The 2020 pandemic has brought a wave of change in countless ways, including how consumers shop. Extensive lockdowns in Africa and other parts of the world have led to a move from in-person shopping, learning, and meeting to online channels. Along with the move to online shopping, many people are spending less too.
And it makes sense. Our economy was shut down for nearly five weeks in 2020, and its gradual reopening has left many without employment or struggling to make ends meet. Even so, the shopping that is happening is happening online more and more. The drop in spend also indicates a more cautious approach and attitude towards the future, which is to be expected in a time of crisis.
In these times, managing the changes in consumer behaviour and demand is more important than ever. Companies can do this in a number of ways, depending on how their customer behaviour has changed. Ways in which brands and companies can boost their ecommerce could include using social media to connect with consumers, using third-party platforms to increase brand awareness and sales, and investigating in or testing out new forms of digital solutions.
Regardless of your current position, it’s clear that speedy and strategic decision-making is necessary to adapt to the post 2020 shopper’s behaviour and demands. In many cases, your customer demand trajectory may have changed drastically. Supply chain capacity may be affected by lockdowns and limitations in your area. It’s important to consider all these changes in your ecommerce strategy and to make room for more flexibility wherever possible.
Your next steps in strengthening your eCommerce position to bounce back from the pandemic and get better results depend on which category you fall into.
Online sellers whose demand has sharply declined should adapt to survive. Adaptations can include optimising your offerings, ramping up your marketing, and even becoming more flexible. Is there a bottleneck in your online shopper experience, like a checkout process that is difficult to navigate? Is there a way you can evolve your product offering to speak to the consumer’s essential needs? Inspect your process, offering, marketing, and supply chain thoroughly to look for weak points that can be strengthened.
Brands and companies that do not have a website and a digital strategy that includes a strong online presence should make bold moves towards digital. These can include joining relevant social media platforms to advertise and engage with your audience. It can include starting a website, adding your products to Google shopping, and running Google and other social media adverts. It may take a bit of time to set up your shipping, the build of your website, your communication strategy, and adaptations to your supply chain as demand changes, but your choices are to adapt now or fall behind.
If your brand already has a strong online presence and has benefitted from a boom in conversions since the pandemic, it’s important to sustain that. Keep putting effort into your messaging, communication, advertising, and optimisation of everything from product ranges to checkout processes.
According to research, South Africans expect to spend more on groceries through online channels, but less on just about everything else (except alcohol haha). If your products or service don't fall into an “essentials” category, you may already have taken a knock during and after lockdown. It’s best to diversify your offering in order to ride the wave of change sweeping through our world.
Experts predict that online shopping will grow increasingly popular between now and 2023, taking over larger portions of the market share. While South Africans may have been cautious about online shopping at first, 2020 gave us a good push in the right direction.
Research that looked at four retail giants shows that companies who do not adopt new technology and new ways of doing business “trap value”. The research shows that the retailers who adopted eCommerce faster reaped the rewards sooner, while reluctant adopters underperformed compared to their peers.
All companies should constantly evaluate and re-evaluate how to improve their online presence and results by:
Don’t feel daunted by the digital giant that is eCommerce. Our team is experienced, from inception to the viral success of eCommerce businesses and brands. Allow us to pitch to you today and become the key to your eCommerce success.
P.tch has over 15 years’ experience in building and growing eCommerce companies and platforms in South Africa, having worked with brands such as Wantitall.co.za, Netflorsit.co.za, Hairhousewarehouse.co.za, Digital Planet, Hpshop.co.za and many more. If you’re looking for an eCommerce growth and development partner, please contact us.Sources: Reuters; Statista; Accenture; Mckinsey;