A little over a year into a global pandemic that turned the entire world on its head, we find ourselves not only reflecting on what we’ve learned from the massive impact of COVID-19 on the e-commerce industry, but also looking ahead — with dare we say, hope — as we collectively start moving towards what finally seems like some light at the end of the tunnel.
After multiple shelter-in-places left people with nowhere to go but online, there’s no doubt that e-commerce now reigns supreme. As a result, customers have come to adopt certain expectations that e-commerce merchants must now be prepared to meet in the post-pandemic world.
The Uptick in E-Commerce Will Keep On Keepin’ On
Back at the beginning of the year, we predicted that retail’s digital surge would continue post-pandemic. And as we’ve moved through the dark winter into a more optimistic spring, several others in the industry are looking ahead in agreement that the e-commerce boom is here to stay — even as we cautiously return to more normalcy.
There’s no doubt that consumer habits have changed for good: “AlixPartners is also the latest to find what’s likely to be a permanent bump in online sales of apparel, with 37% worldwide and 29% in the U.S. saying they’ll shop for those items online more than they did before.” Mastercard’s recently released Recovery Insights Report also delves into this anticipated trend, expecting roughly 20-30% of the COVID-related shift online to remain permanent globally. The report also recognizes that as a result of the pandemic, more consumers than ever are now shopping online.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say again — this change in shopping habits is bound to stick, which adds to the ever-present question of how to use e-commerce as a way to secure more customer loyalty. Over the course of the pandemic “[s]ome retailers needed to learn how to deliver better e-commerce experiences. Retailers that were first to recognize — and meet — these pandemic-fueled expectations secured customer loyalty.”
Getting Ahead of Evolving Expectations
The bottom line is that It’s not only important, but crucial, to get ahead of evolving shopping trends — including a sustained bump in e-commerce purchases even after the pandemic is over — in order to make the right decisions that will help you run a successful business. Many merchants have prepared to meet — and even — exceed digital-first consumer expectations by investing in innovative technologies, including solutions powered by AI and automation, while others are extending their brand experiences to make an impact at every step of the e-commerce customer’s journey.
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