Look at those e-commerce metrics! None of which are not at all surprising at this point. Simply put, with 95% of the US population impacted by stay-at-home restrictions, online is absorbing the offline retail economy at the moment.

 

The surge of page visits and orders are making e-commerce marketers look really good! Power Reviews data shows orders are up over 200% over the beginning of March.

Is this the new normal?

No. This is an opportunity. The new normal is coming.

As Louis Columbus of Forbes says: “COVID-19 will forever change retailing”. E-Commerce and online retailers’ supply chains, order management, and fulfillment systems are all being tested by the triple-digit order and revenue growth going on today.”

While online shopping will replace store visits at least until a vaccine is available, that replacement is not permanent. The trend for online shopping to increase its market share will certainly continue. Last year, e-commerce had penetration of 16% of $21T total retail sales. (Digital Commerce 360). After the pandemic, the rate will be higher than last year, but not the current 27%.

But, the Online Shopping Experience Is Still Pretty Bad

The truth is that many of your customers think that the current online shopping experience could use a lot of improvement. 

They are buying much more now, but the issues that limited e-commerce until recently have not gone away. They have only been overridden by the extraordinary times we temporarily live in.

Which brings us to the point of this article — the influx of shoppers to online stores presents a huge opportunity for e-commerce retailers. Right now, more consumers are doing more online shopping. They are on your site and buying. Will they continue to be your customers in a year? Delivering a great shopping experience and converting those new shoppers on your site into long-term loyal customers is much easier and cheaper now than convincing them to even try your store during normal business times. 

Adapt to Survive  Invest to Thrive

In-store shopping will rebound after the pandemic subsides. The new normal will certainly have a higher online shopping penetration than last year’s 16%, but less than the current 27%.

The opportunity right now is simple. Turn the additional, but temporary, “Covid-19 shoppers” into loyal, long-term customers by investing energy and resources into improving their online customer experience. Of course, this goes counter to the tendency of retailers with both brick-and-mortar and online. Given the large reduction of in-store revenue, the prudent course is to reduce all spending. And, in the absence of a strategic plan for e-commerce, that makes sense.

However, the most competitive online retailers, e.g. Amazon and Walmart, understand that this is the moment to be investing heavily in the shopping experience. Those retailers and brands that do invest will be the leaders for the new normal. As Brian Yarbrough, an analyst with Edward Jones said of Walmart: “Their investments and the commitment they’ve made to online are paying off. They’re a very strong No. 2 player to Amazon“.

 

Vioby Personalized Conversational Shopping

Vioby has been working with retailers to develop branded personalized conversational shopping that deliver great shopping experiences for their customers. The intelligent interactive conversations with shoppers use voice and text modalities and integrate our client’s retail data. We leverage our long experience in enterprise-scale voice-interactive systems coupled with our e-commerce marketing automation technology. Our video of voice shopping shows how a shopper can browse large retailer catalogs to find and purchase the items they want.

Are you a retailer or agency working with retailers? We’d be glad to explore partnering with you and your team to define, create and deploy a great brand-centric voice shopping experience for your customers.

Mike Krasner is a co-founder of Vioby, a Boston-area developer of AI-based marketing automation tools for e-commerce retailers and their agencies. 

Click here to learn more about Vioby.