The effects of Coronavirus are forcing the majority of companies to temporarily change the way they do business. In times like these, your website plays a crucial role. It’s one area of your business that can remain in operation and, with so many people confined to their homes, it’s the main way customers can connect with your company. However, to meet the needs of your business and your customers, you may also need to make changes to your website. Here are five updates you might want to consider.
1. Update users about the impact on your business
It is highly likely that the levels of service your company offers will have changed because of Coronavirus. You may have difficulty sourcing products, have staff in self-isolation, work from home technology issues and various other challenges. You may even have had your physical premises compulsorily closed.
While customers are aware that businesses, in general, have been affected, they cannot know the specific impact on individual companies or how things change on a day to day basis. The place to let them know is your website and, ideally, you need to put this information on your homepage, a pop-up or a prominent link on all pages to a specially created Coronavirus page.
Information you might need to display includes:
- Reduced opening times or days
- Delays in delivery
- Delays in responding to queries
- Changes in products being sold
- Restrictions on purchasing (e.g. limiting the number of any item a customer can buy)
- Limitations on people allowed in physical premises
- Social distancing measures introduced in physical premises
- Any services which have temporarily ceased
- How cancellations, returns and refunds will be handled
2. Showcase new initiatives
Although companies are facing challenges and restrictions, many of them are going out of their way to offer alternative services and to help those most in need. Again, you should use your website to communicate these initiatives to visitors. These might include:
- Measures to help the over 70s, those at high risk and key workers, such as priority shopping hours or deliveries.
- Any new services you have begun to offer, such as live chat instead of telephone customer service and online shopping and delivery instead of shopping in-store.
3. Explain how you are looking after employees
Many businesses are using their websites to make it clear to their customers how they are looking after their employees. This is done to help customers understand how Coronavirus is impacting company operations and to highlight that the companies are putting employee welfare above profits. The latter is important as social media criticism of poor employee treatment can worsen already damaged sales. Things to include here are:
- Allowing staff time off to care for others
- Reduced hours
- Overtime payments
- Work from home introduced where feasible
- Social distancing introduced on-site
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) issued to all who need it
- Where redeployment or furloughing has been used
While it may seem that these things aren’t relevant for customers to know, today’s ethical shoppers are much more likely to stay loyal to ethical businesses. This information can be important for brand reputation and customer retention.
4. Back end tweaks
It is not just the front end of your website that will need updating, there may be backend changes required too. If you sell online and find products hard to procure, you may have to regularly update your list of unavailable products so that you aren’t left with a string of complaining customers. However, clever stores are offering alternative products on these web pages and these products are selling well as customers, now used to scarcity, are willing to settle for second choice.
You may also have to adjust the shipping times on your store. With more people shopping online, shipping companies are under increased strain to deliver unprecedented numbers of items while facing their own issues with staff shortages. You may find shipping times will need regularly changing. Shipping costs may fluctuate, too, and this could mean making changes to your pricing.
The role of email will become more important during the Coronavirus lockdown, not just as a way to communicate important information to your customers but as an essential and cost-effective way to keep marketing your products and services during a period of economic turmoil. If you haven’t considered trying to grow a substantial email list, now is the time to take the plunge. There are plenty of free plugins that provide subscription boxes and pop-ups, list managers and email templates to help you sign people up to receive news, updates and promotions.
5. Update hosting to meet increased demand
Internet usage has rocketed during the lockdown as more people turn to the internet to buy products and services. This means many websites are seeing a surge in visitor numbers and an increase in online sales. To make sure your website can handle such potential growth, you will also have to consider whether your current hosting solution provides you with the resources you need, e.g. bandwidth, storage, CPU and RAM. If it doesn’t, you risk your website becoming slow or even going offline, both of which can seriously impact sales and online reputation.
During the Coronavirus lockdown, your website will be a vital part of your business, enabling you to keep communicating with and selling to customers stuck in their homes. Updating your website in the ways mentioned here can help give your business the edge it needs to keep going through this difficult time.
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