The coronavirus outbreak is in every headline right now as it spreads to every corner of the globe, affecting thousands of people. This highly contagious virus has led to governments shutting down major tourist attractions, placing sporting events behind closed doors and even putting an entire country in lockdown, in Italy’s case.
With more lockdown procedures and self-isolations expected soon, there is expected to be a greater need for e-commerce businesses because fewer people will venture outdoors. If online sales do go beyond sales projections, then an e-commerce website needs to be ready.
Current Impact on SERPs
It’s no surprise that the travel industry has been hit hard by the crisis, with many holidaymakers cancelling bookings to areas affected by the virus. With countries on lockdown, all travel is banned so a holiday to Italy for example, currently isn’t viable. This is already hitting SERPs as Google’s algorithms are reacting to search intent.
Searches such as this will be heavily impacted by global events such as a viral outbreak, so it’s important to take into account when managing location-based pages and search terms.
However, it’s easy to predict that with more people having to isolate and work from home, the purchase of items online will increase.
There has already been a huge spike in searches for health-related items and long-life food with examples of panic buying across several countries. I’m sure you’ve seen people panic buying toilet paper in recent days.
We’re also likely to see an increase in interest in home deliveries. The projected growth for searches of “online food shopping” makes interesting viewing.
It’s a huge spike and one that will continue to grow as the panic over the virus remains.
Impact of Coronavirus on E-Commerce
Turn to online shopping
Some retailers are already seeing an increase in online sales. In China, sales of fresh food on JD.com jumped 215% over a 10-day period. Online grocery store Farmstead have seen their delivery volume increase by 30% over normal levels because people are avoiding crowds. The same report from Retail Dive also points out that luxury brands are likely to suffer most during this period, as people turn their attention to buying essential items. Resale could also be impacted as consumers become more germ-phobic.
Disruption to supply chain
Wuhan, China, where the outbreak took place, is a huge manufacturing hub and the quarantine there has led to a loss of more than 45 manufacturing days. This has caused a ripple effect along the global supply chain with companies being forced to pause production on goods due to a lack of parts, or seek new suppliers elsewhere. With stock shortages likely, this is very damaging to a business.
6 Tips for your E-Commerce Site during the Coronavirus Outbreak
There are things you can do with your e-Commerce site to ensure you can get through the Coronavirus unscathed.
- It’s important for you to rank on the first page of Google for your products, because online searches are increasing. If you are selling essential items that buyers need during the outbreak, it’s best to reoptimise those pages to ensure they’re matching the current search intent.
- Keep in touch with your manufacturer/supplier (if they’re based in China) to ensure you know the latest developments so you can meet demand. If there is a major issue, you may have to look for new suppliers or look to source items locally.
- Be proactive with your communication by letting customers know the latest developments with current stock levels, potential shortages and their current orders, especially if they’re expected to be delayed or cancelled.
- Adjust messaging on marketing and advertising to match buying habits during the outbreak – if you’re a travel company, aggressively marketing holidays at this point is going to do more harm to your brand than good.
- With lower cash flow, you must consider what you’re spending on advertising and if you’re still getting the margin, cost per click and cost per acquisition. Target different keywords and other channels that don’t have high acquisition costs to better utilise your budget.
- Ensure your E-Commerce and marketing teams can communicate remotely if they’re forced to work from home. If you rely on talking to clients during your sales process, then ensuring communication is possible will keep things moving forward.
If you need support with your e-commerce website to correctly target those during any worldwide event or threat, the experienced team at Ricemedia can ensure you’re prepared for anything. With two decades of experience in SEO, PPC and Paid Social, we’re perfectly positioned to provide you with the guidance needed all year round. Get in touch with us today.