Ecommerce Trends in COVID-19: How to Dominate Your Competition in 2020?July 16, 2020
Ecommerce in COVID-19 has evolved from being a matter of discounts and convenience to a primary feature of safety and convenience. Up until now, retail was the existential threat to the absolute adoption of eCommerce. COVID-19 has exacerbated the threat already looming on the retail models. This is the key reason why eCommerce penetration is projected to go up by 25% in 2025, 1000 basis points above the 15% mark in 2020.
While most eCommerce trends focus on the features that have started trending in the industry, the same trends in the COVID-19 and post-pandemic era will become critical pieces in the eCommerce puzzle. For instance, managing traffic volatility on the eCommerce platform has become a recent trend. The B2B and B2C eCommerce companies that are adding scenario analysis and sensitivity testing to their platform and adding its averaging hosting capacities, are actually reactive to the change. While that is pragmatic, it does not add a strategic advantage to the business.
Here are the trends that you can ride to add a competitive advantage for 2020 and beyond:
1. Utilize the Different Formats of Technology.
Retargeting and targeted campaigns became the solution for bringing the customers on the eCommerce platform. Now, the technology differentiation will come at the customer experience and delivery fronts.
The entire customer experience on the platform has to be augmented to ensure high engagements and higher conversion rates. Many eCommerce platforms are now seeing an increasing issue of abandoned carts that can be solved by adding another layer of technology to the eCommerce platform. This layer can come in the form of AR and VR functionalities that allow customers to experience the product from the comfort of their homes.
Tools like conversational chatbots are now helping customers navigate the entire discovery to purchase a journey and helping the businesses collect real-time data. It has become increasingly easier to deploy chatbots with great returns on investments.
2. Expand to Multiple Delivery Channels with Online Integration.
Delivery necessitates its own innovation cycles. Of all the eCommerce trends that have emerged out of this pandemic, the delivery has been the key differentiator for the online sellers. Now is the right time to innovate and rethink this facet of the eCommerce system.
Last-mile delivery economics is generally prohibitive for businesses since they are very sensitive to errors. One wrong error in that phase and the entire order will turn unprofitable. To mitigate this risk, businesses can eliminate the entire last-mile delivery cycle.
Achieving this has more to do with pragmatism and less to do with technology. By using models like Buy Online & Pickup in Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup, businesses are becoming more efficient and involving the customers in the delivery economics. Both these models entail the purchase and transaction on the online platform, while the delivery is made in the form of a store-pickup from the customer, or the goods are handed to the customer as she drives by the store.
Businesses with a physical storage unit and inventory can easily use such systems with the help of right eCommerce integrations, just a pinch of creativity.
3. Identify and Dominate the Right Marketing Channels.
Just saying ‘social’ or ‘digital’ is not enough anymore. You have to understand your customer at a deeper level. Even in social media, a business can market on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and a few other similar platforms. The digital space is even more extensive.
The ideal way to identify the right platforms is not by focusing on their popularity but on the engagement of your target audience on that platform. You can identify this by conducting market surveys and creating buyer personas. Your job is to isolate the typical customer journey and all the online touchpoints in that journey. By channeling your marketing dollars on the touchpoints with the highest probability of conversion or the highest potential ROI, you can make your marketing campaigns watertight.
For instance – did you know that it’s easy to attract a B2B buyer on LinkedIn than it is on Instagram? And, did you know that a high number of food & beverage products targeted towards homemakers are regularly sold on Pinterest? Such insights would be available to your business only if you conduct a thorough analysis of your audience data.
4. Build an Online Community with Social Proofs and Testimonials.
The only thing more powerful that identifying the optimal channel is building your own community online. Finding and managing a community can sound like a hectic job, but it can yield phenomenal results. This is because the returns on your community-building investments will come over several years and in several channels.
Take, for instance – ITG. The brand was originally founded as a blog and then transformed into an eCommerce business. This way, from day one of its eCommerce operations, the team had first-hand knowledge of customer preferences.
You can create such communities by engaging with your customers. Even if you don’t have a dedicated community website, you can create independent pages for helping your customers. Focus on what are the key problems your target audience has, and solve these problems for them without pushing your product. Once the trust has been established between your brand and the audience, you can leverage this community to get feedback on your products, conduct research on future offerings, and even get the brand advocates for social proof.
Ecommerce in COVID-19 has become an essential service for a lot of customers. Businesses that can acquire and retain new customers post the pandemic will have a large market to dominate. You can begin by creating a map of the customer journey your target audience goes through. Then, create the buckets of community building, channel identification, on-platform experience, and last-mile delivery optimization. If you use the ideas recommended here and focus on each of these buckets, you will create a platform that can attract, convert, and retain customers at a scale far more profitable and enhanced than its competitors.