“Prediction is difficult, especially if it’s about the future” - Nils Bohr
One of the most significant changes that the retail industry has seen in 2020 was the tremendous growth of e-commerce.
As per the report released by Adobe in June 2020, “E-commerce transactions reached $82.5 billion - a 77 percent increase from 2019”.
If we look at the traditional growth of e-commerce since 1969 when CompuServe was found, 2020 has seen an online push to an unprecedented level globally.
Taylor Schreiner, Director, Adobe Digital Insights, said, “We are seeing signs that online purchasing trends formed during the pandemic may see permanent adoption.”
Customers above the age of 60 have always considered online shopping as unreliable, but, 2020 has made the same an essential practice of all demographics. The last year has taught one thing to everyone that change is inevitable, be it for retailers or consumers. It has been reported that retailers have invested approx. $10 billion in e-commerce from May to July 2020. And customer has also learned to buy products/ services from toilet roll to airplane ticket, in a matter of one click.
Retailers realized that it’s time to adapt or sink and thus made efforts to innovate focusing on customers' needs and experiences. Creating an excellent customer experience was not that easy, it was a complete culture change. Bringing customer out from brick-and-mortar format and developing an eco-system which provide value and enrich the relationship was a challenging task. Being online was also not the solution, the question to ponder upon was, ‘how to make customer overall journey excellent’?
Retailers identified the solution lies somewhere in e-commerce which will help in overcoming the hurdles with sparkling new ideas for successful businesses for the years to come.
Statista has shown an upward trend with no signs of decline in global e-commerce retail sales, “E-commerce businesses should anticipate a 265 percent growth rate, from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.9 trillion in 2021”.
Retailers are creating a channel-rich environment to provide a seamless multi-channel experience by synchronizing the physical and digital world for customer’s paths to purchase.
To connect with future customers, brands are focusing on ‘see, tap, shop’ more productively by giving rise to social selling and allowing sellers to elevate their presence.
Accenture in one of their recent reports shared businesses need to seize the future by understanding the signals of change as “33 percent of customers have ended their relationship to a business with insufficient or no personalization in place”.
Thus, personalized experience is a new expectation of customers in the coming e-commerce world. Customer’s shopping behavior is evolving every day, retailers have to improve the liaison be it physical or online as ‘e-commerce is the key to future’.
Era of Convenience
E-Commerce is growing rapidly, assisted by digital technology and providing convenience to the customer keeping their comfort and safety as the priority. 2020 has made digital transformation forward for daily routine tasks to small/ big businesses making their models amass this new normal.
Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting mentioned, “The demand is getting channelized towards the doorsteps of e-commerce firms as compared to traditional and big-box retailers. As consumers get acquainted with the convenience of online shopping, the propensity of Indian consumers is likely to permanently shift towards buying online.”
This is the age of extreme convenience, where e-commerce is making this possible from the search of a product to the last mile.
This shift to e-commerce is going to sustain as a new normal because businesses have to be upfront in this game of ‘swipe of a thumb’. Changes expected in years have happened in few months, convenience and immediacy are the top customer demands.
Rowan Kisby, Strategy Director at MullenLowe Profero explained, “In 2019 e-commerce accounted for 19.2 percent of total retail spend; the 2020 figure is 27.9 percent, we’ve seen five years of growth in just 12 months”.
Popular trends seen by businesses in the last few months have made the e-commerce boom win a new customer. The future of retail lies in fulfillment and brands should ensure the importance of conscious consumerism keeping price transparency in mind.