How to sell in times of crisis: Strategies to keep revenue up in your e-commerce shop

Let’s start off with some statistics that you’ll surely be able to relate to.

First of all, take a look at this U.S survey COVID – 19: Implications for business, on how every industry is adapting to life during a pandemic.

Now, you’re probably crunching the numbers right this very moment and thinking about how to cut expenses to better adjust to the current situation.

But are you also thinking about ways to keep selling?

If you haven’t gotten there yet, we’re here to give you a hand. 😉

In this post, we’re going to tell you all about strategies to help you keep selling in times of crisis and perhaps even come out in better shape when the worst of it is over and the economy starts to recover.

Ready to face this crisis? 😉

👉 8 sales strategies for times of crisis (and what to bear in mind when implementing them in your online shop)

Let’s face it – it’s hard to keep the same revenue during a situation like this.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to generate some sales or, at least, to get enough of them to help your e-commerce stay afloat until the economic situation gets better.

And for that, the most important question you must ask yourself is this:

“How is the crisis affecting my clients?”

In other words:

  • How have their needs changed compared to a few months ago?
  • To what extent has their income decreased?

If you don’t know this information, your strategies will be much less effective.

✅ Start by figuring out your audience’s current needs 

This will be much clearer after we give you an example.

Imagine you own an electronics store and your main buyer personas are businesses.

Up till now, office technology solutions (such as Wi-Fi repeaters, desktop computers, peripheral devices, etc.) probably accounted for most of your sales.

After the start of the crisis, however, your clients will be more interested in work-from-home products to implement company-wide. For example, they may want cheap laptops they can buy at scale for all their employees.

And this change must be reflected in all aspects of your sales strategy. 

Let’s see how.

✅ 1. Adjust your forecast (and do it several times)

The problem is that a sudden economic crisis (like that caused by COVID-19) makes your initial plans useless.

Your clients’ priorities have changed, so you must adjust the business plan for your online store.

This means you have to rethink:

  • Your marketing actions: This includes the advertising campaigns you’d already designed, the contents of your editorial calendar, etc. (in order to tailor them to your clients’ new needs).
  • Changes in your catalog: In line with the previous example, your priority now is to offer a wider variety of laptops with different prices instead of desktop computers.
  • Your revenue and expenditure forecast: No matter how great your strategy is, a drop in sales is almost inevitable. That’s why it’s important for you to be ready to restructure your expenditures.

Also, don’t forget that crises are ever changing and highly volatile environments, so the period of validity of your forecast decreases.

For example, if you used to make plans six months in advance, you should now cut them to three months (and even then, we recommend updating them frequently).

✅ 2. If you want to get sales, don’t try to sell

This may sound contradictory, but it’s not – as you’ll see.

Right now, launching aggressive sales campaigns and messages may make you look like an opportunistic company (and this has a negative impact on your brand image).

Instead, now is the time to strive to solve your clients’ problems with high-value content.

For example, if you’re targeting companies willing to implement working from home, here are a few ideas for posts to include in your calendar:

  • Best laptops for telecommuting.
  • How to implement teleworking into your business and maintain your productivity.
  • Economic advantages of working from home.

On this website about inbound marketing, you can learn a whole lot more about how to use high-value content to attract users and turn them into customers.

✅ 3. Positioning: quality before price

In times of crisis, many businesses choose to lower their prices as a sales strategy to stay competitive in the market.

However, the problem with this is that you may end up selling below the price of acquisition, which means you’d have a negative return on investment.

So the more sales, the bigger the loss.

A more sustainable strategy in the long run is to use your products’ quality and added value to gain better positioning.

For example, check the next point on the list.

✅ 4. Launch sales-boosting offers

Launching occasional offers is a good way to get a spike in revenue during the crisis so long as they align well with your clients’ needs.

Let’s go back to the example of companies implementing teleworking.

In this case, the easiest thing would be to offer a discount on laptops – but that’s not the only way.

You can also offer them:

If you want more ideas for your sales promotions, you’ll find a few in this article.

✅ 5. Fostering loyalty, more important than ever

Keeping a client’s loyalty is hard under normal circumstances, and it’s even harder during an economic crisis.

That’s why it’s so important to use the quality of your products (and not only their price) to gain better positioning.

Otherwise, somebody will come and offer the same item as you with a lower price. And then your churn rate will skyrocket.

So, instead, do your best to enhance your loyalty programs and keep your existing customers happy.

This way, they’ll keep on buying even at the crisis’ worst. 😉

✅ 6. Make the purchasing process as simple as possible

As you know, an overcomplicated purchasing process is one of the most common reasons customers leave your online store without buying.

And that’s a mistake you can’t afford to make when sales are scarce.

That’s why it’s so important for you to carry out the following steps:

  • Simplify your checkout: Some of the measures to avoid conflicts and get more sales include reducing the amount of information you ask for or allowing purchases without registration. This post tells you all about optimizing your checkout process.
  • Offer credit terms: If you have a high-value product, give your customers the option of paying in installments or deferring the payment.
  • Avoid hidden shipping costs: You must have dealt with this as a consumer at some point – it’s only at the end of the payment gateway that you’re informed that the product you’re about to buy has a (usually quite high) shipping cost. This is annoying for your clients and will result in several abandoned carts.

Focusing on the customer experience of your e-commerce is fundamental to keep selling during the crisis.

But there’s more to it than just that.

✅ 7. Optimize your user experience

This is another frequent reason why you may lose sales.

A customer lands on your page but finds it difficult to navigate or doesn’t even know how to get to the product he or she is after.

This results in a bad user experience, which means this particular client will leave and never come back (let alone buy anything at all).

Here are some guidelines to avoid it:

  • Optimize your page for usability: Show them the path they must follow to get around your website. Your site’s architecture and navigability are some of the most important aspects.
  • Incorporate a (good) search engine: As you know, many users head straight to the search bar when they want a specific product, so it’s an element that can lead to lots of sales when used well.
  • Optimize your product cards: When writing the product cards for your e-commerce, always keep in mind what benefits that product brings to your clients. This will help them figure out if it’s what they’re looking for (which will increase their changes of buying it).

Following these steps will help you keep your conversion rate up, even at the crisis’ worst.

✅ 8. Analyze changes in trends

One last tip…

If you want to get a step ahead of the competition and keep generating sales during the crisis, it’s crucial to be proactive.

This involves anticipating changes in the market as well as in terms of users’ needs.

There are two tools that can help you here:

  • Google Trends: It allows you to analyze the fluctuations in user searches to identify which products will sell better in the next few months. Therefore, you can find out which laptop brand sells best or if companies are starting to buy desktops again. Here’s a detailed tutorial on Google Trends.
  • Your own internal search engine: Analyzing the searches made in your e-commerce is the most reliable way to get to know your users’ needs. In fact, you can even draw quite interesting conclusions from the searches that return no results at all. 😉

However, for this last point, you need a search engine with web analytics data.

If yours doesn’t give you this, you can try Doofinder free for 30 days and see for yourself how useful this information is.

👉 The best strategy to sell in times of crisis…

Is to listen to your clients and offer them exactly what they need.

If you do that and apply the tips we’ve given you, getting through these uncertain times will be much easier for your e-commerce shop. 😉