One of the immediate realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic is people are spending a lot more time working and shopping from home. Countries have instituted wide-reaching lockdowns or “shelter in place” restrictions, restaurants are only offering take out food or deliveries, and offices are requiring people to work from home. As a result, the way we interact with others and the way we work has changed dramatically for the near term.
One sector that is already seeing a huge surge in demand is e-commerce companies. Companies like Amazon are among the few that are adding jobs in this difficult time because shopping is largely being handled via online orders and deliveries. As a result, e-commerce companies are busy boosting their inventory, in particular beefing up supplies of household essentials, groceries, and over-the-counter medical items.
As companies work to handle this new reality, automation can provide a lifeline — particularly when it comes to content — which is the life’s blood of any e-commerce business. While it may be challenging to make new hires in the short term, companies can train their existing employees to use technology like content generation software to keep their websites up-to-date, their online product catalogs current, and even use it to reach customers via blogs and social media.
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Here are three things e-commerce companies can do now:
1. Automate Content:
If you work in e-commerce — particularly if you are a large vendor — chances are your online catalogs and item descriptions are going to change frequently to meet the daily influx of new demands. With the world and its market in flux, however, hiring new writers or staffers is unlikely as you’re likely working hard to keep the staff you have.
Hiring workers to enter — or update — content manually is enormously expensive and impossible to scale. Outsourced production of text costs roughly eight cents per word for an original description by an amateur. When you consider the fact that a meaningful product description is between 100 to 500 words, the costs can become astronomical.
Content Automation tools powered by AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) allow online retailers to input data and use it to generate virtually infinite types of content: product descriptions, essential stories, reports and much more. It is also easy to set up and use.
A company simply inputs data and then configures the software to meet a specific type of structure (for example, a description of antibacterial products). Data is formatted into text and then cleaned using software tools. The software needs to work from structured data such as an Excel file to generate text, with line-by-line descriptions of details including product, manufacturer, price, color, and other specifications. It’s so easy to use that even the average person who has no content skills can copy and paste the information into the software and quickly generate quality copy.
Automated content can make an enormous difference in both your workflow and sales. Unique content is also proven to drive the best SEO. And thanks to Automation, you can keep all your content up to date and in sync with the underlying data without any additional effort.
2. Use Existing Staff To Help With Content Needs:
The way you run your business has likely fundamentally changed and will continue to do so in the next few months. One of the smartest moves you can make is to train staff on how they can create and automate content and then allow them to do it from home.
Content Automation software is easy to use; many employees can be trained on the software and use it to create text within hours. Once the staff knows how to do it, make a road map and chart your content priorities. Allow for flexibility and give yourself room to change or pivot depending on news and business conditions.
3. Boost Your Social Media And Use It To Reach Customers:
In the face of a pandemic, many people are spending a lot of time on social media to connect with others who are in similar circumstances and to pass time. It’s important for e-commerce vendors to integrate and use social media for shopping if they aren’t doing so already.
Automated content generation tools can also be used by e-commerce companies to power and boost social media. Many e-commerce retailers shortchange social media, believing it’s easy to find goods on their websites or via major platforms like Amazon. They are failing to harness and use social media wisely to drive customers to make purchases. This is a mistake as well as a missed opportunity.
We live in uncertain times right now. Taking a few simple steps and utilizing new technologies can help companies ride out the storm while protecting their staff, and allow their businesses to emerge intact from these challenging times.