We are now six months into a pandemic that no one could have imagined in their worst nightmare. The coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. While it has had a devastating effect on our economy, one of the biggest changes we have noticed is the uptick in consumers who have shifted their shopping and purchasing habits from brick and mortar stores to online eCommerce sites.
Consumers are more likely than ever to shop and pay online, not only for retail goods such as clothing but even groceries and food orders from restaurants and delivery services like Uber Eats. Even purchases made at local grocery stores and restaurants are completed differently as many merchants have rapidly shifted to curbside delivery to minimize their customers’ exposure to strangers. This includes paying for orders before the customer arrives to pick up their purchases at the curb.
If you are wondering just how big that purchasing shift actually is, it is estimated that half of all consumers say they have switched from shopping in stores to shopping online, with an estimated 114 million U.S. adults now purchasing food, groceries and other retail items online. These folks have firmly indicated in those surveys that when the pandemic comes to an end, they have no plans to return to shopping in person after experiencing the convenience of having everything from air-conditioner filters to dinner delivered to their door step. That does not mean total doom and gloom for retailers. Rather, it means merchants must shift how they do business and build trust and confidence in conducting business online.
Customers are loving their online shopping experiences. Merchants must now focus on grabbing consumers’ attention and trust in order to survive and thrive in this new digital economy. But how can retailers stand out from the crowd and build that trust? Research shows that merchants must use visual and social cues that lure consumers in while projecting a professional website image that instills confidence in the site. Websites that are not professionally created likely will not instill the type of confidence needed to enter a credit card number into a shopping cart purchase. Image is indeed everything. Don’t scrimp on your website design. Hire a professional if you don’t have the experience and make the transaction experience a smooth one. We can help you with that.
Twenty percent of consumers surveyed say they prefer to shop from companies and sites they have heard of before. They love name-brand digital wallets such as Apple Pay, American Express or Google Pay for making purchases. Associating with well-known brands does lend credibility and trust to your site. Customers also want sites that are visually appealing and easy to use.
Other things that are important to earning repeat business is how you handle post-sale business including providing regular status updates that include an email acknowledging orders, emails notifying a customer their order has shipped and of course, timely delivery. It is also important to remember that customers still want human customer service that is easy to access. They are looking for purchases to be simple and enjoyable with an easy payment process.