The ‘New Normal’ In Digital Commerce – How Retailers Should Respond

By Chris Baldwin, VP Marketing, Zoovu

In the past two months, retailers have had to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt their business strategies to survive, amidst store closures and the need to protect employees, communities and customers and comply with government guidelines. The fallout has been huge – March may have been the worst month in 25 years for in-store sales. Ecommerce sales, however, have continued to soar as consumers turn to digital channels to buy the products they need, from pet food to exercise equipment or groceries.

What is ‘the New Normal’?

COVID-19 has brought about years’ worth of digital transformation in a number of weeks. The pandemic has forced customers to shop for goods and services in new ways – and for many – these behaviours will form new habits that will last long after any lockdown is lifted, including spending more time searching and buying products online, that they normally would have relied on brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers must be equipped to respond to a new swarth of consumers who need retailers to offer increased guidance and assistance when shopping online to alleviate unnecessary stress and complexity.

Your #1 priority should be offering guidance and assistance

According to the most recent research from Zoovu and Researchscape, consumers expect support and guidance from the brands and retailers that they transact with, to make their shopping experience productive and simple. The study found that 64% of respondents believe it’s important for brands to provide them with guidance online and 84% of respondents wished that searching for a product on a website could identify their needs and narrow down results to 5-10 choices. Now more than ever, consumers need support and simplicity when shopping online, especially for particularly complex products or ones that they are not familiar with.

It is therefore essential for retailers and brands to provide new levels of guidance online to help consumers navigate a new digital-commerce-first reality, making the process of searching and finding products online like a conversation, replicating the in-store experience to make it feel more human. In doing so, you ensure consumers are able to find the products they need quickly and easily, with 24/7 assistance, in a language they understand and can engage with, and that recognizes each individual consumer’s needs and circumstances.

Why acting today may save tomorrow

As more consumers are forced to shop online to stay safe, they will inevitably habituate searching and buying products online, even in product categories that they may not have previously considered. Retailers must shift their commerce priorities, not only to act as an emergency buffer and guidance to what is happening today, but to ultimately provide long-term value to consumers, for when the world eventually gets back to normal.

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