You’ve probably encountered news and articles saying that ecommerce in the new normal is a trend to expect due to the pandemic. There’s some truth to this, as surveys show that people spend up to 30% more dollars online.
While marketing experts have predicted that eCommerce sales will only increase as COVID-19 infections soar, even the eCommerce business has challenges in store. No one and nothing is spared from this pandemic—not even something as virtual as eCommerce.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has already affected eCommerce in various ways.
First, as more people turn to online shopping to buy essential and non-essential goods, there could be inventory shortages and major disruptions in supply chains.
Also, convenience-seeking consumers could easily turn down orders with longer-delivery items and switch to other eCommerce sites offering faster delivery options. With everything they need just a click away, consumers may switch from one website to another in search of the most convenient and affordable option.
Finally, strict rules and regulations are being enforced to protect consumers from false online sellers taking advantage of the current situation. This forced marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay to purge and ban those who do not adhere to the laws against price gouging and false advertising.
Since we live in unprecedented times, the challenge will be to predict what may happen in the future. If you are in the eCommerce business, keep doing your research, observing changing consumer behavior, and staying agile by adjusting to relevant trends.
Ecommerce trends to expect in the new normal
Ecommerce business models will need to be more agile
If you already own an online store, one of the first things you should do to prepare yourself for this new normal is to check the eCommerce platform you are using.
Because of changing consumer behavior and the unpredictability of trends today, make sure your platform makes it easy for you to adjust when needed. In other words, the platform should allow you to be as agile as possible, especially with shifting business models and the need to implement more unique and innovative ways of serving customers.
Learn more about how people today shop online and observe your competitors; then, revisit your eCommerce marketing strategy. If you need to adjust to how shoppers are behaving online, you most likely will—go back to the existing functionalities you have on your eCommerce platform.
Does it enable you to add more features? Will applying all the necessary changes be easy? Does it allow you to be agile in these unpredictable times? Or will it only slow you down or keep you from progressing?
If you think your platform holds you back from freely marketing your online store, try to explore other popular eCommerce platforms that might work better for you. Remember: Your eCommerce is an investment, and settling for cheap providers won’t always get you the functionality you’re after.
Increased demand for efficiency and reliability
An increase in online shopping worldwide mainly calls for two things: efficiency and reliability.
eCommerce order volume has increased by nearly 50% compared to 2019. This rapid escalation has caused plenty of shipping delays as well. Efficiency has taken a hit with factories being unable to operate, limited transportation, and social distancing regulations.
With this in mind, you need to find ways to be more efficient. Perhaps there are services you need to let go of to perform better or features you need to install on the site to serve your customers well. As we previously discussed, staying agile also helps you to be more efficient.
Mark Patchett, the founder of The eCommerce Academy, says one way to achieve efficiency in a time like this is omnipresence. Since consumers today browse many different channels to find the best deals when shopping, your brand must have some presence in all the platforms your consumers are active in.
Reliability is essential for consumers. They need to know your website can withstand any major event or calamity. They want to see you survive through every extreme your business faces.
A slow loading time, a simple malfunction on your site or an unanswered query can make your site look and feel unreliable. In these trying times, consumers can be sensitive and easily develop trust issues from a bad experience online. What they’re looking for right now are companies that won’t fail them and brands they can still rely on even in the midst of a pandemic.
Creating genuine connections is more crucial than ever
The 2020 CGS Customer Services Preferences in Times of Distress reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has “illuminated cracks in customer service.” It identified three areas that brands should reflect on.
First is that consumers are craving a sense of “human touch” in customer service. With people now staying at home and working remotely, it’s no surprise consumers crave human connection—including in customer service.
Among the 2,000 people surveyed, 38% of U.S. respondents and 29% in the UK value talking to a live agent, which is considered their major factor in determining a successful customer service interaction.
The second is that consumers want their problems to be solved immediately, hence speaking to a live agent. Apart from human connection, perhaps speaking to an actual person who responds to them in real-time makes them feel more valued as a customer. However, one thing hasn’t changed: even in the midst of a pandemic, customers want their complaints to be resolved immediately.
Lastly, consumers don’t want just any agent, but one who is friendly. Consumers say they want to experience a level of friendliness from customer support. Unsurprisingly, there is a higher level of empathy and understanding required of customer service during these trying times. In relation to finding that “human touch” online, customers want companies to understand what they’re going through.
Online marketing and sales skills will become a requirement
To navigate these unprecedented times, you must also equip yourself with excellent online marketing and sales skills so you can serve your customers better. You can’t be agile if you don’t know how to be agile.
Develop a growth mindset by constantly finding ways to improve your business inside and out. Since trends are coming and going as fast as they ever have, stay updated on all the happenings in your industry as well as in the larger world of eCommerce.
You can also use this time to sharpen your online marketing skills by enrolling in virtual classes, doing some heavy research, and assessing yourself in this journey.
The subscription box model will become increasingly popular
Almost 75% of U.S. internet users say they plan to avoid in-store shopping because of the pandemic. Until there’s a cure or a vaccine, consumers may continue this stay-at-home behavior, and therefore drastically alter their purchasing behavior.
Here’s an idea: What if they can get supplies on their doorstep every month? This is where the subscription box model comes in.
Subscription billing is defined as the agreement to automatically charge repeat customers’ payments to a saved credit or debit card—saving them the hassle of remembering to pay each invoice.
The subscription business model could be very advantageous for both the seller and the buyer.
Sellers benefit from a recurring revenue stream from customers who choose to subscribe every month. Successfully providing for your customers monthly also helps you build relationships and brand loyalty. Not to mention that having the right tools to manage your automatic payments definitely saves you the time and effort of chasing after your customers.
Buyers won’t have to worry about remembering to purchase the same necessities every month, but instead will automatically have them delivered to their homes. They also won’t have to worry about repetitive monthly transactions because of automatic subscription billing.
If you have a lot of repeat customers buying the same thing every month, perhaps you could consider integrating the subscription box model into your current business model.
A perfect example of this is Ritual, which offers a 30-day supply of subscription vitamins. Since people usually buy the same vitamins on a consistent schedule, they can save the hassle and risk of going to a pharmacy and subscribe for just a few dollars every month.
Discerning which eCommerce trends will get you through this new normal can be a challenge, but the right ones may be what keeps your business afloat until we’re all safely out of the pandemic. We’re all learning how to navigate this unchartered territory for our generation, but we must stay agile in the eCommerce world by adapting and adjusting to serve our customers better.