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OpenCart and Coronavirus (COVID-19) survival guide

OpenCart and Coronavirus (COVID-19) survival guide

First of all, I hope this finds you safe & healthy.

I am writing this blog post form home, from where I entered with my family in voluntary isolation three weeks ago. I've been in front of my laptop for twelve hours now, trying to shape my ideas. My kid is watching cartoons, just so I can focus on this text, or he won't let me.


I know I should have come up with another topic, about improving our services for optimizing the speed of your OpenCart store. We have now a lot of new performant techniques for that.

I'm still working on it, only I decided to write these lines in the meantime.

I received in the last few days more messages, through all the possible channels, that sounded like:

  • "Is a new crisis coming?"
  • "How we adapt our businesses?"
  • "Should we change things in business?"
  • "We closed our activity, what we can do about it?"
  • "We should still advertise our products?"
  • "How to promote our products in this period?"
  • "Can you please give us some business advice?"
  • "How long do you think this COVID-19 thing lasts?"

I didn't really want to write about it, especially since there are too many voices talking about this subject and it’s on everyone's lips and ears at the same time. But all the messages from you have made me start a series of practical articles to help everyone from the OpenCart eco-system in this crisis.

IS A NEW CRISIS COMING?

There is a difficult time in the evolution of the markets. An epidemiological crisis of 3-5 months is expected, followed by an economic crisis, which we hope will be as short as possible, but if the markets fall too much in the next period, then it can take two years to return to the growth before the crisis.

On eCommerce, some categories of products will decrease, but we believe that overall, we will see a slight increase, especially now with everyone sitting at home and after passing the psychological effect of “fighting or running”, in which emotional blockage, paralysis decision-making, the abundance of information are part of our way of fighting something that threatens our survival.

World society is based on consumption and soon you will see exhortations from politicians for the people to start consuming again so that countries' economies recover faster.

Orders for basic products and certain consumables will increase in the next period.

And brick and mortar stores will migrate to online as their offline activity will decrease considerably. And this can be good news for you because now you can increase the recurrence of orders by loyalizing your customers.

Just so you know: people will continue to buy the products they need online.

Our behavior as customers changes completely, because people's needs are more for basic products, and it also depends on the price of the product. But this will change very soon after the panic will pass.

Now it's not like in 2009 when there was a recession. People have money now, just for the moment they have their eyes on the TV and they do nothing else being too scared.

But, as I said before, this will pass very soon and you will need to come with solutions and adapt to customers' new needs. Many changes in the crisis can also mean many business opportunities.

Keep in mind that many people will make their first purchase on an e-commerce store in the next period (till now that kind of people bought only from offline stores).

WHAT INDUSTRIES ARE RISING AND WHICH ARE FALLING?

It is clear that some industries have already suffered a decline: travel, auto, fashion, beauty, real estate, insurance, construction, and products like gadgets, smartwatches, perfumes, and outdoor products. Some also dropped by 20-35%, or maybe 40%.

But at the same time, many industries, product categories or specific products are growing: food, healthcare, media, finance, disinfectant, personal hygiene and care, household cleaning products, air purifiers, animal care products, books, toys, office, offices, office accessories, laptops, printers, TVs, cooking appliances, trimming machines, epilators, hairdryers, fitness equipment, CBD products, religious accessories, DIY products.

You should look with Google Trends to see which products are most searched now on your niche and which are no longer on-trend.

You can also search for additional products, such as accessories for your main products, to identify new business opportunities. And, along with the data in your OpenCart reports and Google Analytics reports, you can make informed decisions.

I strongly recommend you to compare the sales of March last year with those of March this year and see the trend. Even though sales have fallen during this period, sales increased compared to the same month last year?

For example, we have clients that are growing in fashion, beauty, and cosmetics during this period.

Everyone needs a laptop or a PC, as well as a printer. We all need tools so we can work from home. Stores that sell this kind of product should step up promotion to meet the needs of customers.

HOW WE ADAPT OUR BUSINESSES TO THIS CRISIS?

You should prepare your business for the next 3-5 months, because, after this period, things will get into new normality (not back to normal, as the world will redefine its own values and will create the new normality).

Every economic crisis is practically a moment of reinvention and modulation. Some of you will come out better after this crisis, others will do less well, but the most won will be the ones who will know how to adapt.

So, keep your team closer than ever and seek solutions together with them. You will see the results coming soon.

I think now is a great time for each of us to show our leadership skills. You have valuable people and together you can find solutions to adapt to the market, to the needs of your clients and to the possibilities you have. If you manage to do this, in the end, you’ll be stronger than ever and with a more united team.

If you, unfortunately, had to close business or have to close soon because there are no solutions for you, I think now is a situation where you can learn a lot. It is an opportunity to study, to make plans, to understand the consumer better, to see what has changed after this crisis.

Do an exercise in empathy. Be with your clients and show them that you care about them during this time. Because if you are close to them then you will win long-term.


After this period you will win because the world is at home, they want to follow you, they want to be with you, they want to see your solutions. If you’ll have solutions for your clients, they will remember after this period, from who received the best solutions and who are the ones who cared about them. People will remember you and we’ll buy from you when this whole thing is over.

CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE US SOME BUSINESS ADVICE?

Well, I will write a couple of articles in the next period in order to try to help you with practical ideas.

But, until then, here are some fast, most important advice:

  • Ask your clients what they need during this time.
    What would help them these days, what they would most appreciate receiving from you? And also, what they will not want in this period. All you have to do is adapt to what they say. So, respond to your clients' needs.

  • Communicate with your clients about the prevention and safety measures you take.

  • Answer your clients as quickly as you can over the phone, chat, email or social media and try to be empathetic with them and help. Then the sale will come.

  • Be transparent and communicate continuously with your clients. Don’t forget: communicate, communicate, communicate!

  • Be flexible, take quick and focused action on the loyalty of your customers.

  • Don't be too panicked, or you won't be able to adapt. A little stress at first can be beneficial and can help you move in the right direction, but too much stress leads to mental paralysis and lips of action.

  • The great navigators of the world have sailed through murky waters, not through smooth waters. Now you will see your entrepreneurial spirit and ability to be a good leader.

  • Do not speculate prices on products or consumers will be penalized you in the long term.

  • Orders for certain product categories will increase, you can find transformation opportunities.

  • Increase stocks where you expect demand will increase or where you think manufacturers will be late with products.

  • Talk to suppliers to reduce the cost of purchase. This way you can offer a better price to your customers so that they can afford to purchase your product during this period.

  • Make partnerships with new manufacturers, preferably local. It is good to have more sources of supply where possible.

  • Talk to the manufacturers daily to adapt the need for the products.

  • Talk to couriers to wear protective gloves and masks and often disinfect transportation vehicles and packages, or do it if you do delivery.

  • Pay attention to the product categories as soon as the products are sold to estimate stock recovery times.

  • Cash is king! If you have categories of products that do not sell make bigger promotions to get rid of stock and to have cash. Cash and positive cash flow are much more important now. I’m repeating myself: CASH is KING now!

  • Promote working from home if is possible for you.

  • Think of a daily plan and a weekly plan, but at the same time be very flexible depending on what happens in the market.

  • Make a Time to First Byte/server speed audit! If you are selling big time you need to have a fast store. And if you don't have many sales right now you need to be prepared for the time that things will get back to normal, and what's the best period to do rather this time?

  • Make a Google Page Speed audit. Solving these problems will make your clients happier when navigating your site.

  • Make a UX audit for your OpenCart store. User experience matters a lot. More than most people can realize. Your site design should just get out of the way and help people buy. Less is more. If you have to explain it, then is bad.

  • Make a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) audit for your store pages.

  • Make a Facebook Ads audit for all the ads you made till now, the same for other ad platforms, like Google, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and others.

  • Create new content and update existing content. Show people how to use your products by creating blog posts, tutorials, and videos. Show your customers and potential customers how your products will help them.

By the way, our Premium Members benefits of FREE audits for TTFB, Google Page Speed, UX, and CRO. And in the near future, we want to expand these benefits to FB Ads and Google Ads, and other social promotion channels.

In the coming days, I will launch a series of articles that will go into detail on each domain that may be of use to you in the coming period, and probably in any other future crisis, as this will most certainly not be the last.

As there have been at least 5 crises in the last 40 years. That's why there are global crises and theories of cyclicity.

Most probably some of the subjects will be regarding:

  • measures that you can implement fast for your business
  • statistics about industries that go up and down
  • what measures to take for your employees
  • what you can to do personally to keep your tone and productivity
  • to make or not marketing? and if yes how to do it better?
  • how to communicate with your clients during this period
  • how to use Google Trends and other tools to see which products or needs are on trend
  • how to make your client's avatar in case you haven't already
  • practical advice on different industries
  • how to work from home with Childs
  • and other subjects that will arise during the next period

Use energy to create, do not consume it with negative news and all kinds of conspiracy theories on social networks. Work on your products, on customer relationships, on customer care, don't forget about marketing. Be a champion in this period!

The world economy relies on you to move the engines, to produce, to find the new needs of the customers. You need to change the messages and approaches for the way you sell the products that address same needs of the people as until now. Convince them to buy, to consume!

So, try to stay safe, read a book instead of watching too much news on TV and try to not drink too much Corona this days :)

Andrà Tutto Bene / Everything will be fine,
Catalin

PS: In the end, after reading the article, I ask you to please tell me your situation, your perception, what you think is going to happen. I'm still here for you.

PPS: Please tell me what do you need. How we can help you?

Maybe you need some ideas or advice for your business or something else. Please tell me and we’ll try to help you.

PPPS: In order to help you in this period we have a special offer for Time to First Byte (TTFB) audit and 1 Year Premium Membership, this is probably the best offer that can be, better than Black Friday I think.

It will be available for a limited period of time because it contains a lot of FREE services (audits) along with extensions and it’s very time consuming for our team, that’s why we can’t have it for a longer period.

OCX Team

Since 2010 we exclusively focused on OpenCart platform. We know it from A to Z, being able to resolve any challenge might raise concerning the development of your ecommerce store.