E-commerce in a post-COVID world

February 7, 2020
Lily-Rae Hewitt Jasilek

It’s been nearly four months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. In this time, the retail space as we know it has had to completely evolve. Rapid advancements in technology mean online consumers now have the power to dictate the rules and control their relationships with brands. A huge 56% of online customers expect to find whatever they need from a company in three clicks or less, so it’s no surprise that today’s customers are not only demanding speedy personalised customer experiences, but they are also moving away from in-person retail outlets and onto online channels.

This may seem like a nerve-wracking thought for some, but you are not alone. Your customers are trying their best to adapt to strange times without a lot of footholds and shifting their behaviour as a result. As a business owner, you are facing much of the same uncertainty, while trying to support your customers’ needs and your own. Instead of dwelling on the damage, and uncertainty, consider moving your business online so you survive and thrive in these tough economic times.

COVID-19 will forever change retailing, and its initial impact on e-Commerce is creating challenges to online selling & service no one could've imagined back in January. Millions of online customers changing their behaviour at the same time to opt for more time saving and convenience puts a considerable strain on e-commerce and online retailers today. How they choose to react will surely define the future of e-commerce.

As people are coming to terms with the realities of our interconnected world and how difficult it is to temporarily separate those connections to others, to say that we are living in unprecedented times feels like an understatement. For many, the only easily actionable and applicable tactics are to move their business online when offline channels are temporarily disabled.

Take Bugaboo, for example, a Dutch design company that makes parental products such as pushchairs for infants and toddlers. Facing an immediate problem when the pandemic hit, as 90% of the company’s sales were through retail outlets, pivoting to digital seemed the only way out. In becoming an e-commerce outlet overnight, website traffic and sales went through the roof, part of that was also due to recreating the in-store experience online, by creating demonstration videos on YouTube and Instagram Live, featuring a live demo and Q&A with the engineer who designed its new top range Fox 2 model.

Shoppers have adjusted to the new normal and are finding ways to keep occupied and productive during an uncertain time period. They spent last month building their home gyms, finding new forms of entertainment, taking extra care of their pets, and starting DIY projects at home.

Looking at order count growth, April saw Hardware, Sporting Goods and Vehicles growing the most year-over-year, followed by Business and Industrial, and Arts and Entertainment. Which does not display much change in trends from the months before, however, the purchases are occurring solely online which demonstrates real change.

Consumers are more motivated than ever to stay home and shop from their sofa’s, creating the ideal market conditions for businesses to fast-track, test, and launch new experience-driven mobile apps, sites, and touchpoints across platforms.

The bold and ambitious companies that embrace the new normal and take timely action can capture their customer’s desires and emerge after the crisis as market leaders. Action requires the courage to reinvent your business model and invest in times of high uncertainty.

Depending on your industry and audience, your response to the ever-evolving situation will change. You know your customers better than anyone. We hope this resource can help you understand some of the ways their behaviours are changing, so you can continue to serve them as best you can.

One thing is for sure: brands that provide a seamless, informative online experience are poised to succeed during this challenging time.

For top tips on getting your business online, check out this article of ours: ‘Getting businesses back on their feet, in the new normal’.

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