As we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19, you can expect that digital shopping will continue to trend upwards. The question is, how can your business continue to capitalize on e-commerce in the months and years to come? The following information offers some insights and suggestions.
Digital Shopping Trends: Opportunities to Evolve
While physical shopping centers took a hit after the pandemic began, lockdowns also provided an opportunity for companies to shift and innovate. Many businesses seized this opportunity and enjoyed a high ROI for their efforts.
For example, live-stream shopping made considerable gains in popularity during 2020. Customers who wanted to connect to a particular brand turned to live online events instead of in-store shopping. No doubt, live-streaming will continue to be an effective marketing avenue for companies in the fourth quarter of 2021 and beyond. The Interactive Advertising Bureau recently projected that live-stream-generated sales will reach $120 billion worldwide by the end of the year.
Other notable digital shopping trends that were prominent in 2020 and continued into 2021 include the increased popularity of home delivery options. The emergence of "hybrid" shopping techniques like curbside pickup (and other contact-less options) was favored by consumers. According to one study, consumers also had a more pronounced tendency to research brands on their preferred social media platforms (with 44.8% of Internet users worldwide doing so in 2020).
The Future of Retail is Digital
Even as we continue to handle the effects of the pandemic, the consensus within marketing circles is that the future of retail is digital. E-commerce was already a widely preferred option before COVID-19 but has only surged in popularity since the spring of 2020.
Research indicates that Americans spent $791.7 billion on e-commerce during 2020, up 32.4% from 2019. Furthermore, e-commerce accounted for 14% of total retail sales in the United States in 2020, 3 percentage points higher than in 2019.
Why is digital shopping here to stay? One of the most significant factors is customer expectations. Modern consumers have come to expect online shopping options for just about any item they want to buy. Many people avoid in-store shopping to the extent possible for a variety of reasons. Others wish to compare in-store and online prices or compare one e-commerce retailer with another.
Whatever their reasons may be, the bottom line is that customers expect online shopping to be on the table at all times — and it's up to businesses to provide them with that option if they want to stay relevant and profitable.
Your Innovative Digital Shopping Plan for This Holiday Season
The holiday season is when most retailers see a surge in sales. The question is, what's your digital shopping plan for this time of year? Here are some factors you should consider when developing your strategy:
- Elevate your online shopping user experience. A clunky website that's hard to navigate will drive users away instead of attracting them to your brand. Make sure that your website is optimized for a seamless, user-friendly experience and that your browsing and checkout processes are easy and straightforward.
- Maintain a strong social media presence. As mentioned earlier, many people research brands on social media before making a final purchase decision. With that in mind, ensure that you have a strong presence on the social media platforms frequented by your target customers.
- Consider live-streamed sales events. This will help you to connect with customers in an innovative, exciting way.
- Drive more traffic to your e-commerce website(s). Implement SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing tactics to make your website more visible to consumers.
- Enable contact-less ordering or delivery. Many of your customers will prefer such options to more traditional in-store shopping methods.
- Allow your customers to move seamlessly between devices when interacting with your brand. This "omni-channel" approach will make the sales process easy and convenient for the customer and help them to move through your sales funnel.
- Make shipping costs transparent. Let customers know upfront what they'll have to pay in shipping fees. Alternatively, offer free shipping on qualifying products or orders above a specific dollar amount.
- Assure the customer that they will receive a high-quality product and have a good experience. This may involve offering a return and refund option, a warranty along with the product, or another type of satisfaction guarantee.
- Offer the opportunity to “live chat” with your customers for on-demand contact with you. If your business’s product or service is more complex, the ability to ask questions while purchasing can be a key factor in converting a sale.
Digital shopping has been around for several decades now, and it's not going anywhere, anytime soon. If you want to take your e-commerce game to the next level, then consider partnering with an experienced digital agency on your upcoming campaigns. In any event, do all that you can to capitalize on the digital shopping trend ASAP, and you will experience tangible, sustainable business growth.