How to Adapt Your Commerce Strategy to the Post-Pandemic Shopping Behaviors
by Andrii M. on Jun 20, 2022
Today we can confidently say that the COVID-19 global pandemic has been the biggest defining event of the early 2020s so far. Where people used to come together in thousands, they’ve barely been gathering in tens for two years, generally avoiding public places. Numerous companies around the world gave up their offices and transferred their employees to working remotely full time. From buying groceries and paying rent to meeting revenue forecasts, people and businesses are faced with economic uncertainty and rapidly changing current and coming consequences of the pandemic.
The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 is probably one of the biggest in the last decade and evident in every industry, nearly forcing commercial businesses to move online or perish. Although COVID-related threats are not as imminent as they were in spring of 2020, if there’s anything the pandemic has shown us, it’s that you should always be prepared for any development. And thanks to the valuable data provided by Common Thread Collective, we know how drastically consumer priorities and shopping behavior changed in the commercial
In order to survive the crisis, businesses learn from the rapidly changing environment and come to terms with the realities of our interconnected world. They utilize technology, creative thinking, and genuine care to adjust their business models, marketing strategies, and operations to the emerging patterns and new shopping behaviors of their customers.
In this article, we want to talk about the strategic steps eCommerce businesses keep taking today in order to adapt to the post-pandemic shopping behaviors, ensure sustainable growth, and build strong, long-lasting ties with their customers.
Evolve your digital storefront at speed and scale
While there are more than 400 unicorns in the world, of them will probably fail as 70% of startups do. Statistics is relentless — consumer hardware companies fail even more often, with a shocking 97% rate. Startup Genome analysts stress that 90% of all startups will sooner or later die. As bad as it sounds, there may be a way out. Instead of focusing on the sad side of entrepreneurship let’s think of what can be done to prevent those failures. What can startup owners do to make their journey easier and more enjoyable? Is there someone to help them survive, concentrate on their goals, and succeed?
You can’t afford to wait the crisis out. It isn’t going anywhere for months or even years, and it will only get stronger for a while after it starts. It’s time to become future-proof! Ensure sustainability and continuity of your business by addressing your technological shortfalls with agile solutions and innovation. Whether by your own means or with the help of a tech partner, make sure your digital storefront is scalable and ready to meet the new customer needs and expectations.
Look closely at your tech stack or the eCommerce platform you’re using and focus on providing utmost usability to your customers. Find ways to perfect the performance and user experience of your online store—optimize your page loading times, SEO, integrations, and checkout procedures. Tackle the changing customer needs with new experiences and innovative approaches to remote and digital service.
Redefine supply chains to ensure operational continuity
The pandemic has drastically increased the pace of the ubiquitous shift to remote, online shopping. The rapid change has really brought the fulfillment and delivery capacity of many businesses to a real test. Even the giants like Amazon have faced major delivery delays and logistics bottlenecks due to the COVID-19 outbreaks. Therefore, it is imperative that you ramp up your supply chain capacity to guarantee seamless quality of service.
Establish safety stock levels to cover demand variability and set realistic customer expectations that you can confidently meet. Optimize your delivery and in-store pickup procedures with features like product tracking. Improve your supply chain communication with various apps, online tools and services. Consider setting purchase limitations for high-demand products to ensure fair distribution and establish scheduled delivery/pickups to improve customer experience.
Keep your product pages up-to-date
While you’re working on optimizing your supply chain management, which can be a truly challenging task, you definitely want to keep your customers well-informed about all and any availability, fulfillment, or shipment issues you may be experiencing. Be transparent and make sure to constantly update your product and service pages so your customers are aware of any products going out of stock, shipments taking longer than usual, or services undergoing certain quality-of-life changes. Through good communication and well-managed expectations, you can be confident your customers are never surprised with disappointing news when shopping in your online store.
Ensure maximum security of your online operations
Make sure your customers are confident that it’s safe to order online from you! Optimize your checkout and delivery procedures to be as easy to understand, secure, and transparent as possible. Don’t delay the purchase by gathering unnecessary data and avoid confusing descriptions. According to the KPMG 2020 Customer Experience research, as many as 98% of customers are concerned about their personal data and what happens to it. Thus even the slightest misunderstanding or doubt in the purchasing process can lead to cart abandonment.
Upscale your customer support
Make sure you’re offering your customers familiar, reliable secure payment gateways and shipment options that they already use and trust. This will not only eliminate any doubts or possible concerns but also considerably simplify the checkout process for your customers as most of the payment and shipment information will be filled and processed automatically.
With so many customers moving from physical stores to digital storefronts, businesses experience huge spikes in traffic. And while increased order volumes is definitely a good thing in itself, managing these piling up service requests can be extremely inefficient and overburdening to your business without proper customer support in place.
In addition to orderly product pages and concise descriptions, it is critical that you harness data and analytics to improve your contact center management systems and processes for a more responsive and relevant approach to customer support. Augment and automate your customer service with virtual agents—set up efficient chat functionality and automated tools for self-help on your website to avoid overloading your customer service employees. To reduce the burden even further, you can also implement review and comment functionality on product pages where your community itself will help other customers find the answers they’re looking for.
Conduct a customer needs evaluation and offer genuine help
The marketing approach that worked miracles for your business before the pandemic may have proven a complete disaster nowadays. Instead of simply allocating more resources on advertising in an attempt to gain a competitive edge, you have to reimagine your yesterday’s ads, emails, campaigns. The deep shifts in online shopping require you to apply equally deep thinking at every step of the way. Think about your customers and how you can help their current situation. What are their major concerns and particular needs right now? Where and how can you meet them?
Monitor and review your sales. Use data analysis to inform business decisions. Analyze your customer behavior data and learn how you can step up and help. Identify whether you currently have any specific services or items in your inventory that may be of higher demand in the face of today’s global situation. Recognize your customers’ needs and anticipate how customers are changing their habits. Find an opportunity to fill them with major discounts, a rewarding loyalty program, or benefits on essential products.
Provide factual and relevant information on the state of your business
Open up about your own experiences during a time of crisis. Provide accurate information on what’s going on within your organization, featuring health, safety, or quarantine measures you’re taking. Explain the impact the crisis is having on your company and the steps you’re taking in order to ensure business continuity in the face of such a large force.
Show your customers that you are socially responsible, doing your best to support the well-being of your employees in these difficult times. Be empathetic and recognize the hardships your customers are going through. Set realistic expectations and apologize for possible shortages of supply. But most importantly, stay true to your values if you want to build trust with your customers.
While many businesses worldwide fail to comprehend the new realities and perish, numerous others continue on their journeys to complete digital and strategic transformation. Some even manage to successfully take a bite of markets previously dominated by enterprise retailers. Even during a global pandemic like this one, businesses can not just stay afloat but find growth and opportunity.
And there is no secret behind it. Just don’t hold back—adapt! Be agile to react to the changing behaviors and situations around us in real time. Be innovative to remove any impediments to action and respond to the shifting needs of customers with timely and impactful adjustments to your business. Be compassionate to understand your customers’ realities, the wider needs and causes.
By assuming more responsibility and caring for your customers today, you’re building a strong, trustful relationship that will endure far beyond these challenging times of uncertainty whether the global situation remains more or less stable or we’ll experience a new crisis similar to the COVID-19 one. The bottom line is that no one can predict what else the future holds for us but it is still possible to take control of your own future despite the uncertainties.
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