Posted Apr 2, 2020 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team

Communicating with Customers in the Midst of COVID-19

While isolation and quarantine might sound a little scary, they’re actually great protections, preventing the public from exposure to people who have or may have encountered an infectious disease. But as valuable as these two things have become, it hasn’t stopped staying home from negatively impacting small businesses around the world. As a result, many businesses have been quickly moving online as an alternative to their in-person operations.

To make this process a little easier, Ecwid E-commerce is publishing a series of articles with business tips for navigating our new COVID-19 world. In this article, you’ll learn how to build messaging that reassures customers, while also encouraging them to continue supporting your business during difficult times.

Also in the series:

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Answer Common Concerns

Your customers may have different concerns, but their own safety is probably #1. According to the FDA, there’s no current evidence to support the transmission of the virus from food packaging. However, a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has revealed that COVID-19 can be stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. So if you operate a business and sell physical products, you must clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Also, as simple as it sounds, you must educate your employees to wash their hands and make sure they follow guidelines. You see how many people do not stay at home even after the official quarantine is announced in some countries. There’s no law that would regulate washing hands, so it’s your responsibility to ensure your employees follow the recommendations. And you can make it fun, too! For example, check out this service that creates an instruction for washing hands using the lyrics of your favorite songs.

Finally, exclude direct hand-off: instead, offer curbside pickup (put orders in the trunk of your customer’s car to avoid contact) or if you have a delivery, leave the orders at the doorstep.

Although the risk of getting COVID-19 from food and product-packaging is considered low, you can take a cue from Amazon and instruct them to keep their packages in the garage for a while before opening, if possible, or dispose of packaging as soon as possible and wash their hands right away.

Proactively inform your customers that you’re taking all the necessary precautions — don’t wait till they ask you.

If you’re like us, you could probably do with a break from pandemic news. But make a point to continue monitoring COVID-19 updates daily to stay on top of the latest regulations:

Don’t just read anything with COVID-19 in the title — limit your sources of information to official websites you can trust.

Announce Changes to Store Policies

Taking every precaution to protect yourself and your customers might require a little extra time, which means it could take longer than usual to fulfill orders. If you make your products yourself, your manufacturers could also run low on materials or struggle to get resources across closed borders, causing delays or limited availability. It’s really hard to predict how supply chains will change in the near future, but it’s important to keep your customers up-to-date.

Don’t forget to announce:

  • New store hours or temporary closures
  • New shipping or curbside pickup options
  • Paid days off for employees due to illness or closure
  • Moving from cash to card or digital payments etc.

Ecwid store Brewrevolution is adapting to changes

Tools you can use to inform your customers fast:

  • Promo bar/popup tool on your website
  • Email marketing platforms like MailChimp to send newsletters
  • A business phone number to send SMS.

Be honest about your current situation. Consumers value transparency — especially now.

Share Support Plans for Customers

You might want to take extra steps to adapt to changing consumer behaviors. Right now, customers are developing new buying habits that will continue long after COVID-19 has passed. Don’t miss this moment to adapt.

Here are some good support announcements that will help to retain existing customers while also encouraging new ones:

  • Pauses or refunds for customer memberships that were interrupted
  • Special discounts, gifts with purchase, gift cards, or free shipping.

An Ecwid store The Bavarian Lodge offers discounts

Find New Ways to Engage with Customers

With most people staying at home these days, customers expect that many local businesses will temporarily shut down or close. You need to act now to show them you’re still open for business, even if your physical location has ceased operating for the time being.

Customers will be using social media now more than ever to connect with friends and brands, so get visible on the popular platforms:

  • If you haven’t already, set up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media platform that is relevant to your business
  • Post frequently: highlight your products, share updates, and post changes to your business operations
  • Add a live chat to your ecommerce site to quickly respond to customer requests
  • Host live stream events to engage your audience. For example, if you own a bar, selling your beverages online is a minimum, but you can also keep the experience of sharing a drink with friends by hosting an online bar.

Remind Customers of Ways They Can Support You

Supporting small businesses is crucial to the success of small business owners and our world’s economies as a whole. It’s not bad to ask for help. Consider sending a newsletter to your customer base with ways they can contribute:

  • Invite them to purchase gift cards for future use
  • Create a virtual tip jar and ask your customers to tip for employees who are out of work
  • Encourage customers to share social content from you and other local businesses. It can also be easier with a branded hashtag.

Tell Us How You’re Doing

COVID-19 has changed our world forever, and you might be facing unique challenges of your own depending on your country, laws, industry, and the size of your business. Share your story in the comments to get support from the Ecwid team and other business owners like you.

About the author
Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music, and home-cooked food.
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