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6 Ways Online Businesses Have Adapted During Coronavirus (With Examples)

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The great thing about having an online business is the ability to adapt and change quickly. And at the moment, there’s a lot of adaptation going on. As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to alter how we live our lives, online businesses have been quick to tweak their operations to reflect our new situation.

If you’re running an online business and struggling to figure out what it should look like during these times, we’re here to help. Over the last few weeks, we’ve collected examples showing how small and medium online businesses have adjusted their operations. While not all of these changes will suit your store, they may spark off an idea you could use.

1. Discount Codes

Motel Brews social media post

Discount codes themed around a situation or event aren’t anything new but done correctly, they can do a lot to make your business seem in touch, and understanding. Berlin micro-brewery, Motel, who sells beer and nitro coffee, offered a 20 percent discount with the code STAYINGHOME. And merchant ROY Kombucha is also giving customers 20 percent off with the code STAYHOMESTAYHEALTHY.

Screenshot from ROY kombucha homepage

Rather than opting for a code like CORONAVIRUS or COVID19, they went for something that would resonate more with their customers, the majority of whom are currently self-isolating.

A code is an incredibly easy way of showing your customers that you understand the current situation and want to treat or reward your customers during this time.

2. Free Shipping

Granted, postal delivery is probably already how your customers received their goods. But with so many customers homebound and brick and mortar stores closing for the foreseeable future, delivery is an even more popular option.

Free shipping is an easy way to give your customers a small bonus on their order and can even sway shoppers to commit to purchasing. Free shipping could be something automatically applied to all orders, or a bonus once a spending threshold is met. If you’re reluctant to offer free shipping full time, try offering it for the next few months instead.

All Birds home page

Free shipping is standard for many dropshipping stores, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t highlight it to your customers. Don’t let visitors get to the checkout process before they learn about your free shipping. Instead, tell them with a banner on the homepage, or on your product pages. All Birds did just that on their European website, reiterating that free delivery was continuing as usual, and that they’d extended their return window.

3. New Product Bundles

Being stuck inside your home all day is a recipe for restlessness, and many merchants are addressing this with specially marketed product bundles or kits.

Screenshot of Malicious Women Co candle making kits

Washington-based merchant Malicious Women Co. took up the challenge of adjusting their offering during the pandemic. While the company usually sells finished candles, they created a special candle making kit for kids they hoped will help customers “contain the chaos” for a few hours. The kits proved so popular that they sold out within days.

Tastillery Hamster Care Pakete page

Germany-based merchant, Tastillery, went a step further and created an entire collection filled with various bundles under the category “Hamster Care Pakete.” The name is a play on the German word for panic buying, “hamsterkäufe” (literally “hamster buying”). They even had a decadent Apocalypse Now Hamster bundle for a mere €5,764.

4. Local Community Focus

Many merchants have also started supporting local groups. This is a fantastic way to raise up others and show how much you care about your community.

Berlin-based coffee roastery, The Barn has not only created a “home office bean box” bundle, but they’re also choosing to support two local hospitals. Customers can donate 10, 30, or 50 cups of coffee, and The Barn then delivers the coffee bean-equivalent to the hospitals at the start of each week. 

Screenshot of The Barn hospital donation page

Meanwhile, New Zealand-based merchant, Thunderpants have chosen to donate one pair of their fairtrade, organic underwear to a nominated “amazing human” for every day that the country is in lockdown. So far, they’ve donated to everyone from a supermarket checkout supervisor to the country’s Prime Minister.

WOW – you guys really showed us some love in the last 48 hours and we are humbled by your generosity in these very crazy…

Posted by Thunderpants NZ on Thursday, March 26, 2020

5. Charity Focus

Many businesses are also choosing to support a particular cause that extends further than their local community. Having a charitable cause attached to your business is useful for showing your company’s social responsibility, and often you can pair up with a cause that complements your product or ethos. 

Harper Wilde is a lingerie store dedicated to “lifting up the girls” in all sense of the phrase. While they always work to educate and help women and girls, now they’re increasing their efforts. They’ve released a limited edition bra with the phrase “in this together” stitched in the band. The company has pledged to give 50 percent of the sales proceeds to No Kid Hungry, an organization that will support kids at risk of missing meals during school closures.

Screenshot of Harper Wilde's charity page

All Birds is another company offering to do something for a group of people, this time, the healthcare community. Initially, the company gave away $500,000 worth of their famously comfortable shoes to healthcare professionals. Since then, they’ve introduced their “We’re Better Together” initiative. This consists of a “buy a pair, give a pair” bundle. Customers can buy a pair for themselves and give one to a healthcare worker. Alternatively, customers can opt just to give a pair without purchasing for themselves.

All Birds 'We're Better Together' product page

Good Krama (yes, that’s “krama” and not “karma” – but also a bit of that too), is another store with a charitable element. They’re selling zero-waste reusable masks with 30 percent of the sales going to the World Health Organization. Each mask is sold at a very affordable price – around $3 per mask, depending on quantity – and made from their cotton fabric off-cuts.

Screenshot of Good Krama's homepage with its zero waste mask offer

6. Adapting Social Feeds

Possibly the most straightforward way stores have adapted to these times is by simply acknowledging the situation on social media. Rather than leaving social media as is, a change in tone or content lets customers know that there are real humans behind the brand.

motel beers social media post

Being a brewery, Motel talked about the craziness of living during the pandemic while also referencing their product on their social media pages. They’ve also taken the opportunity to remind their followers to support small businesses with their use of hashtags.

Meanwhile, shorts store Chubbies has continued to sprinkle its social media feed with memes but has tailored either the content, image, or both to suit the situation. 

View this post on Instagram

For the last several years, we’ve run an Internet wide campaign to find the raddest baddest most epic models the world has ever assembled. This year, we’re using those powers for good and drafting a crew of the best at-home, socially-responsible content creators who want to join the Chubbies Content Team and become influencers. Stay Influencers. So we can make the content the world needs to stay inside. What we’re looking for is funny, original content that entertains the people of Chubster Nation, and encourages them to do the right thing. Winners will be determined by us, but likes, shares, and comments all help. That said- anyone can win. No matter how many followers you have. To apply, post your content on Instagram Feed, Instagram Stories or TikTok using #stayinfluencer, #modelcitizen and @chubbies (@chubbiesshorts on Tiktok). Public accounts required. If you’re using stories use the Stay Home sticker for bonus points AND send your story to @chubbies so we don’t miss ’em. Winner gets a LIFETIME SUPPLY OF CHUBBIES, a $1,000 Post-Isolation Vacation for two, and the Official Title of the Chubbies Stay-Influencer. 2nd – 5th place also get hooked up. Anybody can win. Any gender, any age (>13). Must be a U.S. citizen. Contestants under 18 are welcome to submit, but will require parental consent to receive the travel package. Well, what're you waiting for? Get after it. Check out the link in our bio for additional deets.

A post shared by Chubbies (@chubbies) on

They’ve even launched a whole campaign on their social channels that seeks to find the first Chubbies “stay in-fluencer.” The idea is a “socially-responsible” spinoff from their usual yearly campaign to find product models. Chubbies want user generated content that both entertains and encourages followers to socially distance.

All of the examples shown here have only happened within the last three weeks. They demonstrate just how quickly small and medium online businesses can alter their strategies. Making these changes shows compassion and understanding, and offers customers more relevant products and solutions. While some changes may require investment, others are so small they would take just minutes to implement. 

Do you plan to make changes to your business during this time? Comment your ideas below to share solutions with others in the ecommerce industry.

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