We’ll start this blog with a bit of self-reflection.
Has the pandemic changed the way you shop?
Have you noticed a shift in your own buying habits?
If the answer is “yes” to either question, you are not alone. Your customers’ shopping habits have changed as well. For the past year-plus, we’ve had our eyes on retail trends and how consumer behavior has evolved in the wake of COVID-19. The data supports our belief that people want an entirely different experience when they decide to shop.
EY’s Future Consumer Index, released earlier in 2021, found that four in five (80%) Americans are shopping differently than before the pandemic. This represents a new opportunity for brands that have traditionally relied on the brick-and-mortar, in-store experience to drive sales—especially during a time when that foot traffic may be lower.
The opportunity is all about ecommerce. It’s about getting your products in front of consumers where they are (online, and on their devices) and when they’re engaged, while delivering a seamless buying process that makes for a confident and simple purchase.
Let’s dig into the five ways you can do this.
#1: A refocused customer experience
Brands that have done a majority of their business with in-store shopping are rethinking how they bring products to their customers.
The Future Consumer Index also found that 60% of consumers are visiting brick-and-mortar stores less often than they did before the pandemic, and 43% are utilizing online platforms to buy things they once bought in-store.
By bolstering your online marketplace, you’ll be better positioned to cater to shoppers who are simply shopping differently, and deliver the experience they want, when they want it.
#2: Build a bond with customers
The path forward for these brands is to develop deeper, stronger relationships with customers that cross multiple mediums: the physical store, ecommerce platforms, and advertising.
The story of the product and how it fits into people’s lives is a critical component, and helps turn “want” into “need” even if they can’t touch or hold the product before buying.
Your ecommerce or online shopping platform can do the bulk of this work for you: the website is an entry to your brand, the content amplifies your products and their stories, and the design moves customers seamlessly to a place where they can purchase either on-site or through another retailer like Amazon or Walmart.
#3: Create an immersive experience
The customer experience should be a web in which everything intertwines.
The online shopper understands, through content and advertising, why the product matters to them—and the ecommerce environment capitalizes on that desire by making it easy to buy and informing them about the products themselves.
This all starts with an online presence that is captivating. Given what we know from the EY data earlier in this blog, the majority of customers are making purchases online and, in most cases, they’ve discovered these products online as well (through Instagram, suggested product listings on Amazon, etc.).
If you can do this, you’ll be ready to take on shoppers who just can’t resist.
#4: Capitalize on impulse purchases
Some call it “retail therapy,” others call it “impulse buying.”
The truth is that the number of people making quick and easy purchases isn’t slowing down. As recently as 2019, 88% of Americans admitted to making an impulse buy on the internet (with the millennial demographic leading the way), amounting to nearly $18 billion in sales.
So, how do you take advantage of shoppers who might have an itchy finger while scrolling through their feeds? You have to meet them where they are—and for brands and retailers more comfortable with in-store shopping, it starts with building an online presence.
#5: Meet customers where they are
Placing the right ads—Google, social media, and display—will get your products in front of a qualified audience, and decrease reliance on in-store shoppers. With the ability to buy products directly from Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, it’s imperative to get ahead and strike while the interest is hot.
Your ecommerce content should make buying easy: one click, add to cart, check out. An arduous process can result in abandoned carts, to which nearly 59% of online shoppers admit. The key is an easy-to-understand flow that’s not overwhelming and doesn’t force customers into something they don’t want to do (like registering for an account).
So, what about the brick-and-mortar store—is it dead?
Nope. Not dead. Many shoppers also like to buy online and pick up products in-store, which is an additional opportunity for a secondary purchase. This option has increased significantly since the pandemic started; as of May 2021, nearly 75% of shoppers said they would continue using BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) once COVID-19 regulations are eased.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “BOPIS in particular can help retailers boost in-store sales while still providing the experience that today’s (and tomorrow’s) customers want. That is because unlike other digital channels, BOPIS both offers the advantages of digital shopping and encourages customers to continue to engage with brick-and-mortar stores.”
Here’s the key takeaway for brands looking to diversify their retail strategy: the opportunity to capitalize on shifting consumer behavior (and the impulsive nature of the online shopper) is too great to ignore, and your online experience should support a sizable portion of your business.
Kreber is an experienced creative partner with a best-in-class team that knows the ins, outs, and in-betweens of ecommerce strategy. We’ve helped brands of all sizes build robust ecommerce experiences, including enhanced product content, social media content, and more—bringing the brick-and-mortar experience to bigger and better life online.
Drop us a line, and get in touch. We’d love to help take your sales to the next level.