Since March of 2020, the pandemic has turned the consumer market upside down. But are these changes for the better? According to BigCommerce, “67% of consumers report that they shop differently now due to COVID-19.” That statistic alone is enough to get e-commerce business owners hustling to become more inclusive.
With online shopping options now obligatory, the retail market has been forced to step up its game. In an effort to stay relevant, other industries are also changing the way they attract consumers. As the market continues to accommodate new consumer demands, we get to see how companies have begun to shift their focus to integrating with technology.
The pandemic caused consumers to rethink their values. With more time spent at home, trusted brands were thrown into the deep end, scrambling to shift to an online presence. Other brands, new and old, were already prepared for the shift and met consumer expectations faster, leading the way as millions of their competitors made the switch.
The Internet is no stranger to variety, and that includes e-commerce. Competition is on the rise, and many Millennials and GenZ admit that they are always searching for better brands to meet their needs.
Immediately following the start of lockdown in 2020, the classic brick-and-mortar businesses suffered a massive blow. For grocery stores, though demand was up, it was a major challenge to serve customers while maintaining safe social distancing and hygiene standards. The market was forced to come up with a solution to accommodate every consumer as quickly as possible.
Brands such as Instacart and Amazon’s Whole Foods began to thrive, causing other retail and grocery stores like Walmart and Target to follow suit. In the race to maintain relevance, Walmart is even expected to surpass Amazon this year in sales.
Food and grocery delivery quickly became the norm for most people, but the solution wasn’t perfect. Some people weren’t in a position to accept delivery services. This brings us to the next consumer expectation.
Click and Collect—In-Store or Curbside Pickup
We saw the world of e-commerce become something bigger than an online presence. No matter where you were shopping, you saw ads or signs for “curbside pickup” and “buy online, pick up in-store.” Picking up your purchases added convenience to the consumer experience.
The world of Click and Collect—whether in-store or just outside—eliminated what had become unsustainable methods of consumption, such as waiting in long lines and searching for goods in large buildings. It also began to highlight another fundamental piece of new-age e-commerce.
Contactless Payment Options
We’ve seen how the pandemic has brought an increase in online transactions, but as the world began to slowly open back up, new technology was introduced to make in-person transactions as contactless as possible.
Sleek new card machines and payment via mobile devices emerged to ease people’s nerves and make the whole payment process that much more seamless. Even self-check-out options became the preferred method of transaction.
Online retail for both clothing and various home goods reached an all-time high. As more and more people spent more and more time on social media, apps like Instagram launched a shopping tab to keep users on the app longer. Done with waiting, consumers needed an instant way to get the brands they were looking for, and Internet giants and small businesses alike were more than happy to jump on the new trend.
An Online/In-Person Hybrid Experience
The pandemic also birthed a time of innovation, prompting retailers to create a shopping experience like no other. If you walk into Reformation or the new Amazon Style store, you will be greeted by associates, ready with their tablets and racks full of sample items.
Simply go to one of the associates, point out what you want, and it will be delivered directly to your own personal dressing room. Need a different size or style? There is even a tablet inside the dressing room, providing access to the entire store catalogue through an online medium. And yes, whatever you choose will be delivered to a closet inside the room.
It is curated experiences like these that have opened a window to the future. It has proved that technology improves consumerism, and it’s here to stay. Who knows what other possibilities are in store?
Consumer expectations hold a lot of weight in e-commerce. It is the very force that drives innovation and opens a world of new opportunities. So, to answer the question, in the beginning, has the pandemic changed e-commerce for the better? We certainly think so.
We are approaching the horizon of a new age in technology. It’s changing the way we shop and how we view our time for the better. There is always more to learn about post-pandemic life. Check out retailers-online for more thought-provoking content on technology, business tactics, social media, and more! And for the full Linkeo experience, click to read our story at Linkeo.ca.