Not only will the COVID-19 pandemic be one of the defining events of 2020, but its secondary implications will, too. Supply chains have been turned on their heads. Airport security has added temperature checks and sanitation to the already-complex requirements. And, of course, the consumer shopping experience has moved online on a global scale.
Online sales worldwide climbed 71% year-over-year in Q2 2020, and there’s no sign of slowing down. Consumers have been forced to adopt online shopping due to lockdowns and business closures, thereby accelerating the move to ecommerce that had already been impacting the market for years.
Additional changes in consumer behavior came with the move to shopping online, too. For example, bulk-buying and marketplace loyalty have caused truly market-shaking shifts. People are changing what they buy, when, and how.
Brands and sellers have had to adapt just as much as consumers, too. The name of the game in 2020 was to meet changing consumer needs. This flexibility was more natural for some businesses while it broke others. By the end of the year, the internet is nonetheless filled with ecommerce brands at varying stages of development, each vying for their piece of the pie.
Here are simple steps to take to stand out after the 2020 boom in ecommerce. Cut through the noise, and your foothold online could become a sizable footprint.
Step 1: Provide multiple delivery options
Trends are made up by individual people, and those people have every shade of quirks and preferences when you get down to the granular level. Just look at the trend for needing “faster and faster delivery options” that hit a high note this year. In the face of universal online shopping, most consumers were drawn to the ecommerce sellers and marketplaces where faster delivery was possible. The immediate gratification of an in-store purchase was being sorely missed, and this was the market’s response.
On the granular level, however, those same consumers wanting “faster and faster delivery” want that delivery to come in different forms, such as:
- Same-day shipping
- Courier delivery
- Curbside pickup
- BOPIS (“buy online, pick-up in store”)
BOPIS and curbside became especially popular in 2020 for local brands who didn’t already have an ecommerce infrastructure set up. But the model stuck, and many consumers prefer it. Products get into their hands faster. They can also reject and immediately refund the item on receipt if it isn’t what they had in mind. Businesses benefit from it, too, by saving on packing and delivery costs.
None of these delivery options are mutually exclusive, either. In fact, that’s actually the point. Consumers want to choose how they receive their products, because navigating from your ecommerce site to another to find a similar product is easy. It’s up to you to offer the delivery options that will keep them engaged until they click the final button and buy.
2020 is defined by delivery-model sales of all kinds. With this in mind, be sure to have fun creating the unboxing experience they’ll never forget, no matter how the product makes it to them.
Step 2: Enrich your product data
Product data is no longer just what you store on inventory spreadsheets. It’s a living, breathing body of information that has to feed your ecommerce presence across multiple channels with the most complete and correct product listing information possible.
With the increased competition in ecommerce in 2020, product data that was previously considered “essential” (like titles, descriptions and metadata) aren’t enough to stand out from the crowd. New kinds of product data and content have captivated shoppers and helped fill in the gaps that in-store shopping left behind. To remain competitive, these kinds of product data are now essential, too.
For example, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that big and small businesses alike are working into their product pages. Imagine a couch you can insert into your living room with the same technology used to play Pokémon Go. Or picture your product being applied to a popular Snapchat filter where users “try on” whatever it is you sell, only to discover later they can buy the real thing.
Don’t let this intimidate you—AR might sound like advanced product content, but there are other forms of enriched product data that are making waves in ecommerce, too. For example:
- 3D photos and product “tours”
- Product videos
- Whole libraries of product photos from different angles
- Product photos with overlays providing more information
While content marketing gets users to your product page, it’s ultimately your product data within the listing that gets them to convert. Basic product data includes your SKUs, dimensions, descriptions and more. The product data integral to conversions after a year like this one, though, is enriched product data.
Managing all your product data in one place becomes a “must” once you’re selling on multiple channels, especially as you start weaving enriched content into the mix. All that product data has to be stored somewhere, so you can optimize it, ensure its accuracy, and group it into the subsets that you plan to load on each platform or online marketplace. For this, ecommerce businesses use PIM technology (product information management).
Properly managed product data will help you stand out by:
- Getting you better SEO
- Maximizing your user experience on every channel (see what happens if you don’t)
- Making your products easier to interact with
Step 3: Know your avatar
A customer avatar is the outline of the “ideal person” you’re trying to sell to. The purpose of mapping this information out is to provide marketers with better context to target and market to that “avatar.”
The 2020 boom in ecommerce changed a lot of things. For one, more people are online—read: pretty much everyone—and so it’s no longer a question of who’s online, but where they are. As consumers spent more time browsing and shopping on the web than ever in 2020 (about twice as much time as in 2019, in fact), certain trends became clear. If you know your customer avatar, you can pick through the data and make sound decisions for your brand.
For example, if you’re trying to reach Gen Z, Facebook is probably not the place for your brand. This younger generation is consuming more social content (and shopping more on social networks) than any other, however the principal platforms are Snapchat and Instagram.
Millennials, on the other hand, are on Facebook along with Generation X. That said, Millennials are characterized by being more conservative in their spending as a result of the pandemic, while Generation X are less concerned and continue spending about the same as before.
Baby Boomers are buying online, too, but for most of them it’s a habit they’re still adjusting to. Facebook is a good platform for this group.
Standing out under normal circumstances is hard enough, and with the year we’ve had, it’s only natural that 2020 has brought new hurdles to stand out in the saturated world of ecommerce. Many brands would still like to think that the quality of products and customer service should be enough to make waves, but this year we’ve seen that many other factors hang in the balance of successful ecommerce.
These tips will help you assess 2020 trends and gear up for next year!