Countries around the world are containing the spread of Coronavirus by urging people to stay at home as much as possible and to practice social distancing when public spaces are unavoidable. As a result, businesses have had to fundamentally rethink how they connect with customers.
People everywhere are relying on the internet to keep connected to friends, family and colleagues. Retailers have had to adapt in real time to find new ways to keep open lines of communication with their customers, fulfill orders, and deliver products safely.
As people suddenly line up outside to enter grocery stores, staying six feet apart from each other and wearing protective masks, the very act of making purchases feels viscerally different. Some experts think this could result in permanent changes to our psyche. But most agree that the world will likely be a very different place after lockdown finally ends.
The Coronavirus has forced companies to adopt and strengthen their digital approach. Online retailers with an ecommerce plan in place before lockdown can’t get complacent when it’s over, as consumer behaviors are changing rapidly and need to be constantly monitored and met.
Ecommerce purchases are surging due to so many people staying home for weeks on end, and it is likely that these new, deeply ingrained shopping habits will continue forward even when things return to normal. For a glimpse into the future of ecommerce, we can learn from how savvy online businesses are using today’s modern ecommerce platforms to find new ways to flexibly accept payments, nimbly connect with consumers, and deliver products seamlessly and safely.
Online companies looking to be future-proof need three tools: advanced reporting tools to understand how online buying habits change in real time; AI-driven revenue maximization tools to meet these demands effectively and efficiently; and intelligent security that can scale up as business continues to grow.
It’s impossible to meet consumers’ needs and wants unless retailers know precisely what they are, especially when consumer behavior is changing so rapidly.
Industry leading ecommerce platforms give a unified view of customer behaviour at every touchpoint in real time, allowing online retailers to stay up to date as purchasing patterns evolve. The sticky.io platform offers more than 20 analytics dashboards providing a wealth of macro and micro data.
It’s easy to zoom into each dashboard and get comprehensive stats at ground-level for every individual customer, or pull back and get a broader perspective of an online retailer’s overall economic health and customer lifecycles.
The platform presents crucial metrics so they can be seen at a glance, and it also depicts complex data with clear visualizations. Company decision makers get actionable intelligence immediately.
It’s not enough to know that old assumptions about consumers will be unreliable in the post-Coronavirus world. Managers and executives need the tools to make data-driven decisions about a rapidly changing matrix of attitudes and consumer needs.
Smart and comprehensive data is what enables companies to accurately tailor their marketing, branding, sales processing, personalization efforts, and other aspects of their business so it’s aligned with each consumer.
The Coronavirus is currently causing such a surge of online shopping that stores are struggling to meet demands, but online retailers have new challenges too. People are understandably sensitive about receiving products through physical exchanges, so websites need to clearly outline the steps the company has taken to make the logistical details of this exchange safe. For this reason, user experience is crucial right now.
People will genuinely appreciate a user experience that lets them smoothly sidestep any potential anxiety related to the pick-up process. Human-centric UX design is an opportunity to strengthen customer relationships.
Even before the Coronavirus, consumers had dramatically increased expectations about every stage of online purchasing, from branding to checkout. UX is more important than ever now, so it’s essential to get the reporting and analytics tools which let you design for customers you understand.
The best platforms identify who ecommerce customers really are by processing their shared characteristics, and then segmenting them into buckets. With Smart Tags and Predictive Analytics, ecommerce platforms sort customers into groups according to the lifetime value they present.
Companies can learn about new consumer behaviour by examining past data. Find out precisely who your customers are and what they really want by assessing them along multiple criteria:
Advanced profiling from the start of the process increases customer conversions, improves retention, and reduces churn rate. Plus, online retailers use this intelligence to closely gauge the effectiveness of every marketing campaign, marketing channel and product category.
Just like online retailers grow sales by tracking changing consumption patterns, they need to keep the ever-changing landscape in mind when planning new marketing campaigns.
Companies can increase customer loyalty by giving their customers a unified online and offline experience that is safe, seamless and accurately reflects their demographic. A bump on the road can alienate potential customers and sour them on the brand.
Online retailers need sensitivity and reliable data when sharing marketing content with consumers during the Coronavirus, as people are experiencing various kinds of struggles, and messaging seen as too commercial or showing only token concern for their challenges is liable to result in online backlash. Modern reporting and analytics features give companies the knowledge about their consumers to help prevent this from happening.
Many online retailers are turning to Headless Commerce to respond to these changing consumer needs seamlessly and quickly. In Headless Commerce, the front-end and the backend of the platform are decoupled, enabling UX designers and an online retailer’s creatives to quickly change what consumers see on every screen without requiring backend technical support.
This pivot lets online retailers brand themselves effortlessly and with more agility, and sell products in any way that their consumers prefer to shop. But the creatives and UX designers need to be guided by the latest intelligence to produce the most relevant content.
Having a quick turnaround time when it comes to modifying or updating web content is a powerful asset, but it needs to be guided by intelligent data or it won’t reflect your demographic. Otherwise, promoting the wrong kind of content can actually backfire, and this type of damage can be hard to undo.
Modern online retailers know the competition is not just over who has the best product — it’s also about having the best combination of branding and user experience. Intelligence has always played a crucial role in business, but as the technological tools providing it have improved, online retailers need to keep up with ever-increasing consumer expectations.
While ecommerce has always been on the frontline of technological advancement, the Coronavirus has accelerated the breathtaking pace of that evolution even more. The best ecommerce platforms give online retailers all the knowledge they need to stay ahead in a changing world.
Online retailers need to ensure they can operate with maximum flexibility in the post-Coronavirus world, but without any compromise in security. The sticky.io platform meets the criteria for PCI DSS Level 1 security, the highest standard that the major credit cards can expect.
Modern ecommerce security is both robust and flexible. For example, the best ecommerce platforms offer world-class security while also allowing online retailers to manually adjust security settings for each separate campaign, product and more.
It might seem counterintuitive, but security that is too rigid and inflexible can result in reduced revenue. In ecommerce, the average rate of online fraud is 0.9%, whereas the average decline rate is 2.6%. This discrepancy of 1.7% represents legitimate customers wrongfully rejected due to excessive security.
For a company that earns $25 million in annual sales, this 1.7% differential represents 9,000 orders. An enterprise-grade ecommerce platform that prevents this revenue from slipping through the cracks is a powerful security tool. Revenue maximization means security that keeps fraudsters away, while also minimizing the number of genuine customers that are rejected.
Security this nuanced and strong protects not just the transactions themselves, but also any sensitive financial information, as well as confidential employee and customer data. This is crucial, as companies may find it difficult or even impossible to recover from the financial and reputational damage that comes from suffering a major, high-profile information breach.
Having sensitive information stolen or hacked can pose operational challenges, and as many as 78% of businesses have suffered at least one breach over the last two years. Depending on the nature of the industry, the failure to keep confidential information private may make companies vulnerable to lawsuits.
Finally, online authentications and verifications need to work so quickly that consumers don’t even notice the process. The best platforms complete verification in milliseconds, so it’s imperceptible to consumers.
Every online retailer encounters cybercrime eventually. It’s important to invest in enterprise-grade security right from the beginning, rather than scramble to secure your company just when business begins to take off and when sales growth should be prioritized.
Fear, stress and anxiety around the Coronavirus is a complex, multidimensional problem which involves every stratum of society. Companies navigating the post-Coronavirus future are wise to do everything possible to make their business comfortable and stress-free for their customers. Smart and strong security that safeguards sensitive data and all transactions is essential.
Ecommerce platforms have powerful tools that consumers will genuinely appreciate, even as they also benefit online retailers by effortlessly preventing revenue from needlessly slipping away. For example, industry leading ecommerce platforms have an Account Updater feature which ensures customer payment details are accurate before each rebilling cycle.
This way, customers in a subscription model don’t need to manually re-enter their payment information every time their card expires or gets misplaced. This spares them aggravation and ensures there’s no interruption to the ongoing monthly sale.
The sticky.io platform can prevent 4% of credit cards from disappearing from your monthly subscribers list due to expiry, and successfully rebills on average about 80% of these cardholders. The platform can also confirm that the mailing address is correct, preemptively smoothing out a common delivery mishap that weakens customer relationships and costs businesses money to correct.
Imagine how differently a customer in self-isolation will feel about a company if they can sit back, confident that their badly needed order will arrive according to schedule, versus the anxiety they may feel as they wait, hoping it will come. Delivery-related hiccups understandably cause customers to feel aggravation.
Payment Routing features ensure that failed payments can be automatically routed to a backup payment gateway, deftly dodging a processing problem before the customer is even aware a failure has occurred. Online retailers must make it as easy as possible to accept payments, so tools that keep all phases of transactions continually on track are a win-win for retailers and customers alike.
Companies that honor their delivery promises get rewarded with increased loyalty and retention. This dynamic is especially true during a pandemic, but it will continue long after.
The Coronavirus is changing the world on a micro and macro scale in numerous, fundamental ways. While it’s impossible to say exactly what the future will look like, companies don’t need to predict everything to see the accelerated shift to ecommerce, and that it’s wise to capitalize on the strong digital bonds growing now between consumers and online retailers.