The ‘New Normal’ in E-Commerce and How We Shop

The global COVID-19 pandemic has completely reshaped retail. With 25,000 stores expected to close in the US by 2021, online shopping is continuing to surge. And while retail has undergone a vast model alteration in the last decade, the upheaval from COVID-19 has accelerated these changes at an unprecedented rate. And many of these modifications are likely here to stay. 

Big brands prove the trend isn’t temporary  

Walmart and Target recently reported their third-quarter earnings, with both confirming e-commerce are still on the rise. Walmart’s online sales rose by 79%. Target’s increased by 155%

These staggering gains come after Walmart’s online sales rose 97% in Q2 and Target rose 195%.    

How can e-commerce brands adapt?

It’s time for your brand to reimagine the customer experience. Adaptation is no longer optional. 

For a brand to survive in today’s market climate, online shopping must be a central focus for the immediate and near future.

Below are a few considerations to assess when modifying your e-commerce strategy:

  1. Confirm your e-commerce site looks “trustworthy”

Since consumers will be handing over their credit card information, it’s imperative that your online store appears legit. 

The first step to competitive e-commerce is establishing that your site is traffic ready. Then, ask the following questions when considering your trustworthiness:

Is it clear what products I’m selling?

Would I feel comfortable providing my credit card information on this site?

Is it easy to locate a specific product I’m looking for?

Does my site offer additional product selections?

Is my content unique and relevant?

  1. Make your e-commerce experience as visual and vivid as possible

If your customers can’t physically touch or see your products in real-time, your online presence needs to be as true to life as possible. For many e-commerce stores, this level of representation is achieved by having stellar product detail pages (PDPs). 

Product detail page (PDP)
Source: Practical e-commerce

A product detail page is a web page on an e-commerce website that provides visuals and in-depth descriptions of a specific product. 

The main elements of a PDP usually include size, color, price, shipping information, and customer reviews. 

How to make a PDP that stands out?

In 2020, product detail pages are more crucial than ever. 

Consider including videos of your product in action so consumers can see how your products move and look.  

Today, your product detail page can make or break an online purchase. Make sure you’re providing just the right amount of information to influence and engage your website visitors.  

  1. Reconstruct your direct-to-consumer channel when needed

This year has shown us how consumers’ needs and purchasing decisions can change rapidly. 

In March, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and groceries were prioritized. Now, in addition to necessities, many consumers are seeking products related to online learning, home workouts, and crafting. 

Supply, demand, and pricing are all changing, and your direct-to-consumer channel needs to be mindful and flexible.   

With the rapid pace of change, redirection, local and national reactions to COVID-19, and related effects of the pandemic, being able to adjust immediately to market changes will allow your products to remain relevant and accessible to your customer base. 

Is your e-commerce store prepared to meet consumers where they are by repricing, offering new products, and changing your messaging?

Consumers everywhere will recognize e-commerce stores that are accommodating and those that remain stagnant.  

  1. Nurture authentic connections

 Authenticity from brands matters so much in our new normal. As people continue to navigate the complicated landscapes of today’s world, it is even more important than ever to establish your brand as connected, concerned, engaged, and authentic.

Digital authenticity in e-commerce 

How can you instill the e-commerce experience with authenticity? One simple way is to encourage consumers to create and share user-generated content (UGC). 

Invite customers to take pictures and videos of them using your products. This can, in turn, become a form of social proof. The effect becomes reaffirming as customers engage by creating and sharing content, which inevitably leads to other customers reacting, and then themselves sharing their own experiences and engagement with your product. 

  1. Maintain connectivity 

Stay connected with your consumers and use email marketing to keep your customers informed. 

Remind consumers that they can further connect and engage with you on social media and what services you’re still offering. 

Share the changes your business is making to better serve your customers. 

  1. Perfect your customer service

Now is the time to fine-tune your customer success strategies. Be transparent, proactive, and understanding. Also, make sure your ordering and return processes are easy and straightforward.

Always bring the focus back to how you can best serve your customers. Think about the challenges they are facing right now and how you can make their lives easier. 

  1. Embrace the new workflow

Your sales, IT, and marketing are no longer all working together under one roof. 

While the working from home set-up won’t be permanent for all businesses, it’s safe to say all employees will come out of this different than before. 

Now is the time to establish and retool your business’s new workflow. 

Closing thoughts

This is a new reality for all of us. Consumers are expecting the best digital shopping experiences brands can offer. By investing in your e-commerce today, you’re setting yourself up for success for tomorrow.  

 Need help transforming your e-commerce site? Contact Zen Media today to start strategizing. 

ABOUT SHAMA HYDER

She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.

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