The Path

The New Normal: COVID-19 Digital Adoption is Here to Stay

Tips on How to Stay Relevant with Your Direct-to-Consumer Strategy   

Since the onset of COVID-19, perceptions and concerns are changing as economies open up and people yearn to get back to normal life. However, new consumer behaviors formed during the pandemic are creating a new normal.  

One of the largest behavioral changes that has accelerated the shift to digital is consumers relying on online channels while social distancing. Brands that have adopted and doubled down on their direct-to-consumer initiatives have seen unprecedented growth. ¹ 

US ecommerce sales growth is predicted to surge to 18.0% this year, the highest on record since 2008. ²

Looking to the latter half of 2020 and beyond, companies should invest in their direct-to-consumer strategies with the following strategies: 

Customer Experience 

Remaining consumer-centric is key and companies should focus on improving the customer experience online through communications plans and digital strategies. 

Ensure your messaging and communications plans are addressing customer needs and concerns. Be empathetic and genuine and distribute the content in a way that’s easy to find on your owned channels - like your website, email and social media. Make sure your marketing and customer service teams are in lockstep with one another to communicate a consistent message across the customer journey. 

Leverage consumer insights. The pandemic has shown, perhaps more than ever, the importance of brands knowing their customers. For example, Michigan-based floorcare company Bissell has benefited from leveraging consumer insights to make informed business decisions. When the company launched on Tmall, information from the Ecommerce platform’s analytics services helped the brand to target consumers based on search interests and related shopping behaviors, as opposed to the more conventional age-and-gender approach. Even in out-of-stock situations, the robust product-recommendation algorithm allowed the brand to retain sales by recommending alternative products. ³

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Contactless payments

Consumers are embracing contactless payment options, with 40% stating that they are more willing to do business with stores that offer contactless payment options. ⁴

Contactless payment options include: 

  • Shift to digital commerce 
  • Digital wallet adoption 
  • Buy online, pick up in store 
  • Pay by phone and deliver 
  • Mobile payment 
  • Smart checkout 

Offering one or more of these payment options will help you serve your customers and address their needs. Consider generational or geographical differences to ensure that you are tailored to all customers needs, and be cognizant of other payment contact touchpoints such as a keypad entry. 

Blend digital with physical 

Consumers want a seamless transition in their commerce journey. Studies show that consumers are hesitant to shop in stores until a vaccine is found and value signals like mask wearing, gloves and cleanliness to ease discomfort. ⁴ A hybrid model of in-store and digital will last longer as consumers are ready to get back to brick-and-mortar while remaining cautious. Some ways to integrate digital and in-store experience include: 

  • Offering contactless curbside and in-store pickup and/or return options 
  • Incorporating AR and VR to help consumer visualize products in their living space 
  • Providing virtual consultants or sales representatives to facilitate customer purchases and help answer questions 
  • Creating compelling content like videos to easily communicate your brand messaging and share how-to’s like installation, how it works, etc. 

The New Normal 

Now more than ever, technology has been interwoven with our lives and commerce. Although the rapid growth of Ecommerce over the last few months may not continue at the same pace, the behavioral changes established during the pandemic will likely impact the retail landscape for years to come. 

Sources: 

¹ https://www.roirevolution.com/blog/2020/06/coronavirus-and-ecommerce/

² https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-ecommerce-2020

³ https://www.alizila.com/how-brands-have-embraced-digital-transformation-during-covid-19/

⁴ Gartner Consumer Pandemic Attitudes and Behaviors Survey

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