The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we work, travel, communicate, and the most crucial from a business perspective, how we shop. 50% of clients made a purchase of the product they've never bought online before- according to Bloomreach's State of Commerce Experience study.
Changes in consumer behavior will in many cases last for many years. This article will illustrate how user behavior has changed and how eCommerce stores need to adapt.
The COVID outbreak: before and after
During the pandemic, the money spent through eCommerce went through the roof. According to the Digital Commerce 360 analysis, in 2020, U.S. clients have spent around $861.12 billion online. Significant increases in online transactions are a fact. For example, Thailand saw downloads of shopping apps jump 60% in just one week during March 2020.
The pandemic outbreak did not “reward” everyone equally. Some industries benefited from this opportunity more than others. According to McKinsey’s research, there was significant online growth in medicine and groceries. Household supplies and personal care products were also popular choices.
Restrictions sent billions of people from around the world indoors. Thanks to that, the way how people interact on the internet and mobile usage has drastically changed. People had to shift to digital platforms for day-to-day needs.
According to a global study by KPMG, a new type of consumer is emerging worldwide who limits their expenses, is more advanced in using digital technologies, and makes purchasing decisions more thoughtfully. In this new reality, consumers point to the ease of shopping and are looking for companies that offer reasonable prices and can simply be trusted. Because of that fact, organizations need to focus on digitally supporting their customers and gaining their trust.
From the story of Spider-Man, we know that “with great power comes great responsibility.” In the case of the global pandemic, the change in customer behaviors created “a great possibility” for businesses. Below, you’ll find the top post-covid shifts and solutions that are helping customers to reduce concerns and simplify their daily tasks.
The new rules for eCommerce
Convenience is king
The convenience of online shopping is a critical factor in increasing digital outlets. Online is becoming core, especially for grocery retailers. The more consumers bought online in 2020 during the pandemic, the more likely they are to increase their online spending in the following years. At the same time, traditional stores are being visited much less.
This trend will continue because nearly 50% of consumers who have changed their purchasing habits claim that their new behaviors will continue in the future. So what does this mean for eCommerce? First, retailers need to rethink their strategy, and evolve and adapt the digital-first mindset to respond to users’ needs.
If a service is not convenient enough, the customer is more likely to abandon a purchase. About 97% of consumers have abandoned a cart because of the lack of convenience, showing that price is not the most crucial factor in eCommerce purchases.
Shoppers can no longer afford to spend hours picking up their groceries or a day looking for an outfit. Less time for shopping means that convenience reigns supreme.
3D product visuals
3D product visualizers are helping online sellers to scale, boost conversions, reduce returns, and improve customer experience. 3D models can also leverage product information from existing systems, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product information management (PIM) systems, to make products more trustworthy, desirable, and accessible. An interactive 3D product visual is engaging and persuasive. It’s just like holding or looking at a product in a brick-and-mortar shop. Various research shows that the more a shopper can interact with a product, like by zooming in or rotating a product, the more they’ll trust the vendor. Shoppers who can see a product in 3D are 11 times more likely to purchase than those who don’t.
Extended reality (XR) includes all the terms for augmented, virtual, and mixed reality in real-world applications. Remote work has created opportunities to use XR solutions that can reduce costs and increase revenue and productivity.
By 2022, the XR market is predicted to reach $209 billion. That’s eight times what it is today.
So how can XR have an impact on retail? First of all, XR gives customers the ability to try the product before the purchase. For example, the watch manufacturer Rolex has an AR app that allows you to try on watches on your actual wrist. Likewise, the furniture company IKEA gives customers the ability to place furniture items into their homes via mobile.
Customer loyalty is fragile, and during the global pandemic, it was tested to the max. Retailers have learned that by putting the person first, loyalty programs drive new customer acquisition and retain existing ones. At the end of March, the number of loyalty program members is about 20-30% higher than guest checkouts, according to LoyaltyLions.
UX is more crucial than ever
Now more than ever, user experience (UX) is one of the key differentiators between retailers online. Shoppers tend to abandon their carts because the online checkout was too complicated or too long. As consumers continue to make more of their purchases online, engaging with different brands has raised their standards. As a result, customers expect a singular experience that stands out among all their eCommerce encounters.
A site that’s easy to use will be less likely to leak potential sales because it’s a more enjoyable experience for shoppers. Companies cannot afford to let the client start wondering about what to do next while browsing their website. Letting the customer get irritated because they have to deal with errors or subpages that lead nowhere is even worse.
A UX audit
A UX audit checks your website’s health. It provides the answers to important questions like:
- What’s working, and what’s not?
- When does your customer leave the site?
- What does the data tell you about the needs of your user?
With all the correct answers in mind, higher conversion rates are just a matter of time.
The shift from touch to talk
Smart household appliances have already become the norm. Zero user interface (UI) experiences, with their sleek and effortless functioning, have made it into homes with devices like Amazon Echo, Microsoft Kinect, and Google Nest.
Voice interface technology is going to become even more mainstream. A clear advantage of voice user interfaces is that they don’t necessitate physical screens. This reduces the risk of contamination from surfaces. Is voice search able to replace the visual interfaces? This kind of scenario is also possible.
Chatbots and voice bots
The pandemic has accelerated the growth of chatbots because they were a natural choice for disseminating health information during the coronavirus crisis. At the end of February and during mid-March, there was a spike in chatbot inquiries. At that time, the crisis started to hit Europe and the U.S. As a result, the global chatbots market will reach $19.57 million by 2027.
I want it all, and I want it now
Before the pandemic, supermarket chains in developing countries had begun to offer online ordering and home delivery. In response to the lockdowns and social distancing, leading retail and fast-food chains greatly expanded home delivery and curbside pickup. The pandemic made us more impatient. We now expect to receive most orders within a few hours.
Click and collect service
Click and collect is a step towards omnichannel sales. The customer can “click” to buy a product online and then “collect” it at the nearest delivery point. Shoppers prefer click and collect because it avoids delivery costs, especially if an item is needed quickly. Throughout the pandemic, this kind of contactless delivery was crucial for many businesses.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is about automating the solutions to problems. During the pandemic, AI has been valuable for quickly increasing our understanding of disease pathways and identifying drugs that could be used as treatments. AI also supports identifying patient-specific target compounds and calculating probable outcomes from treatments. AI has the potential for use in developing new therapies for rare diseases.
In eCommerce, artificial intelligence and machine learning mean offering a significantly more personalized experience for consumers. AI also responds to today’s customer’s short attention span. Through image recognition, it can identify products within images and video in real time.
Discovering new technologies for eCommerce in the post-Covid world
It’s not the people who have to adapt to the shops, but the shops that need to respond to the needs of the people. Companies that have learned to quickly adapt to changing customer behaviors and have innovative mindsets will always be one step ahead of the competition. Now is the time to invest in tools that help you understand your customers, drive trials, and secure loyalty.
If you want to keep up with the changing behavior like the most prominent players on the market, let’s chat about how the Divante team can help you with that.
Published July 23, 2021