COVID-19 changed the scenario of online shopping forever. We have seen a dramatic shift in the e-commerce business, especially in the past year. Consumers are now relying more on the digital world rather than walking to a store physically. Though vaccination has started and things have started to become normal, the individuals' psychological effects remain to trust online more now.
In its annual "The Status of Retailing Online" report, Forrester surveyed online retailers in conjunction with the National Retail Federation back in late 2019. The report found that most stores ended up with a more significant number of bricks-and-mortar shops. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the Coronavirus, retailing of bricks and mortar slowed to a standstill. As a result, numerous retail companies around the world have been struggling to expand their consumer experiences.
This article will try to portray how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected online retailers and how learnings from coronavirus eCommerce have taught us to adapt to the new normal.
How Coronavirus Affect Business
What we have seen is complete digital transformation during this time. Let's see the statistical data and results on how Coronavirus affects business.
Innovations in Customer Service
With the in-store buying mood was still in uncertainty, stores needed to ensure that their resources and programs are in place to make things easy for shoppers. Retailers like Pandora, Moss Bros, and Selfridges made appointment bookings for in-store trips (before lockdowns) so that in-person shopping helps shoppers feel better. Retailers such as John Lewis, Bensons for Beds, and Ted Baker provide video chats with sales workers to serve consumers who would also want to buy online.
Impact on the Workforce
Of note, the pandemic has already contributed to some shifts in the workforce. Approximately 44 percent of companies said they had to move workers, while three out of ten hired more staff. The other side of the coin is that 26% of companies have fired their employees, and 15% had to lower their workers' wages. Surprisingly, 5% of the workers managed to get a pay rise. Perhaps more surprisingly, 21% of firms have not changed their workforce at all.
Increase in Coronavirus E-commerce Stores
The emergence of SaaS e-commerce sites such as BigCommerce and Shopify has reduced the entry barrier for online purchases. It is a good thing for retailers to provide their consumers with premium goods. Unfortunately, with the emergence of the Coronavirus, several merchants stood up online storefronts and marketed some items that could cure the virus infection – claims that medical practitioners marked as baseless.
Rise of Fast E-commerce Delivery
Distribution is a crucial element of e-commerce. Businesses are primarily dependent on third-party logistics and distribution services to better satisfy consumer demand in response to the e-commerce rise experienced since the pandemic. In January 2021, Bringg, the logistics technology provider, announced an alliance with Uber Direct to extend its customers' distribution networks. This ensures that Uber Direct delivery drivers would have access to affiliate stores, allowing them to have the same and next-day delivery services.
Diversification of Products
Businesses are finding the need to pivot fast to remain competitive in today's marketplace in the face of rapidly evolving consumer lifestyles and shopping behaviors. Some e-commerce vendors are introducing soaps and other hygiene goods, medical supplies, or various DIY or self-care-related products to satisfy market demands. To avoid shipping and fulfillment entirely, some had to change their distribution models to provide curbside pickup or provide digital versions of their products/services.
Despite all the negative things that are happening due to the coronavirus epidemic, financially 2020 was not so bad for many eCommerce enterprises. Most of them (63 percent) state that the year was good. And 28% say their e-commerce business is doing well, while their retail stores are not. And a shocking 2% said the exact opposite!
Personal Observations of Adaptation
Here are some of the adaptation I have seen in the past few months –
One of my beloved local restaurants has been able to adapt by providing takeout and delivery solely. The waiting workers have continued to take orders over the internet and distribute food. The restaurant can retain a degree of revenue to justify keeping it open.
My favorite salon has begun to market home stain touch-up kits customized to the new file formulations.
To keep your skills sharp, a Tennis Academy is now doing video consulting and making videos of drills and tutorials you can practice at home. Instead of running face-to-face workshops, online academic courses, and cold calling, clients are provided by scuba training centers.
E-commerce firms that typically sell paid subscriptions, such as online workouts and courses, have provided FREE access to their premium offerings for a short time. By building a base of consumers, you can turn free riders ultimately into paying clients.
How Online Retailers Can Adapt in 2021
Businesses are continually learning how to adapt to the change in consumer behavior. You have probably seen many small business owners going live, telling the uncertainty of the future during the pandemic. They need to find ways to adapt as soon as possible to survive in this tough competition. Here are six tips from me on adjusting and making the best use of your time in your business.
1. Contact The Manufacturer
If You run an online retail store, you never know when you will see a surge in orders and a decline. Speak to your suppliers about where they are in development and how they expect the Coronavirus to affect their business. You should not prepare for something you do not know, so do your best to learn all facets of your supply chain as soon as possible.
2. Find Alternatives
Coronavirus first appeared in China, which is also where many vendors source their goods. For certain vendors who were unable to locate replacement providers, this created product shortages. It will help you reduce risk by getting a few different choices to lean on.
3. Understand Customer Needs
Who are your customers? Are they functioning from home? Right now, what are their unique needs and concerns? You will determine your readiness to satisfy them until you properly grasp their current needs. Consider if you have the resources to meet their demands at the moment or whether you should consider pivoting to suit them best.
4. New Sales Channels
A significant drop in brick-and-mortar foot traffic, or even store openings, is one of the effects of people being asked to sit at home. If they do not even have one or, if they do, double down on their web presence and digital marketing, now is a perfect time for brick-and-mortars to launch an online shop.
5. Keep Updating Product Page
Keep the product pages updated so that your consumers know what to expect. You may learn that some goods are out of stock for a while, that it takes longer for shipments to reach their destinations, or that certain of your products sell out earlier than usual. This is all valuable knowledge for your customers to have when they buy in your store. Be open to providing as much data as possible. You would be most likely to have pleased clients by balancing demands, even though you face a slow-down in operation.
6. Focus on PPC Advertising
More Google searches are going on for more people at home. You must consider PPC advertising. Be sure to carefully track the data and, if necessary, change your bidding strategy. If you see much lower conversion rates for those times of day, reduce the bids to save money for specific times.
When more individuals are at home and spend time online, content marketing is key. Businesses should pay attention to their email capture plan. I suggest writing blog posts, making YouTube videos, and other content. Focus on having quality products, cutting prices where possible, treating consumers well, and maybe even adding new goods or working on marketing more tailored to this modern lifestyle on existing products. Focus on the performance of your website. As Internet service providers are getting overwhelmed, site speed is more critical than ever!