fbpx

January 24, 2022

How has Covid-19 accelerated eCommerce?

The Covid-19 pandemic has unsurprisingly had a profound and notable impact on many aspects of the way we live – from compulsory mask-wearing to virtual work meetings – we’ve had to adapt. With non-essential shops sporadically out-of-action, the already powerful force of eCommerce has accelerated to become the default shopping method of the many; even those who previously gave online shopping a wide berth have been forced to embrace it as the new normal. As technology improves at an unfathomable pace, we’re discussing why a digital-first mindset is key to staying afloat in this changing competitive market.

 

But what is eCommerce?

Simply put, eCommerce (also known as electronic or internet commerce) refers to the buying and selling of goods on the internet, and the transferring of money or data to facilitate these transactions. The term is more commonly used in reference to tangible physical products, but it can be used to describe any kind of commercial transaction that is executed online.

The world of eCommerce is evolving at a rapid pace and showing no signs of slowing down. Two of the most crucial aspects for online retailers to get to grips with today are mobile commerce – having a purchasing model suitable for handheld devices, especially if you have a young demographic – and personalisation, the practice of creating personal interactions and experiences for your customers online – based on data collected regarding previous purchases, browsing behaviour, geographic location, and so on.

How has e-commerce evolved in the pandemic?

Inevitably, the pandemic has changed our purchasing habits, maybe for good. Being able to acquire items contact-free has meant an astute acceleration in eCommerce, with online shoppers now accounting for 81% of the UK population (ref 1). The pandemic paired with shifting political dynamics within Europe has impacted supply chains; and higher demand for online products has led to items selling out quickly. Managing customer expectations by providing pre-ordering functionality or communicating stock replenishment via email notifications, are ways to mitigate fallout and maintain customer loyalty in these challenging times. In short – be upfront and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

There are certain functions you can focus on that will make your life as an online retailer more manageable. Utilising current automation technology to produce and deliver goods and services with minimal human intervention will be a life raft in a storm for your business. This could be in the form of a chatbot that interacts with customers, or an AI-controlled inventory, for example. Automated systems cut down work and unnecessary stress for your human employees, allowing more time for creativity and growing your business.

There are also processes to consider, such as drop shipping – a fulfilment method in which an online store purchases products from a third-party supplier and has them shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the seller doesn’t have to directly handle or store products, ultimately saving money.

When it comes to a successful eCommerce site or platform, there are several vital key functions that we believe should be implemented. This is our checklist of sorts:

  • Search and filtering tools will allow customers to browse efficiently and find products organised by product type, price, size or colour, for example.
  • Providing multiple payment options – such as Klarna, PayPal, Apple pay and Google pay – will increase the chance of the customer’s preferred method being available.
  • Monthly product subscription and newsletters increase contact and allow you to build a mailing list, reminding the customer of the service or goods your business provides.
  • Enabling customers to register/login to an account whenever visiting your ecommerce site promotes loyalty and has many practical benefits, such as customers being able to view their previous orders, track deliveries etc.
  • FAQs are a fantastic tool for communication and way of keeping customers informed, as well as cutting down repetitive emails for your team to answer.
  • Product reviews and recommendations in the form of user generated content (UGC) can increase the probability of a sale.
  • A clear concise product specification is an absolute must-have and will enable SEO.
  • Manage your customer’s expectations with shipping information, item tracking and returns info. Be candid if delivery times are taking longer than usual.

Once you have the basics down, there are a number of bonus features and functions we recommend putting in place to enhance your platform and the shopping experience for your customers:

  • An active Instagram feed, and being present on other social platforms, will drive interest and traffic to your eCommerce site.
  • A wish list and recently viewed functions allows hesitant customers to return to your site and find what they were browsing previously.
  • A back to top function is a great navigational tool.
  • High quality imagery with product zoom gives the customer a better feel for what they are purchasing.

Get familiar with some of our previous work and the eCommerce platforms of our clients:

Cobble Lane Cured: cobblelanecured.com

London DE: londonde.com

Borna Foods: bornafoods.com

Interested to find out more about how we can help with the eCommerce side of your business? Call us on 020 3488 2540 or email us on info@sirmanandlee.com for a quote.