The Future Is Here: When Online Shopping Becomes the Only Channel
The COVID-19 global pandemic brings with it a new reality—a “new normal.” As more people around the world are confined to the walls of their homes due to government restrictions and distancing rules, several retailers have begun closing their doors in response. This presents an opportunity for eCommerce businesses as the global crisis has driven shoppers to shift their shopping habits online. Compared to the previous year, there have been rising transaction volumes online, especially in the home products, DIY products, garden essentials, electronics, and telco industries.
How Companies Can Cope
Arguably, online remains the only feasible channel, and pure-play eCommerce and Omnichannel businesses would be remiss to not leverage this shift in customer behavior. Brands and stores need to quickly roll out intelligent, personalized online shopping experiences that meet customer expectations—or risk losing them for good.
Here are a few ways companies can deal with this new reality by leveraging AI and data.
Make the Most of Your Online Channel—Now
Now is the time to enhance communications with your customers via online channels, including social media, email, and online groups. Everyone is facing tough times ahead, and it’s a time for uncertainty for businesses around the world.
Letting your customers know that you’re open for business provides a sense of reassurance and helps them remember your brand. It’s also worth noting that, despite the global crisis, there are still some who have disposable income because their spending habits are limited. Ensure that these people know that you’re open and ready for business.
Balance the Shopper’s Experience With What Makes Business Sense for You
As a business, it’s vital that you know what your brand stands for, especially in the eyes of your customers. Your brand can make or break your business, so you should always know how it affects customer perception.
How you reach out and communicate with customers play a large role in how your brand is perceived, including your advertising, customer service, social media presence, and public relations. Gathering Voice of Customer (VoC) data through online surveys, focus group discussions, social media mentions, and checking user reviews will help you measure the gap between what your customers expect and what they actually experience when they use your products or services.
Enable Shoppers to Find, Explore, and Buy Products Intuitively
For years, online and mobile have been a lucrative channel, and right now is an excellent, and also crucial, time to enhance these channels and ensure that you provide a seamless experience to customers.
Redesign your online store if necessary, putting your customers first and designing your store to address customer needs and support them throughout the entire shopping experience. Check if your website provides enough visual feedback and product details, an intuitive checkout process, and ample payment options.
Slow loading times are also a source of frustration for customers; keep your website simple and usable. Usability is a better gauge of a website’s performance than, and it ensures that customers stay and shop in your online store.
Deliver Personalized Product and Content Recommendations for Each Shopper
Online retail stores are no strangers to personalized recommendations, thanks to Amazon, which is considered to be its progenitor. According to the tech giant’s executives, approximately 35% of the company’s revenue is directly related to its product recommendation engine.
You can leverage Big Data to achieve something similar; you can use a customer’s search history, purchase history, and a history of products customers placed in the cart as predictors of customer behavior. You can use them to create customer cohorts to help you improve your overall customer journey. Proper categorization and tagging of products also allows you to pair related products together so customers need not search for products that they may also need or want to purchase alongside another product.
The global pandemic has pushed both consumers and businesses into a new reality—one where online channels are arguably the only practical potion left when it comes to getting and providing needed products and services.
As offline retailers close their doors, their online counterparts must prepare to take their place. The market landscape may have changed drastically, but most customer needs remain the same, and those are what need to be addressed. After all, isn’t that one of the pillars of a successful business?