Ecommerce in (and after) the Age of Covid – 5 Things Your Business Can Do To Thrive

Ecommerce in (and after) the Age of Covid – 5 Things Your Business Can Do To Thrive

Almost a whole year into the global coronavirus pandemic, its shocking impact on retail is evident and the eCommerce Boom of 2020 has been felt across industries.

For the first time ever, it basically doesn’t matter what your business model or preferred sales channel might be. Every business is put in a situation without alternative. Either make the most of your online sales or risk demise.

The pandemic has sparked a prolonged period of eCommerce adoption that doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.

What can your business do to still capitalize on this upsurge in eCommerce? With everything going on, how to know what to focus on? We give a little roundup and our best advices in this blog post.

Table of contents:

  1. The influence of coronavirus on eCommerce
  2. 2020 – The year of eCommerce success stories
  3. Will things ever return back to the “old” normal?
  4. 5 things your business can do to thrive amid the pandemic
    1. Double down on marketing
    2. Make the necessary technology improvements
    3. Make it easier to buy from you
    4. Focus on internationalization
    5. Pay special attention to mobile

The influence of coronavirus on eCommerce

In the spirit of simple, no-nonsense communication we cherish on this blog, there is really one thing everyone needs to know about the impact Covid-19 has had on eCommerce: there’s more of it and you better adapt.

There’s more of everything that makes up eCommerce.

To start with, there are more customers.

Even the most hardcore brick-and-mortar shoppers were basically forced into eCommerce during 2020. In a recent “US consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis” survey from McKinsey Company, 73% of respondents stated that they have tried a new shopping behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that they’ve realised online shopping is not as difficult as it seemed and that it is so full of potential, they want more.

This goes for businesses as well. Businesses that had their focus on other industries have pivoted quickly. Some of these recent happenings from the world’s largest brands can help us understand what’s really going on.

  1. Amazon affirmed its world domination in eCommerce by posting an astonishing 35% growth in net sales in the first 9 months of 2020 YOY. Only in the UK, Amazon is opening 7000 jobs by the end of the year, with similar initiatives on other major markets.
  2. Shortly after USA and Europe entered the spring lockdown, Google and Facebook made their efforts to take market share from Amazon (one of their largest, if not the largest advertiser). First Google enabled free Google Shopping listings to businesses globally. Then Facebook launched Shops to get more eCommerce businesses to sell their products on Facebook and Instagram.
  3. More recently, YouTube is partnering with its community of creators on integrating eCommerce capabilities, meaning users will be able to shop online for products featured in live videos. This livestreaming ecommerce trend is huge in China for years now. Even TikTok, the platform whose audience is mostly too young to possess any buying power, is teaming up with Shopify and exploring further possibilities of foraying into ecommerce.
  4. The US holiday season 2020 might be the next great boost to eCommerce as most major retailers are keeping their physical stores closed on Thanksgiving. Also, as the pressure from declining brick-and-mortar revenue drives more online discount wars, many brands are expanding Black Friday pricing to weeks before the actual friday. Effectively this turns Black Friday into Black November.

2020 – the year of eCommerce success stories

Businesses that fail to prioritize the digital channel are missing out on what is proving to be the only sales channel resistant to new circumstances.

Such isn’t the case of our partner Prima Furniture, which decided to rebrand towards a younger audience a couple of years ago. Thanks to their timely investments in their custom-designed Magento 2 website, they had a 500% revenue increase amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although Prima already had an eCommerce solution when they approached us, they were missing a couple of key features that were necessary to reach the full potential among their targeted younger audience”, explains the Chief Marketing Officer at Inchoo, Maja Kokolari.

“With the sync to their ERP system, in-store pickup, and custom product type, which allows their clients to fully utilize their modular furniture – they were ready for all redecorations that happened when people started to spend more time home.”

Will things ever return back to the “old” normal?

Some describe the current eCommerce boom in terms of accelerating the “shift away” from physical stores. But every omnichannel merchant will instantly feel that this perspective is wrong. In-store and online shopping can and should not only co-exist, but also complement each other.

Many people, including myself, love in-store shopping. It provides a distinct set of experiences that people enjoy and benefit from.

What will most certainly stay as the “new” normal is the increased adoption of digital channels for shopping, now that many people have experienced their benefits first hand. According to eMarketer’s predictions, eCommerce sales will reach 14.4% of all US retail spending this year and 19.2% by 2024.

No business should treat eCommerce as an alternative channel anymore. In fact, every business should become an eCommerce business.

Good news is that businesses still have time to capitalize on this growth in digital demand.

5 things your business can do to thrive amid the pandemic

1. Double down on marketing

I say this first because the temptation to cut your digital marketing spend is probably high. Cutting expenses sure is a reasonable thing to do in times of uncertainty, but marketing is the worst department you can turn to for cutting expenses.

Bear in mind that the reason for this uncertainty is external. People are basically waiting for the storm to pass. As soon as the conditions change, and they will probably change as swiftly as they appeared, customers will start feeling ready to shop more.

Give that good impression and stay top of mind – instead of cutting, this is the time to invest in marketing.

Take for example our partner Sloan Express, a US-based dealer in agriculture aftermarket parts, whose Google Ads campaigns in 2020 generated almost double the revenue YOY.

“At the beginning of the year, we noticed major changes in user behavior and their use of online services. We then optimized the campaigns and made the changes that successfully utilized new opportunities. This has doubled the client’s results throughout the year – not only during the spring lockdown. It is very important to track any changes in user behavior and to optimize campaigns in accordance with those changes”, says our Davorin Černoga, Digital Marketing Manager in charge of Sloanex.

2. Make the necessary technology improvements

Best you can do is turn to your eCommerce development agency for advice. Consider auditing your online store – the best agencies offer services such as a UX Audit or a Technical Audit. That way you’ll have experts’ findings in a matter of several business days.

There are different ways you can improve your online store. For starters, invest in high-quality content. Zee & Co. is a British fashion retailer which puts a great emphasis on visuals.

Impressive photos, videos and detailed product descriptions lead to more sales and also serve as a way to minimize possible returns.

3. Make it easier to buy from you

As people grow accustomed to stay-at-home lifestyles, they will appreciate whatever you can do to ease the comfort of online shopping.

List of possible enhancements includes:

  • enable click-and-collect and curbside pickup
  • enable payments in installments with Buy Now, Pay Later services like Klarna
  • make returns as stress-free as possible (check out the experience of a partner of ours that developed a custom Returns Portal)

4. Focus on internationalization

Here it’s important to choose the right shipping partner. Try partnering with multiple shipping carriers – should any unforeseen changes in flying restrictions occur, you will want to be in the position to switch between suppliers or even channels.

The importance of free shipping can not be overstated. Research shows that customers want faster shipping more than discounts. Therefore any incentive you can provide when it comes to shipping speed and quality will contribute to conversions.

You also need to be localised on all markets. Translations pay off big time because in many international markets, there is less competition and triple-digit growth is still possible. Just make sure your ecommerce marketing partners support you with the right PPC and SEO efforts.

5. Pay special attention to mobile

Does your analytics data show a significant increase in transactions made from mobile devices? Don’t miss out on this global trend – make sure your users can easily shop on your website even from their smartphones.

Mobile UX is different and it takes a special kind of expertize to get it right. Check out how our UK-based client Zee & Co. got to a staggering 72% of revenue coming from mobile devices, a record that earned them the Best Mobile eCommerce Award.

Whatever impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on your business, you can rest assured that eCommerce technology is 100% ready for the time we’re in. Best you can do is let the experts guide you.

We invite you to reach out to us and start a conversation, get a free consult and at least get our take on your situation. Contact us at web@inchoo.net or via this contact form and we will reply as soon as possible.

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