March 27, 2020
Shopify shuts down over 4,500 coronavirus websites
Shopify, the popular eCommerce platform, has shut down over 4,500 websites related to the coronavirus.
New eCommerce sites that use Shopify’s services are filled with wildly exaggerated claims about virus-fighting products that may not even exist.
The New York Times analyzed registrations with Shopify, whose simple registration process seems to have been exploited by certain retailers. The New York Times found that there were nearly 500 new sites with names that include “corona” or “covid”. They were all registered over the past two months.
One of the new sites marketed an “oxygen concentration” machine for $3,080. Another had the Corona Necklace Air Purifier, which, for $59, claimed to provide “all-day protection”. A third offered a $299 pill that promised “antiviral protection” for 30 days, and sites such as CoronavirusGetHelp.com were marketing home test kits ranging from $29.99 to $79, none of which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Amy Hufft, a Shopify spokeswoman, recently announced that the company shut down more than 4,500 sites related to the virus. She said that sites that did not back up the medical claims they made were suspended from the platform. By Monday, nearly all of the sites identified by The New York Times had been removed.
“Our teams continue to actively review the COVID-19 related products and businesses, and stores that violate our policies will be immediately taken down,” she said in an email.
‘Back-in-stock’ automations for managing supply and demand issues
It is still unknown whether the coronavirus pandemic will end soon. This uncertainty, along with the crisis itself, challenges merchants in two ways.
Some businesses that depend on Chinese manufacturers have had to extend their deliveries up to 90 days. Others were unprepared for the rise in demand for specific items, including disinfectants, cleaning products, medical supplies, and other health-related goods. In fact, the hand sanitizer brand Touchland has a waitlist with over 10,000 names on it. Many businesses are dealing with both issues.
Meanwhile, marketers are under pressure because of the logistical challenges. While they won’t have every option available to you at the moment, there are certain marketing strategies you can implement to make supply and demand concerns more manageable in the interim.
Back-in-stock updates are a good example of this. Inventory-related emails keep the current and potential customers clued-in; this will help on multiple fronts. These updates provide transparency, gauge intent, and give shoppers peace of mind.
When you’re dealing with uncertain inventory, the back-in-stock automation is a no-brainer – especially when the alternatives are blasting availability to an unsegmented list or providing no updates at all.
When shoppers have the option to sign up for restock notifications, it creates a more satisfactory experience. The notifications mean that customers don’t have to check back constantly or search for the product elsewhere.
In this recent Klaviyo article you can learn how to implement a back-in-stock strategy and set up email flows. The post also offers insight into what lies ahead for eCommerce businesses who are dealing with the repercussions of coronavirus. Take a look at Klayvio’s other suggested strategies for dealing with the crisis in their coronavirus series.
The latest data and how to respond to the sudden changes
In the day-to-day uncertainty that we are currently facing, many businesses rely on the latest news and information. To help eCommerce businesses navigate these unpredictable times, Common Thread has put together this valuable article.
They post daily updates in the following three sections:
- Data: Coronavirus’ Impact on Ecommerce
- Strategy: Hypotheses to Test and Practical Tactics
- Resources: Assistance, Shipping & Fulfillment, and News
Things are changing fast. This regularly updated thread is a great way to stay on top of things through some of the best sources in the industry, such as eCommerceFuel, Shopify Plus’ Facebook Community, LeanLuxe, and 2PM’s Polymathic.
Shipping and delivery of online orders during the outbreak
Retailers and carriers are dealing with surges in online orders – particularly of household goods and consumables – as 57% of consumers alter their day-to-day activities to be as “contactless” as possible.
Consumers are staying home to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But they still need to eat, drink, and engage in other essential daily routines. That’s putting a big strain on (while also bringing big business to) some shipping carriers and online merchants.
With anxiety at an all-time high, wine is now considered an essential for many consumers. The online wine merchant Wine Insiders is experiencing orders similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday: “We’re absolutely seeing a spike in demand, with a specific geographic focus from the Western states,” the CEO Zac Brandenberg says.
So far, Wine Insiders has been able to keep up with the demand, according to Brandenberg. But other retailers of food and household products are feeling the strain of increased demand and have fallen behind.
Retailers feel the strain of increased online orders
Food and household goods retailer Boxed Wholesale, sent an email to their customers on March 13, informing them of delivery delays.
“With the recent surge in orders, we are seeing delays in shipments,” the email stated. “Our fulfillment center teammates are working day and night to make sure your order goes out as fast as possible. As always, we’ll email you with delivery timing, so you’ll know when to expect your order.”
Like with many other retailers, disinfectants, paper goods, and hand sanitizers are regularly selling out and this is placing order limits on certain popular products. “This helps make sure that as many of our customers as possible have access to these limited availability items,” the note read.
Several grocers, including Albertsons Cos. and The Kroger Co., are hiring employees to fulfill online orders, while Walmart Inc. is recruiting delivery drivers, according to several reports. Albertsons has also been inviting pharmacy customers to promote their prescription delivery service in an effort to discourage customers from collecting their medication in stores.
Amazon.com Inc. is hiring 100,000 workers and says the company will invest more than $350 million globally and increase pay by $2.00 an hour in the U.S. for employees and contractors who work in fulfillment centers, transportation operations, stores, or for those making deliveries so that others can remain at home.
Read the full article on Digital Commerce 360. It’s packed with useful statistics that will hopefully shape your strategy for the upcoming period, regardless of the business you are in.
The perfect combo: Email marketing and SMS
A recent Forbes article explains the benefits of combining email marketing with SMS marketing. At Essence of Email, we have seen some impressive results for our client’s accounts when combining these two.
Additionally, using SMS to spread the information during this critical period could be a new tactic through which organizations stay connected with their customers.
Here are the benefits of combining email and SMS in a multichannel marketing program; you can read the full article here.
Email and SMS are both channels that are designed to succeed in a mobile-first world. SMS, for obvious reasons, has always relied on the mobile device for delivery, while email campaigns had to adapt to the different user experience connected with the handheld screen. Marketers have learned how to optimize email content for mobile screens with great success, making it one of the most effective mobile marketing channels.
As a result, combining email and SMS marketing can help advertisers take advantage of the mobile channel and easily engage with consumers with marketing messages.
Email and SMS marketing are both direct-response-focused channels.
The metrics make it easier for marketers to not only evaluate the performance of each channel separately, but also to combine them to piece together a complete story about audience engagement and response to the overall campaign.
The way both SMS and email lists can be segmented into well-defined target audience groups makes it even easier to closely evaluate performance and return on investment (ROI) at the audience level. This level of campaign evaluation can be more challenging in other channels, making the combination of email and SMS arguably the most trackable and easily evaluated option for marketers.
Sending Time And Frequency
Since both email and SMS share this level of control, it is also possible to sync the delivery of the two channels. This allows advertisers to send follow-up messages in one channel to augment the performance of the other (for example, an email campaign is accompanied by an even more timely SMS campaign).
The ability to plan the timing of a campaign has always been a great advantage for direct marketers, ever since the time of direct mail. But with SMS and email, the immediacy of delivery and shorter response window is a tremendous advantage for marketers wanting to exert more control over the timing of their message delivery.
Email has consistently proven to be one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels available. While individual campaign performance obviously varies, there has been a fairly long-standing benchmark metric of a $42 return on every $1 spent in email marketing.
The cost-effectiveness of these two channels isn’t driven simply by lower execution costs. In each case, the channels typically perform extremely well in driving customer engagement. Couple higher engagement and response rates with the lower upfront costs, and these channels can be huge ROI winners when executed properly. It also makes it logical to employ both channels together in a marketing strategy where the goal is to maximize reach, engagement, and ultimately results at a reasonable and manageable cost.
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