Post-pandemic Recovery Will Mean Embracing E-commerce
The pandemic has forced companies and individuals to alter their habits. And some of those habits appear to be here to stay.
Everyone began shopping online, meaning retailers and wholesalers that didn’t already have a reliable online presence suffered—and some of them simply vanished. And the process made it apparent that businesses—especially retail—needed to invest in contactless methods for customers to shop. Because COVID wasn’t the blip that many thought it would be.
According to some estimates, the pandemic accelerated e-commerce adoption by two years. Everyone not deemed essential had to close their doors and try to keep their businesses alive in a suddenly broader digital landscape. In the US alone, e-commerce surged by 32% in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Humans are habitual creatures. Do something long enough and it becomes the norm. Here are some of the things that have become normal and even expected since the spring of 2020.
Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and more were all allowed to stay open. But that didn’t mean business as usual. The CDC encouraged consumers to stop using touch screens and pin pads or stop using them altogether.
Suddenly it didn’t matter if your business was allowed to stay open—because you could no longer accept payments. This forced many to speed up—or in some cases get started—their digital transformations.
Stores and shoppers have adjusted to new behavior, and there is no going back. This means if your business was shuttered and just beginning to reopen to a –hopefully—post-pandemic world, you need to adapt to what your customers now expect and may even demand.
Improved Payment Methods
Changes didn’t stop at how customers paid and interacted face-to-face. The pandemic brought about changes, or accelerated changes already in the making, around how consumers shopped and paid online.
Card payments—both credit and debit—continue to be the most popular method of online payments. However, COVID brought about a 43% increase in people who use digital wallets. In some places, this type of payment method is now more popular than either debit or credit cards. Direct bank transfers and the use of cryptocurrency also saw an increase.
One survey says only 14% of consumers didn’t change their payment habits since the pandemic started.
How is your business adapting? Do you even know what a digital wallet or cryptocurrency is? Are you looking into accepting them as payment methods?
Store owners needed to adapt and find new ways to keep their businesses going during the pandemic. Curbside pickup suddenly became the norm—for businesses that were already set up for online payments.
Curbside pickup meant customers could order anything from McDonald's to a new kitchen sink, pay for it online, and then go pick it up. Bigger retailers adapted to this quickly, but it took smaller retailers much longer. Likely because they didn’t have the processes in place that allowed them to pivot.
What to Expect Post-COVID
Marketers are pointing out how consumer behavior is evolving post-pandemic. They’re prepared, or busy preparing. Are you?
Here is one major trend to be aware of.
Hesitancy Around In-Store Shopping
Many people will have a wait-and-see attitude. In fact, the results of a Global Web Index survey say 50% won’t return to stores “for some time” or “for a long time” until after the pandemic ends.
No one is saying that brick-and-mortar stores will remain empty, but they should expect to see reduced traffic well into 2022.
What does all the above underscore? We were already well on the path to being a digital-first economy, but the pandemic increased the pace to get there. For businesses to survive and thrive, they’ll need to pick up their pace as well. If they haven’t done so already, implementing an e-commerce platform is the place to start.