Sold Out: The Pandemic & The Rise of Online Shopping

Before March 2020, the internet was full at an overabundance of things, all available at the press of a button. But in a mere few months, the pandemic turned the all-encompassing, carefully constructed Western consumerism around. As the world responds to the pandemic, we’re seeing a dramatic shift from in-person to online shopping. This means new strategies for retailers and new routines for consumers. Here’s how the pandemic has affected online shopping:

How Convenient

The pandemic has accelerated retail’s shift from physical stores to eCommerce by five years, according to IBM’s U.S. Retail Index. These results reinforce that the summer of “acceleration” will become a lifelong shift. A whopping 71% of U.S. shoppers surveyed by Harris Poll said they’re content with buying items online that they once bought in stores.

It’s all about convenience. As John Gerzma, the CEO of Harris Poll states, “Not only have companies delivered the essentials with speed, efficiency, and relative ease but now Americans have realized that they can get goods they once thought they would only buy in-person with just a few clicks.”

With Amazon Prime offering two-day shipping on millions of items, the service has exceeded 112 million subscribers around the world, though there are still only two million Prime members in Canada.

The Digital Experience

Despite the convenience of online shopping, the experience isn’t perfect yet. Consumers feel nostalgic for petting the faux fur at the nearest Ikea, 47% miss the shopping experience.

  • 40% of women and 41% of men miss shopping in person.
  • 43% of women and 32% of men miss looking at products that weren’t on their original shopping lists.

While beauty companies can’t teleport product samples before you hit purchase, there are two areas retails can scratch the itch for an in-person experience:

1. Customer Personalization

The advantage of eCommerce orders is that retailers can inject a brand persona (with algorithmic product recs) and post-order (with branded packaging) that includes the customer’s name.

2. Tech Reliability

Now more than ever, refining the digital experience is important. Shoppers must know your website won’t crash when you hit order, that a chatbot can answer their questions, and that your payment methods are secure.

Above all else, COVID-19 has unveiled the value of the digital experience to consumers and companies must adapt their strategies to shift towards digital transformations.

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