Experts Advise How to Take Advantage of the Crisis and to Develop Businesses
Although e-commerce is growing very fast in the world and in 2019 alone consumers spent nearly 3.5 trillion US dollars on it, preference is still given to traditional trade, especially in Europe. However, these tendencies are strongly shaken by the coronavirus – normal business models are no longer effective, traditional business comes to a standstill, and only those who manage to quickly rearrange processes and exploit alternative channels survive. Experts say that we have all the conditions necessary for these changes, it is important to act now and to take competitive positions in the market.
After the extreme situation was declared in Lithuania and, later, the country was placed under quarantine, the Public Institution Enterprise Lithuania, which was established to promote entrepreneurship and foster export, received a lot of requests on how to relocate its own business to cyberspace. “In the current situation, business is turning to e-commerce. However, business entities understand that they do not have the necessary tools and skills for that purpose. Some entities are able to refocus quickly and start developing their activities in a new way, while others don’t know where to start, don’t even have an idea how to change their business model to make it successful online“, – Daina Kleponė, the Managing Director of the Public Institution “Enterprise Lithuania”, presents a problem that is currently of particular importance for Lithuanian business.
According to Elijus Čivilis, the Vice-Minister of Economy and Innovation, this crisis is a period of transformation. “It is like a tsunami that will wipe out all businesses that will not be inclined to adapt to alternative opportunities. And today business faces a double challenge – how to create demand on new channels and how to retain its own customer”, – says he.
According to the Vice-Minister, the crisis will force both businesses and consumers to change. The current restrictions and challenges will move the entire society to a higher digitization level, they will encourage learning new things and introducing a growing number of innovative solutions to everyday life. After the crisis, consumer behavior will be different – the new things learned will become usual, and the discovered alternatives will take root and will continue to be used.
Creating an online store may take only one day
New technologies are very far advanced, and therefore can offer many opportunities for traditional business in terms of how to digitize and move quickly to a virtual space.
According to Mindaugas Ubartas, the Head of Lithuanian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry Association INFOBALT, creating an online store may take only one day. “Nowadays there are many Lithuanian and foreign platforms, where own website can be created quickly and fairly cheaply – the price ranges from 5 to 15 euros per month. Certain platforms offer pre-integrated functionalities for e-commerce – delivery, payment options”, – explains the specialist.
He notes that in choosing a platform, it is important to know in advance which market is of relevance. If foreign trade is planned, then it is best to choose a foreign platform that offers integrated international payment methods. If the target is a Lithuanian market, then the platforms that are linked to the banks of our country are more suitable.
Own online store vs an e-commerce platform already in place. Which is better?
Some businesses have hitherto been successfully engaged in trade on international marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, etc. In the current period, these businesses are experiencing significant growth. However, is it an attractive sales channel for those who are just starting e-commerce?
“Trading through a well-known electronic marketplace, which is reliable and has its consumers, can often be faster and more efficient than an individual online store. But now the situation is more complicated: the high demand for such platforms resulted in their increased busyness, restrictions apply to the admission of goods to the warehouses. Those, who are starting from zero, would have to deliver the goods to the customers by themselves, and this would slow down the delivery speed and increase costs”, – Vytautas Vorobjovas, e-commerce consultant, identifies the pros and cons of electronic marketplaces.
According to V. Vorobjovas, sometimes simpler tools, that allow reaching the user very quickly, are also suitable for business. He suggests considering using such channels as ad websites, forums, various groups on social networks – to be where the user is.
What should be done to make consumers aware of the transition to e-commerce?
Having an online store is not enough. It is important that consumers are aware of it and buy through it. One challenge is to understand what or who makes up the target audience of the business, and another challenge is how to reach it through the Internet and what advertising tools to choose.
Remigijus Kuliešius, the Head of digital marketing company “Raibec”, also the mentor of “Enterprise Lithuania” Business Mentoring Network, says that advertising tools very much depend on the specifics of the business. But, first of all, each company must refine its business processes, single out its competitive advantage and form a unified communication and marketing strategy that could be measured.
“Businesses make a big mistake when they start using many and varied advertising or publicity tools. In such a case, it is difficult to achieve long-term goals and to grow the business consistently. If, for example, consumers already know about the product, are looking for it, then the advertising tools that will help to find it faster are the most important. If the purchase of the product is in most cases driven by emotions, then other advertising channels that can excite the consumer’s desire to buy are effective”, – says R. Kuliešius.
According to him, now is a good time to strengthen marketing and communication, since, during the crisis, certain businesses, that occupied a large part of the information field, are stopping or reducing their advertising campaigns. This leads to falling prices in various advertising channels. Broader opportunities open up for new businesses and for those that move to cyberspace.
A record of the live stream of the expert discussion “Coronavirus opportunities for online business: Consult Expert” can be found here.