COVID-19 is without a doubt, one of the most epoch making events of this decade, let alone 2020. A pandemic of such a large scale will naturally have consequences that may outlive the pandemic itself. As the entire world braces for all the changes it has brought and will bring in our daily lives, businesses too are getting ready to get back on their feet, albeit with some precautionary measures.
Pandemic Impacts on eCommerce Retailers
As more and more retail stores undergo mandatory restrictions for in-person shopping, eCommerce sites are experiencing a surge in traﬃc, and customers are generally shifting from brick and mortar to online shopping. As per the latest survey conducted by a leading research company Technomic, a staggering 32% of the surveyed working force has inhibitions about leaving their homes, and as much as 52% have shown reluctance to visit places that are often crowded. This has resulted in some brands having to fine tune their marketing campaigns as per the latest trends.
Changes in Consumer Shopping Preferences
As news of COVID-19 took center stage and stay-at-home orders were enforced, shoppers responded by stocking up. They purchased household essentials like bread and toilet paper and medical supplies like masks and hand sanitizers. Both retail & online stores were struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing demand. According to Quantum Metric, online conversion rates surged 8% in February alone, depicting a level of shopping urgency normally seen during Cyber Mondays. While stay-at-home orders will eventually dissolve, millions of customers continue to create and practice new online buying habits.
These new habits are likely to stick around. Many customers are afraid of resuming their old buying habits. According to Morning Consult research, 16% of customers said they would feel comfortable shopping in a mall for the next three months, while 24% of customers said they wouldn’t feel comfortable for more than six months. Customers are more willing than ever to shop online and stay at home, creating the perfect market conditions for brands to fast-track, experiment, and launch experience-driven sites, touchpoints, and mobile apps across their platforms.
Steps to Improve Customer Experience
As the dependency on eCommerce stores increases, it’s crucial for retailers to make the customer shopping experience as seamless and safe as possible. eCommerce sales were about 40% higher for the week ending June 1, compared to two months earlier for the week ending March 1. Many of these online purchases across different categories were typically buy online pick up in-store. Brands are having a hard time managing the spike in online orders, leading to bottlenecks such as canceled orders and faulty packages.
Online retailers have been able to successfully adjust to the COVID-19 fallout by eliminating friction in the purchase cycle. Here are tactics you could apply to your business:
- Personalize web content
- Offer multiple shipping options
- Customize marketing through DTC offers & promotions
- Create intimate shopping experiences through user segmentation & characterization
Streamlining Shipping and Fulfillment
With consumers having a lot of time on their hands, many shoppers are opting to avoid shipping, especially if shipping merchants or retailers quote delay in non-essential items and long delivery windows. This poses a significant challenge for eCommerce businesses that want to streamline their fulfillment process. How they choose to react will shape the future of eCommerce. Many are choosing to eliminate the friction that exists in the fulfillment process, and they’re partnering with experts in eCommerce fulfillment services and logistics.
As the world poses in distress and optimism, uncertainty and hope, we know that eCommerce will emerge at the other side of the pandemic, and just in time for the retail holiday season. Retailers need to have consumer behavior at the heart of their long-term plans by taking into account data insights and digital product creation. Although it’s not entirely clear which aspects of eCommerce will be most impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to have a long-term strategy and reliable partners to help protect your business.
Jason Chan is Rakuten Super Logistics’ VP of Sales and Marketing. In this role, Chan directs the company’s sales/marketing functions to grow RSL’s market share and drive revenue. In addition, he manages major client accounts, coordinates public affairs and community outreach, and implements sales and marketing goals.
Prior to joining the team at Rakuten Super Logistics, Chan ran CenturyLink’s Las Vegas marketing and nurtured his entrepreneurial spirit, owning several businesses including car washes and an energy drink company.
'There are no boring topics, only boring content. There also are no interesting topics, only interesting content' - is the gist of why I write. A politics buff and a music aficionado, passionate about all things tech. Perpetually adding places to his travel bucket list and checking them off- a trip at a time.
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