Covid’s Effect on E-Commerce
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed our daily lives, with little prospect of reverting anytime soon. When it comes to the world of digital, we can certainly say “goodbye” to normal: E-commerce is most definitely here to stay. More consumers have become comfortable buying online, after a year of pandemic-hoarding experience. According to Mckinsley.com,
“In 2020, companies digitized 20-25× faster than they had previously thought possible, and 51% of executives in North America and Europe increased their investment in new technologies in 2020.”
Retailers have risen to the occasion by encouraging more online purchases by adopting and developing technology that enables better engagement with customers and improves their overall experiences. This year, emartker.com states that US e-commerce sales will surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever. That will be nearly 16% growth over 2021 and 34.5% growth over 2020.
Over the last few years, there has been steady growth in online shopping. This is primarily due to the abundance of smartphones, internet connectivity, and consumer behavior. Many consumers now use their phones to search for, and purchase, items with the push of a button, though some haven’t fully adopted a remote shopping experience; Some people still prefer to make purchases in-person.
In other circumstances, customers prefer to do their research on the item they’re looking for online before making the final purchase in-store. With all of these possibilities, what does the future of online vs. brick-and-mortar commerce look like for businesses and their customers? Big Drop’s Senior Director, James Weiss, says:
“In many ways, our collective understanding of retail has done a complete 180. Since before the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in brands being born digitally with exclusively online shopping experiences, essentially by-passing the need to deal with complications of COVID-19. In fact, with health restrictions becoming more relaxed, we’re sure to see nascent brands starting to invest in physical shopping experiences in an effort to curate in-person opportunities for their customers to engage.”
Pros/Cons of Online Shopping
Thanks to online shopping, consumers can shop at their leisure with 24/7 access, allowing them to make purchases outside of usual business hours. With the internet “never closing”, having constant access to products, services and stores is a major benefit. Along with lower prices, universal access, and convenient payment options, the practicality of online shopping is hard to match
Despite the major convenience factor, online shopping isn’t without issues. If businesses aren’t able to personalize their site and offer users a seamless experience, conversion rates will easily favor in-person shopping. Potential sales are lost when visitors can’t find what they are looking for, and the likelihood that they will abandon their cart increases exponentially when they aren’t able to get their questions answered directly
Pros/Cons of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping
Shopping is an experience: people like to try things on, and interact with products in real-time – whether it’s a sweatshirt or a candle, the experience is always meant to be in person, in a store. The more traditional, brick-and-mortar experience is an activity that provides excitement and socialization, and will always have its place in the world of retail. Unlike its digital counterpart, consumers don’t have to worry about product disappointment: they know exactly what they’re getting, and won’t be plagued by shipping frustrations. Although online shopping may be less expensive, the extra cost of shipping, coupled with the time spent waiting for the purchase to arrive, add up. While online shopping is definitely gaining ground, brick-and-mortar is here to stay.
With that being said, there are some disadvantages to an exclusively brick-and-mortar shopping experience, amplified by the outbreak of COVID-19. Being able to shop online and have the convenience of a contactless experience has become crucial. The direct-to-consumer approach a lot of brands take today has changed the world of shopping.
How to Prepare for the Future of Shopping
So, where does this leave us? In short, for consumers, it comes down to preference. For brands and retailers, it is absolutely essential to implement both operations with omnichannel strategies, if applicable. Kaity Ayuso, Big Drop’s Business Development Manager, stated the following:
“Personalizing e-Commerce shopping experiences is becoming easier, and more effective, as more brands leverage technology to provide customers with related product recommendations, nudge customers who abandon their carts to return to finish their transactions, and entice customers into returning by emailing or texting them targeted discounts on products they viewed during a recent online store visit.”
There are ways to benefit from both while staying true to your brand. Conducting market research and utilizing target demographics will aid your business in gaining insights to help discover your audience’s preferences in the way they shop. No matter what the future of shopping holds, there will always be new adaptations to consumer behaviors.
Our team at Big Drop put forth an immersive e-commerce experience for Country Life. Since the pandemic and major shift in information architecture strategy, we provided users with separate pathways by which they could discover Country Life products. By providing a path to discovery based on goals, users could more easily identify products by selecting which goals they were looking to achieve through Country Life products. Check it out.