The COVID-Related Shift to eCommerce and How to Make it Stick

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion about how COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior. This past May, total online spending was up 77% year-over-year–to $82.5B.

If we ignore COVID, eCommerce has been experiencing significant growth for the past 20+ years. But the vast majority of people still historically shopped brick-and mortar stores, at least in combination with their online shopping. And, as recently as 2016, more than 20% of shoppers never shopped online.

As we adjust to the “new normal”, it’s helpful to examine the factors that were keeping these shoppers offline–and to address these factors in hopes that we can make this shift to eCommerce permanent.

According to a survey done by Ripen, there were 4 primary reasons that people preferred offline shopping:

  • 30.8% want to see or feel products in person: By actually getting to feel the products, customers avoid surprises that even the best online merchandising can’t eliminate.
  • 29.9% want their items right away: Instant gratification is a huge theme in today’s society and physical retail stores provide the user with products without a wait.
  • 16.9% wanted to protect their privacy by shopping offline: Even among frequent online shoppers, the worry that credit card or other sensitive personal information could be compromised can never be completely forgotten.
  • 14.4% wanted to save on shipping costs: While more and more online stores offer free shipping, many of them only offer it over a certain order cost threshold, prompting some shoppers to visit a physical store to avoid having to buy extra items–or pay for shipping.

The good news is that there are straightforward solutions to all the issues highlighted above.

While the experience of physically touching a product can never be fully replicated online, online sellers can focus on integrating purchasing through social platforms to make it easier for shoppers to connect with friends who own (and can testify to the physical aspects of) products they are interested in. They can also highlight good-old-fashioned reviews of products so customers can see a diverse set of opinions.

To address privacy and security concerns, sellers can have secure checkouts validated by recognized brands like McAfee, TrustE, or COMODO.

While instant gratification is a tough one, sellers can substitute what you might call “specific future gratification” (we know, it’s not quite as catchy, we are working on it:) by offering accurate delivery dates everywhere shoppers might be curious about when they’ll get to touch their new purchase (e.g. the Product, Cart, and Checkout pages).

This is closely tied to the shipping cost concern; if you can’t offer free shipping on everything, offering the cheapest possible shipping on as many products as possible will mitigate this concern for many shoppers. And of course, at FenixCommerce, providing accurate delivery dates and helping sellers lower shipping costs are the foundations of what we do–so we’d love to help!

How are you planning to keep your COVID surge going long-term? Drop us a comment below and let us know your plans.

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