Even before 2020, online shopping was rapidly increasing. People love the convenience and ease of the internet. Really, we use it for everything from talking with friends to ordering dinner on a Friday night. We get rides from strangers around town and watch movies online instead of in theaters. We shop for everything from groceries to cars.

Simply put, companies today must have a simple and convenient online shopping experience to stay competitive.

Online shopping is not slowing down

Pre-COVID-19, online shopping was trending up. Americans have always been great consumers, and online shopping made that even easier. It created a world where anyone with internet could find anything they need. As a bonus, you could have it delivered straight to your door.

As technology advanced, the rare event of making a purchase online became normal. It was no longer just special items that you couldn’t find at a local store. In 2019, 14% of global retail sales were online. The same year, physical store closures reached an all-time high. Malls, department stores, and retail giants were closing brick-and-mortar locations quickly.

Keep in mind, that change was happening before 2020 upended retail forever. In fact, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, brought in $88 billion in gross revenue in 2015. By 2018, that was up to $232 billion. That’s a growth rate of around 30% year-over-year.

The pandemic definitely sped it up though. (They had $386 billion in gross revenue in 2020.) As McKinsey says, we covered a “decade in days” in terms of digital adoption, and online shopping is one area where consumers probably won’t look back.

Shoppers want convenience and value

Over the past year, the most successful companies had online shopping. They either built on an existing model or could rapidly shift sales online. Companies without the tools to sell online struggled as consumers couldn’t shop in stores or were too afraid to do so. If your company hasn’t already created an online shopping experience, now is the time.

Retailers that can meet consumer expectations for convenience and value will capture a larger share of online sales in the years ahead. Technology trends are also providing added convenience and value to consumers through:

  • Augmented reality (AR) to personalize the shopping experience. For example, companies allow you to “try on” glasses before you buy them using your phone camera.
  • Voice search to explore the web without ever picking up your phone or computer.
  • Mobile and app-based shopping that make it easy to browse and buy with just a few clicks from anywhere in the world.
  • Simple payment processes. Apple Pay, PayPal and other third parties allow you to shop securely on any site. There’s no need to enter your personal or credit card information.
  • Personalized shopping experiences that use your past history to predict what you want. Then they help you find it online.

Customers’ experience comes first

Some of the most iconic retailers understand that when someone enters their retail stores, they want to do more than just buy something. They want an experience.

For example, Lush allows customers to try out bath bombs, lotions, face masks, and more while they shop. This creates an air of luxury and relaxation. And Tiffany & Co., which first opened in 1837, reinvented its in-store experience in 2018. They launched an interactive Style Studio with great success, focusing on creativity and “self-expression.”

It might seem hard to provide the same type of experience online. But companies that are willing to be imaginative and adapt to the landscape are the ones most likely to succeed.

You can create that experience by:

  • Having a simple and functional online shopping site.
  • Offering plenty of photos and videos of products.
  • Providing secure, easy, and diverse ways to pay online.
  • Offering free or low-cost shipping.
  • Prioritizing customer service over almost everything else.
  • Offering live chat, email, and phone contact options.
  • Requesting feedback and reviews to help others feel confident when they purchase.

Marketing consultants can help you get started

When you’re ready to improve your eCommerce offerings, a marketing consultant can help. EXTEND GROUP specializes in business transformation. We can help transform yours. Contact us today to discuss your goals and learn how we can help you reach them.