As we launch our brand-new eCommerce lessons, the world is dealing with a global pandemic that’s resulted in lockdowns and social distancing rules being implemented in many countries. As a result, consumers are turning increasingly to online shopping, whether that’s for the added convenience and speed of delivery, or to protect themselves from becoming ill, or simply because shopping in physical stores is a lot less fun than it used to be.
In the first six months of 2020, eCommerce spending in the US was up by 30% , and in Europe eCommerce mobile app installs rose by 35% in March and April, which was 12% higher than for the 2019 holiday shopping season. According to IBM, the pandemic has accelerated the movement from physical to online stores by five years, at least in the United States. Of course, many sectors are struggling and there is much uncertainty about the future, but there’s no doubt that for many brands, maintaining a robust online sales capability is essential in the current climate.
And in fact, some businesses that were previously not online have been forced to refine their business models to stay afloat. Restaurants are offering customers the ability to order prepared meals or raw ingredients directly from them without the additional fees of food delivery services. In the service sector, gyms and personal trainers are providing classes or individual sessions that can be booked, paid for and taken online.
eCommerce Trends from Covid-19
A number of trends in eCommerce were in play before the virus struck, and some have become even more important, such as the use of multichannel strategies that allow consumers to purchase products on the brand’s own website, from marketplaces such as Amazon or Alibaba, or via social commerce. At the same time, rapid policy changes on the part of marketplaces make it imperative that if possible, retailers should have the ability to sell on their own sites to avoid interruptions in fulfilment.
Successful eCommerce sites have been recently moving towards data-driven, customer-centric marketing. Consumers are increasingly expecting relevant, personalised communications that speak to their individual needs and values, together with customised product recommendations that take their known preferences and previous purchases into account. Marketing automation tools and holistic technology solutions that provide everyone in the company with a single view of the customer are very helpful in this regard.
Customer service for the future
Of course, highly responsive customer service both before and after purchase is an important aspect of sustaining long-term relationships and repeat business. Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence and real-time live chat with salespeople and expert consultants mean that questions can be answered and issues addressed on a 24/7 basis. This can include providing advice and suggestions in cases where consumers aren’t able to touch or try products for themselves. Augmented reality, which allows for products to be superimposed on photographs taken by smartphones means that, for example, items of furniture can be viewed in the rooms in which they would be placed, or woman can see how they might look in different styles of clothing, shades of makeup or pieces of jewellery.
There’s a lot to think about in creating and maintaining a successful eCommerce operation, but the trends are indicating that doing so is essential, at least to augment, if not replace, a physical business.
Our latest lessons will give you an in-depth idea of what’s involved and what you need to know. We hope that the pandemic is soon in our rearview mirror, but we know that eCommerce won’t be – so watch our lessons to be prepared.