The world markets are still recovering from the wounds inflicted by COVID-19. Every sector is getting acclimated to the social distancing norm. At the dawn of 2021, the local and retail businesses are attempting to recover from the last year's damages. It is too soon to dismiss the relevance of the brick-and-mortar stores. However, the patterns suggest the customers would prefer to place orders online.
Some Pre-Covid-19 Stats
Consumers are the most vital link in the global economic chain. According to the estimates released by UNCTAD, the e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion globally in 2018; an 8 percent increase compared to the online-based sales in 2017. It is evident from the data that the world is opening up to buy from online vendors.
A healthy spike in global e-commerce sales is a promising outcome for businesses across the world. The off-shore consumers are now looking at the vendors from the developing economies to buy products. The cross-border online shoppers rose to 23 percent in 2018 compared to 17 percent in 2016 and 2017.
These are the global numbers collectively. The USA alone has registered $8,640 billion worth of e-commerce sales in 2018, followed by Japan ($3280 billion) and China ($2,304 billion)
The Emerging Online Shopping Trends in Developing Countries
The unusual shopping patterns are emerging, considering that the societal trends related to how we work, how we learn, and how we use technology is rapidly changing.
According to the Unicommerce report, there is a 65 percent growth in brands establishing their website. The order volume has increased to 17 percent on the e-commerce platforms in India.
A few years ago, food and personal care were the least preferred purchases online. However, the trend has changed over the years. Most online shoppers place orders to get their food and make-up merchandise delivered to their homes after buying the goods from the online portals.
According to a survey conducted by UNCTAD, in countries like Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Russia, Korea, South Africa, Turkey, etc., the monthly average online spending on food and beverages was down by 11 percent during the lockdown. It was the least affected business during the pandemic and lockdown.
55 percent of Brazilian shoppers prefer shopping online. 68 percent of the Chinese shoppers and 58 percent of Turkish shoppers prefer online shopping over a physical store.
In Asia alone, 1.7 billion shoppers are shopping online. It could reach 60 percent of its population by 2022, according to Solidiance insights.
The internet penetration is increasing worldwide, likewise the demand for the retail stores to get their products on the e-commerce platforms is also increasing. Some of the key trends in consumer experience and the business practices that could influence the E-commerce business are:
Implementation of the Habit Loop - People are easily distracted today. The average attention span has dropped to 8 seconds. It has become a challenge to scout the viewer through the customer path. Implementing a habit loop helps businesses get the buyer's attention. Nir Eyal's HOOKED offers a detailed insight into creating a habit loop for the products. A research by the Duke University in 2006, suggests that more than 40 percent of everyday actions are habitual.
Artificial Intelligence - Artificial Intelligence offers valuable insights into shopper's behavior, buying triggers, search patterns, distractions, etc. Artificial Intelligence is not just to understand the customers but also to develop marketing messages, programmatic advertising for remarketing, and customer support. Often, online shoppers abandon the e-commerce platform because the products offered are irrelevant. With AI, online stores can offer contextualized results to the buyers and improve their shopping experience. The AI-powered chatbots provide a personalized experience to the buyers. It addresses the customer's issues and makes necessary escalations by analyzing the customer's emotions.
Omnichannel Presence - The Business Insider's research report in 2016 indicated that the platforms that engage with the buyers across ten or more channels have 47 percent more purchases than those who are limited to four or fewer channels - distributing the branding eggs in more than one basket. The omnipresence of the business offers valuable data to the businesses that help them deploy a marketing strategy that communicates best with their ideal customers.
A Dynamic Supply Chain - The marketing uncertainties are forcing the organizations to do more with less. Couple this with the customer's changing preferences, the expectations mismatch is a likely occurrence. The focus has shifted from value addition to the business to deliver value to the customers. Align the business and customer strategies with the supply chain. Fulfill customer requirements by synchronizing customer requirements. Hyper segment the customer portfolios to ideate, source, produce and deliver in a heterogeneous model. The business and customer strategies also offer insights into the supply chain risks. Re-asses the supply chain risks and define the supplier relationships to the market demand. Cost should not be the only criterion to select the supplier - onboard the supplier, emphasizing transparency and sustainability and risk analysis.
The rapid change of pace in the post-pandemic environment demands e-commerce and retail suppliers to reassess their strategies. The businesses have a lot of ground to cover and time is of the essence. Establishing a customized system backed with the insights will help the companies enhance their customer experience with the trends mentioned above. The E-commerce platforms should have a cross-functional team to lead the strategies into execution and develop the path forward, assessing the risks. It is difficult to determine the next normal but not impossible.