clear throughout all 937 stores worldwide.

These small tips can help guide your company during the hardships that we face with economic instability. If you follow these simple steps, “add value, improve your processes and be authentic to your cause” then you will stay successful. Interested in starting or improving your e-commerce website?