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Coronavirus focus: Should your business be embracing ecommerce?

online-seller Coronavirus focus: Should your business be embracing ecommerce?
The coronavirus crisis has had a damaging impact on businesses the world over, and traditional brick and mortar stores which rely on footfall for survival have been put under immense pressure.

While online shopping has been trending upwards for years, the pandemic has expedited its ascendency and introduced new audiences to ecommerce.

In a recent survey by ecommerce platform vendor PFS Web Inc.40% of respondents said that they had shopped on a website for the first time during the crisis, and 45% said they would continue shopping on that site as a result of a positive experience.

Many businesses with an existing online presence have sought to capitalise on the shifting landscape of ecommerce and have made adjustments to their storefronts, offerings and marketing accordingly, while other companies who have never sold online before have been testing the waters for the first time.

A number of our customers have expressed their intention to transition some of their operations online.

According to our Chief Treasury Analyst Phil McHugh: “Businesses are clearly seeing the benefit of adapting to include online sales as to meet consumer demand that is growing online, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this drive.”

If your business has limited experience in ecommerce, how can you prepare it for a post-Covid-19 world?

Look to marketplace platforms

One of the quickest ways to pivot your business to generating online revenue, particularly if you run a retail business, is to utilise pre-existing platforms.

Marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon are great entry points, allowing you to begin listing and selling items online almost immediately.

Additionally these sites also generate massive amounts of traffic every day, not only saving you time on promoting your own store but exposing your products to a huge new audience of potential customers.

However, the sheer number of listings on these marketplaces can make it difficult for yours to stand out. Fortunately, we have a number of handy guides explaining how you can maximise sales by really making your listings stand out.

Creating your own website

In addition to listing items on marketplaces, you may want to think about creating your own website to sell your products (if you don’t have one already). This is particularly important if you’re thinking about maintaining an online presence even once things return to ‘normal’.

If you have no existing site to work with services like Shopify or Squarespace provide ready-made website templates which can be easily customised for your needs and come complete with in-built store functionality.

Alternatively, you could hire a web developer to design a bespoke site for your business. This is likely to be a more expensive option, but will allow the site to be tailored to your exact specifications.

For more information on how to create your own online store read this guide.

Third-party shipping

Another key consideration when it comes to selling online is delivery.

Courier services can prove invaluable to independent businesses in this area as they allow you to avoid the extra staffing cost and resources which would otherwise be necessary.

There are also of plenty of specialist courier services which cater specifically for different business types/sectors, such as Uber Eats or Just Eat, which helped many restaurants stay open with a takeaway service during the pandemic.

If you decide to stick with selling through established marketplaces it’s well worth exploring options like Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). Using FBA means Amazon will store your products and handle the shipping, for a nominal fee.

There are plenty of services on offer, so be sure to spend some time shopping around for the best deal.

Making your presence known

Getting your business online and operational is only half the battle, you’ve also got to attract consumers and ensure existing customers are aware of your new online venture.

Even if they weren’t previously embracing ecommerce most businesses already have an online presence through social media channels.

Leveraging these platforms is a great way to get the word out to new customers and engage with existing customers who may have queries about your new online system.

Get creative

Of course, not every business can simply switch to selling items online. Without a physical product to sell, you may need to get creative about how your business can successfully transition online.

The coronavirus crisis has forced a lot of companies to have a serious rethink over the past few months. Many traditional businesses which appeared incompatible with the online landscape just a few short months ago are now thriving.

For instance, if you’re selling a service such as personal training or baking classes, is this something you could do via live streaming? Look at ways your business can still add value to customers in a remote environment and adapt accordingly.

Maximising returns on international orders

Embracing ecommerce also means opening your business up to a whole host of new international customers.
However, this also requires you find a way to repatriate your earnings from international purchases.

While this can be done through your bank, using a specialist currency provider is more cost-effective and convenient.

Currencies Direct, for example, offer a range of tailored FX and international payment services specifically designed to help online sellers protect their profit and maximise their returns.

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch with our team on [email protected] or call +44 (0) 20 7847 9400.
The world after coronavirus is likely to be a very different place to the world at the start of 2020 in many ways – with how consumers shop being just one of many changes businesses will need to adapt to.

However, with planning, persistence and the support of specialists in areas like shipping and currency, your company can embrace ecommerce and be prepared for the future.
Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.

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