There was never a question about whether eCommerce would “stay around,” even before the pandemic. The genie’s certainly out of the bottle now, and I doubt any of us want to live in a world without online shopping entirely -- not after 20+ years of happily browsing your favorite stores on the Internet while not having to wear anything fancier than sweatpants, that is. The question now is, with physical stores opening back up, to what degree will the eCommerce and brick-and-mortar worlds react? Will we see one rise and one fall? Where and how will customers prefer to shop, now that everyone has options again?
First up, let’s get this answer out of the way -- yes, there are quite a few consumers who are planning to shop exclusively online in the future. Hey, we can’t exactly blame them; the pandemic caused everyone to innovate rapidly, and it’s now possible to buy basically everything you could ever need on the Internet. Not that we were too far from that reality before 2020, really. But, if you’re a brick and mortar store owner, you’re probably not exactly loving that news.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though: people who say they’ll only be shopping online don’t make up the largest segment of the market. Customers who will resume buying things IRL, or who will predominantly buy online but are still open to visiting a physical location, do outnumber them. So it’s our working theory that both eCommerce and traditional storefronts will see a boost as people get back outside -- if businesses prepare properly.
What do we mean by preparing properly? The nature of doing business has been irrevocably altered, and there’s a lot more you need to take into account, but you better do it quick: After all, people are heading back to work, and you know what that means -- they’re going to want to spend some of that money! Here are three key tips to keep in mind so you’re positioned to do as well as possible when your area fully reopens:
For a while, a business could get by with little-to-no online presence, but with almost 40% of respondents to recent surveys stating that they will do at least some portion of their shopping online in the future, the time to establish one is officially Now. Even if you never intend to move into the eCommerce space, you should consider that consumers have grown used to engaging with businesses digitally -- even a basic informational page with your location and hours is better than someone Googling you and finding nothing.
Of course, if you are considering a foray into eCommerce, you’re picking the right moment to do it, with roughly 30% of respondents indicating that they’ll be doing their future shopping exclusively online. You could also opt to grow your online presence through smaller moves, like creating a blog to help your SEO rankings, revamping your social media accounts, or giving your existing website a facelift. Just a handful of examples. The point is, unless you’re in a very rare spot, your business can no longer afford to have no digital identity whatsoever, so get one set up, or expand what you’re already doing.
Contactless payments saw a huge uptick in adoption throughout 2020, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, two out of every three prospective shoppers surveyed have indicated that they intend to use contactless payments whenever possible in the future. With both Apple and Google supporting contactless payments natively on their respective mobile devices and operating systems, just about everyone is now able to tap to pay, and you should highlight this awesome, speedy method as an option at your point of sale. If you’ve yet to dive into the world of contactless payments, we strongly recommend that you at least become familiar with the option. Make sure that, if you have a brick and mortar space, your payment processor is (or will be) supportive of contactless payments… or it might be time to do some shopping of your own and find a new one.
Going along with the contactless trend we’ve noted, an unprecedented number of consumers state that they’re likely to spend larger amounts overall if they are offered a seamless payment solution at checkout. So you’ll want to review your checkout processes, as well as make sure you’re offering competitive delivery options and pricing, to make sure that you’re not inadvertently complicating the process or leading customers out of the sales funnel. (Pro tip: we strongly suggest that you do this for both the mobile and desktop versions of your site -- often, customers will browse and add items to their cart on mobile, and then complete the transaction proper on desktop. You want to make sure you’re ready for customers to easily complete the sale no matter where they’re viewing your site!) Also, if your shipping isn’t fast, easy to track, and free (or close to it), customers are going to look elsewhere, so maybe it’s time you had a chat with your logistics department and see how you can hook that up.
Hopefully we haven’t said anything here that’s too surprising, and you’ve got a concrete list of items to tackle before your area reaches full open capacity again. If not, though, and you’re freaking out switching between calls with your payment processor, your shipping service, your kinda-techy friend who made a website back in 10th grade, your therapist, and your mom -- well, we think there’s only one call you really need to make.