COVID-19 impact on e-Commerce – of user habits & behavior; retailer readiness

Impact of COVID-19 on e-Commerce

The pandemic caused many changes in people’s shopping habits and forced retailers to change much faster than they otherwise might have. Retailers that already had a solid digital channel and had introduced hybrid or cross-channel purchasing opportunities like click and collect had a head start. But even they weren’t necessarily prepared for the volume of sales and the demand from shoppers.

The primary changes in shopper’s habits are a move to online retail for more items and more classes of items, to avoid stores, more willingness to try e-commerce for perishable goods, even if it’s only ‘click and collect’ rather than full delivery, more willingness to try e-commerce for high value and luxury goods, although there are still the same issues of trust and security.

More general use of computers for many parts of daily life, leading to potentially more willingness to use online shopping, even among groups of the population who previously wouldn’t have.

Retailers have had to make changes, too. Scaling up their internet presence and their ability to fulfill orders. Some have seen more than double the pre-pandemic business in their digital channels, offering innovative solutions like buying online and collecting in-store, or just outside the store, or offering same-day delivery to sell perishable items online. Emphasizing shopper and employee safety and personal care in their marketing collateral. Overcoming shopper reluctance by offering free or greatly reduced shipping and better guarantees and return policies. It obviously took time to adapt to this type of enforced change.

And although people’s habits have changed somewhat post-pandemic, most of the underlying user traits and behaviors are still there. Just because people are being potentially forced to buy online rather than in-person doesn’t remove any of their previous mental barriers to accepting it as a valid way of doing business.

Although they might be ordering their groceries online now, they still worry whether the bananas they bought are going to be too green or too ripe. So, in some respects, although there’s now a bigger group of people needing to use e-commerce, they’re at least as demanding as before, if not more so. And there’s at least as much competition for that business as before, if not more so.

And all of the above means there’s even more reason to concentrate on providing the best possible User experience across the whole journey, both to retain your existing customers and to attract new ones.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Saurabh N Gupta
Saurabh is the VP – Digital360 Solutions at CRMIT and helps reimagine digital with the power of marketing & commerce and drive growth with customer-first digital experiences.

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