Analysis: Is E-Commerce the Way to Go After Covid-19?

Summary

In a world-changing series of events, the coronavirus has changed multiple aspects of society – including consumer behavior in big and small ways. Of course, retailers have to respond accordingly, or they too will be consumed by the lasting effects of the pandemic. This blog will tackle the significant and widespread industry shift towards e-commerce, and why it’s slowly becoming the most practical way to go for both merchants and customers in a post-virus future.

If we have learned one thing from the calamitous year that was 2020, it’s that things can change in one snap of a finger – changes we thought we had decades to prepare for, habits we assumed we’d stick to forever, expectations we have of ourselves and the society we live in. 2020 has proven itself, time and again, to be world-changing – in terms of the way we live, the way we work, and the way we shop and buy as consumers.

But perhaps the most significant effect of Covid-19 on retail and commerce is the realization that, for many of us, geographical location has been rendered irrelevant – so long as you’re connected to the internet. In fact, this flexibility was only fully realized after the pandemic decimated brick-and-mortar foot traffic by more than 60 percent, while 43 percent of shoppers started to rely on online shops for products they would’ve previously bought in physical stores. Consequently, this sudden shift towards e-commerce allows more consumers to move away from metropolises.

The virus also catapulted e-commerce strategies – at an almost overnight pace – from a perpetual yet stagnant “top priority” status on every retailer’s short-to-long term plan to a desperately needed lifeline that could potentially save them from the economic distress caused by the great lockdown. Small-to-midsize retailers in the US collectively poured in a staggering $10 billion in e-commerce infrastructure, investments, acquisitions, and partnerships from May to July 2020.

Essentially, the first year of the 2020 virus pandemic accelerated previously existing, but stalled, efforts to innovate the retail landscape. For most, however, the series of events that have unfolded last year spurred an imminent reset of the way businesses think about consumers’ needs and the future of e-commerce.

Moving forward, what experience do you want to
create for your consumers?

To be successful in e-commerce,
you need to think bigger than e-commerce.

Instead of asking yourself “What e-commerce investments do I need to make?” you should be contemplating about “What consumer experience do you want to offer in the new normal?”

This realization comes as a shock for many retailers who have long had a mentality that’s rooted firmly in brick-and-mortar commerce. Then again, Covid-19 has only emphasized and established the reality that consumer experience is rapidly evolving from one that’s built upon in-store shopping to almost personal, ongoing, enriching, and digital business-to-consumer relationships. It’s like drawing a journey map together with your consumer – one that is highly dependent on the other, reaping mutual benefits for both businesses and customers.

So for retailers to offer compelling consumers experiences, they must understand the future set anew, even forcibly, by the coronavirus pandemic. Undeniably, e-commerce is an unequivocally vital piece of that future.

How can retailers know if they fit into this
imminent future painted by a few all-powerful
players and a global pandemic?

Here are some core questions to help define your investments and business model decisions:

• Do you have a dynamic, intuitive e-commerce platform that understands that every consumer journey
and experience is unique?
• Is your key organizational structure free of obstacles – which isolate e-commerce, core operations,
supply chains, and marketing – that interrupt the experience?
• How can you be price-competitive and still maintain margin? How can you drive sales and purchases in
an online environment? What role do store architecture and merchandising play in this?
• How do you seamlessly orchestrate the consumer experience from digital to physical and back again?
• And ultimately, how would you maintain the experience all the way to consumers’ doorsteps?

Always Open Commerce helps you answer these key questions and provide adaptive solutions to ensure your business will fit perfectly in a post-virus future. We help retailers think bigger than e-commerce – not just out-of-the-box clichés that sometimes fail to reflect real-world growth. Here at AOC, we’ll help you set realistic and reasonable goals that your business can achieve slowly but surely – one by one in a smooth, upward projectile.

Regardless of how consumer behavior continues to change, businesses must be prepared to innovate and develop stronger, deeper relationships with their loyalists – both online and in person.

E-commerce in a Post-Virus World – Part 2

Learn how businesses cope up with the changing e-commerce landscape.


With the global vaccine rollout facing major slumps in small-to-midsize economies, experts predict that the world will not return to normal until the warmer months of 2022, according to an article published by The Atlantic. So with a full year ahead of us, how can e-commerce businesses endure these uncertain times? Here’s what online stores do to stay afloat.

Sell to the post-virus market.

Offer Discounts and Incentives!

  • 73% of top online retailers are running sales regularly.
  • 40% is the median discount rate across all active sales.
  • 90% of customers say free shipping is the most in-demand perk, so more businesses are adding this incentive to their stores.

Market at the Right Place

Since Day 1 of the pandemic, people flock to social networking sites more than ever. Facebook Marketplace has a potential market reach of 2.7 billion monthly users, though that’s a highly inorganic number. Still, marketers predict that Marketplace will soon become the Internet’s leading market listing platform, overtaking current titleholder Craigslist.

  • U.S. online orders in market listing platforms increased 56% YoY
  • Mobile sales expected to drop globally by 5% in 2021-2022
  • Podcast downloads are down 20%

The coronavirus is here to stay.
So must your business.

Just like the major pandemics of the past, Covid-19 may never go away, health experts say. People will only have to develop immunity against the virus. As we wait for the vaccine rollout to trigger herd immunity, the world needs to carry on and continue doing business as usual.

For online businesses to stay profitable and maintain growth, they have to:

  • Adapt to meet changing customer needs
  • Sell thoughtfully to the right market
  • Stay safe

We can help! AOC’s mission is to assist online businesses in achieving stability and maintain growth.

Tell us your story. We’re interested! Visit this page and let’s talk about your business’ success amidst this pandemic.

The Technologies that Will Shape the Future of Ecommerce

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”—Arthur C. Clarke

Who would’ve thought that we’ll be developing a form of technology so advanced it can replicate human consciousness and has the potential to become self-aware? Okay, well, we’re not there yet—but it’s so close it can be a bit overwhelming if not frightening. Thankfully, the world’s visionaries have found ways to trickle down these massive, bleeding-edge techs into something more applied and practical. Most importantly, technology benefitted the way we do business.

          Technological developments have made a tremendous impact on the world of commerce, transforming the way consumers interact with businesses and empowering them to identify which brand fits their wants and their budget. When electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, was introduced during the early 1980s, public reception was lukewarm at best. Not because the world hasn’t fully exploited the potential of the Internet, but because it defies the concept of shopping—weekends at the mall, lunch with the fam, you get it—that sort of mushy stuff that accompanies brick-and-mortar shopping. Ecommerce faced an opposition founded on family-based traditions, and it was almost wiped out until technology took over the steering wheel before the end of the 20th century.

          Today, the Internet is a busy marketplace. Millions of customers are ordering online from electronic shopping platforms (ex. eCommerce websites) as the can get anything from undergarments to mattresses to coffees right at their doorsteps. And as the commercial landscape continues to evolve yearly, new opportunities for businesses are emerging.

 For you to stay ahead of the curve, you must educate yourself about the latest technological trends in eCommerce, and how you can utilize them to your advantage.
Chatbots

        Fathom CEO and founder Gareth Dunlop predicts that virtual assistants – chatbots – will be integrated to more than 25 percent of all customer support services by 2020.

          Kelly Vaughn, founder of The Taproom Agency, supports Dunlop’s forecast, “Customers want prompt and accurate answers to their inquiries, and in busy times, eCommerce merchants are not always able to keep up with the rate of messages coming in. Thankfully, chatbots are getting smarter, and I expect to see this trend to continue upward.”

          Neural networks allow tools like chatbots to get a better understanding of how humans interact with machines—in which case, what questions are being asked most frequently when customers shop online. Because AIs are modeled after the human brain, machines have ‘somehow’ developed the ability to parse customer data for deeper personalization of support experience to a specific customer.

          “Advice is probably obvious here—if you haven’t tried using a chatbot on your online store, give one a test run,” says Kelly.

Augmented Reality

          Ever played Pokémon Go or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? These are popular mobile games, with the former being credited as the catalyst of the AR revolution. WeMakeWebsites co-founder and lead designer Piers Thorogood believes that the years of 2018, 2019, or 2020 will witness the explosion in popularity of augmented reality – way beyond its limited use to mobile games and apps.

"With tools like ‘Shopify AR powered by 3D Warehouse’ and a growing number of 3D modeling experts, it’s become extremely easy to integrate AR into eCommerce stores," Thorogood explains. He emphasized major advantages for both consumers and merchants. For the former, AR means a much richer shopping experience, getting to test out a product as if they already have it. As for the latter, this means higher conversion rates.

Ben Froedge, head of content and marketing at Shopify Plus, adds that AR is bridging the gap between the brick-and-mortar buying experience and ordering the product online.

He commented that being able to physically see the product in your home – where you want it to be placed – is a potential game-changer for shoppers. Now thousands of eCommerce businesses are combining hardware (smartphones) with applications (3D Warehouse) to integrate AR with shopping.

Future Tech

          The face of eCommerce is changing. Technological revitalizations are helping every aspect of society realize the real potential of their respective causes. At the opposite extreme lies pessimistic headlines about the dangers of uncontrolled technological advancement – that our generation is not yet ready for such drastic change in the level of 1700s Industrial Revolution. But why the grim ideals? One way or another, we’ll have to arrive on the decision that will affect us all, for better or for worse.

          Throughout this article, we have summed up the capabilities that technology can realize. Many successful e-commerce businesses invest in these technologies because it enables them to stay ahead of the curve, and to strategically heighten their success. To learn more about the latest trends in e-commerce and their practical applications to your business, we’re more than delighted to talk with you.

How to Design an E-Commerce Website that Sells

An aesthetically appealing website is nothing if it doesn’t attract conversions that lead to sales. A website is not designed to merely look good online – its main purpose is to sell.

 

 

An expensive and stunning website design doesn’t offer assurance that your e-commerce website will automatically yield sales conversions. Often, starting business owners allocate too much of their budget on website design aesthetics without putting into consideration a design that actually converts. That’s a great loss of money.

 

Your e-commerce website is more than just an artwork. It’s not only meant to appeal to customers. It’s designed to encourage engagement that will lead to a successful purchase. As an e-commerce seller, you always keep in mind the sole purpose of your website – to drive sales by converting online visitors into customers.

 

Web design is more than just the colors or the images placed by designers on your website. It is also comprised of the texts, pages, forms, and the way they are structured. But, it’s another thing to make all these website elements successfully work together to make your website useful, functional, and convenient to use for users.

 

Your e-commerce site’s web design shouldn’t only satisfy the eyes of your online visitors; it must also give them a comprehensive user experience. How? Here are some e-commerce web design tips to help you create a website that sells:

 

Make a positive first impression through your homepage.

 

The e-commerce industry is continuously growing. That means you’ll have thousands of online competitors around. That also means you need to make your online store stand out above the rest. Prioritize your homepage. It’s the first thing visitors will see on your website. You can hit or miss your 50-millisecond opportunity to create a positive first impression on your online visitors through your homepage. It only takes that short span of time to make them stay or leave.

 

Strategically plan the website elements you’ll use on your homepage. The homepage takes the most crucial role in driving visitors to take action – whether it be learning more about your products or services, subscribing to your newsletter, or browsing through your product catalog.

 

Create a simple yet interactive homepage to give your visitors a unique online experience on their first visit. A free offer or discount banner, explainer video, security seals, logos of partners, search box, live chat widget, and location and phone number are only a few of the elements you can add on your homepage. Also, declaring a “Free Shipping” offer also appeals online shoppers to make a purchase.

 

However, do not always assume that visitors will turn into customers on their first visit. But, you can make them browse a few or more pages, or come back for more. Bring your best foot forward.

 

Simplify the checkout process including the forms.

 

The simpler the processes your customers have to go through while navigating your e-commerce site, the higher their chances of staying. Likewise, make the forms on your website short and direct. Shorter forms perform better in conversions than long forms because they are easier to fill. Ask less and refrain from asking for unnecessary information and they’ll buy more.

 

Give your customers a smooth user experience (UX) by simplifying the forms and processes in your e-commerce website. You need to make sure that they can get through the checkout process in a swift. If not, your customers may resort to cart abandonment. That’s loss. So, here are some tips you can apply to simplify your e-store’s checkout process:

 

  • For the address entry, try placing the zip code form first in the address entry. From making this information available, an auto fill can generate the values for the city, state, and country – and help customers type in less.
  • For returning customers, use or create an algorithmic detection to help speed up their checkout process. As they fill in their email addresses, their records will be automatically looked up and won’t have to fill in some forms.

 

In whatever strategy you want to employ to simplify your checkout process, just make sure to avoid adding unnecessary forms you won’t actually need from your customers. You can’t risk cart abandonment. Always take note: the simpler, the better.

 

Organize your e-commerce website’s navigation bar.

 

In a website, the navigation bar is one of the most clicked areas. It’s present on every page. So, you need to make sure that the navigation in your website helps your customers and visitors easily find what they are looking for on your website. A poorly set-up and organized navigation bar often leads to a high bounce rate – one indication of the ineffectiveness of a website.

 

Position your navigation bar in an area where online visitors expect to see them. More so, you need to seriously determine which links you should include in the menu. Ask yourself this questions:

 

  • “What are the important pages in my e-commerce store?”
  • “Are there pages that can be summarized by a main menu?”
  • “Can some pages be included in the footer instead?”
  • “Does these pages drive business goals?”
  • “At which pages do I need to put focus on?”

 

Because the navigation bar plays a significant role in a website’s UX and usability, it has to be well-thought of. Here are some tips to help you design your website’s winning navigation menu:

 

  • Start with information architecture. Organize the hierarchy of your pages according to their information levels and importance.
  • Go for simplicity. Stick to the simple and obvious terms for them to be easily understood by users. The same goes for the design.
  • Standardize the navigation for all pages. Make your navigation menu consistent in all your web pages to keep users on track.

 

Create a clean yet visual and informative product page.

 

One challenge for e-commerce sellers is to give their customers a personal shopping experience even when they can’t see or touch the products in person. So, you must give them a great product page user experience to positively influence their buying decisions. Below are tips for killer product pages you can test on your e-commerce website:

 

  • Keep it clean. De-clutter your main product page for a minimalistic browsing experience. Leave only the necessary browsing elements such as product search bar, product photos, color variations, and the like. Leave the other details to the product’s individual page.
  • Consider loading speed. Slow loading pages breed impatience in potential customers and kill conversion. Refrain from providing your customers an overly designed product page and offer them with a simpler but much responsive one that loads faster instead.
  • Invest in good photos. Humans by nature are more attracted to visuals than texts. Invest in only the best photos for your product pages. Give your customers a 360-degree view of your product through photos. Make them feel like they’re seeing the product in person.
  • Write top notch copies. With a great product photo paired with a concise and convincing product description, you are most likely to sell. Write a product copy that shows how your product can address the customer’s needs. Highlight product features and use bullets.
  • Include options. To make shopping easier for the customers, include options such as color and size availability, related products, and an option to subscribe. By giving them options, they are most likely to complete their purchases without leaving their carts.
  • Strategically place CTA. Make sure that the CTA (ex. “Add to Cart”) is instantly visible to get your customers to checkout more easily. Add it right to the product price and highlight it by using a different color. Make sure your CTA grabs attention in a positive way.

 

Check your website for broken links and images.

 

A well-designed website is of no use if the images and links aren’t functioning the way they should. Before you officially launch your e-commerce website, test it and get rid of all website errors first – such as broken images and broken links. These web errors will hamper a great UX and result in poor conversion.

 

To help you get started, here are some effective ways to minimize or eliminate website errors:

 

  • Link suggestions. Readily provide or suggest specific links for users who’ll reach a dead page on your site. A dead page can piss off users.
  • 404 Redirect. If the page a user is looking for is dead, this WordPress plugin automatically redirects them to another page within your website.
  • Search feature. If users happen to reach an error page, provide them with a search feature that’ll help them search for what they want.

 

According to statistics, 77% of online users who hit a dead page or link immediately leaves a website. More than that, they are most likely to never return. To avoid these lost opportunities, make sure that all the images and links on your e-commerce site are working.

 

Lastly, regularly evaluate your e-commerce site’s design.

 

To maintain the usability and effectiveness of your website, you have to subject it to regular evaluation. Whether your web design may be found effective or not, you need to pinpoint which design element causes it.

 

To determine which areas users are clicking on your site, you can use the Crazy Egg tool. With this heat mapping tool, you can visualize exactly what your online visitors are doing on your website. Through the heat map data, you can discover which design elements you need to reprioritize or focus more on.

 

Conclusion

 

Entering the growing population of the e-commerce industry also opens up to a huge number of competing online stores. But, you can build your own place in this growing industry. To help you stand out, sell among others, and increase your conversions, you can test and mix the e-commerce web design tips listed above. See which of them will work best for your online business.

 

May the e-commerce odds be ever in your favor!