We survived COVID-19, now what? Impact on e-commerce

After having spent more than a month in confinement, we all dream of the day when everything will go back to the way it was and we can resume our not so old habits. However, it is more realistic to think that COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV-2, the bug's real name) is here to stay and that, after this first devastating wave, the entire population will have to continue to be extremely responsible and we will suffer the consequences of this pandemic for longer than we would like. We are still living one of those moments in history when the foundations of our society are shaken and we are experiencing profound changes that will prevent us from returning to where we were just a few weeks ago.
This first month of confinement is forcing us to adapt new habits and customs that we will maintain once the state of alarm is lifted, habits that are going to leave sequels in multiple aspects of our lives. In this post we are going to focus on everything related to the new shopping habits, otherwise it would become too long 😛.

Change of habits

One of the first pieces of news that hit us all hard was the news that we would only be able to set foot on the street to buy basic necessities. Upon hearing the news, we all rushed to loot the supermarkets as if we had seen the four horsemen of the apocalypse arrive. Once we got over the first moment of panic (fear is very powerful and completely irrational), we gradually adapted to the new situation and discovered that these small incursions into the street in search of food, medicine, etc., were anything but pleasant. was anything but pleasant: lines surrounding the supermarkets with people more than 1.5 meters away dressed from top to bottom with gloves and masks, security measures to access the premises, solitary shoppers fleeing from anyone who invades their personal space... measures that are completely justified and that we must respect, but that make shopping almost traumatic.
Whether it's because of fear of contagion or because shopping in physical stores has become a very strange experience, we see things like this:
google trends buy food online
It is a very generic search term, but it shows very clearly what the trend was during the first days of confinement. Since it is such a non-specific term, it is likely that the users who searched for it are users who are not used to online shopping and, probably, these users started to make more specific searches once they found pages and resources that fit their needs. Therefore, first and great change of habits: users not used to online shopping discover this world so close at hand.
But this change does not stop here: during the last two weeks of March, we were not sure if the rest of the e-commerce dedicated to the sale of non-essential products would continue to operate normally. This uncertainty took its toll on these e-commerce (you can find more information at our post), but once the doubt was cleared and, seeing that the orders were placed and arrived relatively normally, we found the second big change of habits: buying everything we need or want in online stores. Has your washing machine broken and you can't go to your usual store? You can buy it online. Have you been thinking about changing your laptop for a long time and now that you are teleworking you can't put it off any longer? You can buy it online. Do you have young children at home and want a new board game for family fun? You can buy it online!

Think global, act local

E-commerce is there to meet your needs and now has more prominence than ever. This situation is causing many SMEs and local businesses that saw the online channel as nothing more than a complement or did not even consider working that channel, have woken up overnight and now consider it their priority (and if not, I don't know what they are waiting for). While many companies, both large and small, are keeping their productivity levels at bay thanks to the option to telecommute, many businesses are going digital so as not to be left behind and remain part of the game. Even Google is thinking about these businesses by promoting programs such as being able to advertise on Google Shopping for free (more information at this post). And this would be the third major change: (forced) digitization of small businesses.

And after that, what?

The post-coronavirus world will be an even more digitized world in which the battle to get users to choose us will be even fiercer and fiercer: let's not forget that a large part of the population does not have the purchasing power it had before the pandemic, and that the longer the confinement lasts, the longer and harder the economic crisis the country will face. In these circumstances, these factors will be key:

  • Price: the price war will continue to be something that e-commerce will have to live with. Excessive stock in warehouses together with a society that is going to look at price with a magnifying glass, will force stores to have competitive and attractive products.
  • Loyalty: with so many new players on the board, it will be more difficult to get your shoppers to be loyal and make recurring purchases in the same store. Therefore, establishing a good loyalty strategy will be mandatory.
  • Omnichannel: it is more important than ever to attract and retain users, so we cannot forget the power of working several channels at the same time, building a powerful brand image and aiming to be more in touch with our users: social networks, email marketing, physical stores, SEO, SEM are some of the examples of channels that should be perfectly coordinated and work as one.

Cooperation

I would like to end this post on a more positive note. The truth is that this extreme situation we are living is also bringing out the best in us in many aspects: solidarity and cooperation are the order of the day. We sing happy birthday to our smallest neighbors, we applaud the workers who continue to work day after day, we offer to help our elders to do the shopping... As an example, more and more solidarity platforms are emerging through which neighbors of the same city lend themselves to help those who need it or try to bring neighborhood stores that do not have a website to their regular customers. In Burgos, for example, we have the example of Burgos at home, where users have the option to shop at their favorite store without having to travel. One thing is clear: this pandemic will leave a mark that will be hard to erase for an entire generation, but we can always find a ray of light in the midst of the darkness.

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