The future of retail in a post-COVID world
In 2017, e-commerce was approximately 9 percent of all retail sales in the U.S., accounting for $343.5 billion in revenue for the year, projected to reach 12.4 percent by 2020, or just over 1 percent growth year over year. COVID changed everything.
City or state-wide shutdowns, stay at home orders, and other disruptions to business due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced temporary or permanent closure of thousands of mom and pop shops across the country. Even large retail businesses have faced significant setbacks during this year. As the crisis continues, it’s worth taking a look at what the future of retail looks like post-COVID.
Modified In-Store Shopping
While most customers are comfortable shopping online, they still tend to spend more money inside bricks and mortar locations, and sometimes, you just gotta get out of the house. Customers will continue to be cautiously wary out in public for a long time to come. Retail dollars will flow to businesses following health and safety guidelines and offering a variety of hybrid service options for pick-up, shipping, or delivery.
As consumer behavior undergoes a rapid shift towards virtual shopping and services, unsurprisingly, the fastest growth in e-commerce has been happening as more traditional brick and mortar services such as food and beverage began to add online sale options. The most recent U.S. Department of Commerce figures show that in Q2 2020 alone, U.S. e-commerce sales amounted to over $211.5 billion. That’s a huge jump.
A New Age of Shopping & Services
Online shopping has been steadily growing among consumers for years – primarily driven by a wider variety of choices, price points, and 24/7 shopping hours. Sure, total retail sales have taken a hard hit. But the COVID pandemic rocketed e-commerce forward faster than it would have happened naturally, altering some consumer behavior permanently. Well, at least until the next huge paradigm shift comes. The key point? E-commerce websites must function efficiently for online sales.
The 21st Century Business Model
Customers are ruthless when it comes to virtual shopping experiences. They will quickly bolt for the next site or abandon carts, unsubscribe from emails, or go on the attack in reviews or social media if the experience isn’t up to par. It’s the new reality.
All websites must have the right look, feel, messaging, and functionality for its target audience. The fewer steps from product to checkout, the better. The more delivery options, the better. To consumers, this means the site is attractive, optimized for mobile, safe, secure, and fast. Invest now to be sure your e-commerce platform is fast, efficient, secure, and optimized for mobile, and that your product mix and messaging is right for your audience.
Bottom line? Customers are still customers at heart. Even the pandemic can’t change that. Stay abreast of new trends, build on the existing ones, and stay loyal to your company’s brand values and you’ll come out stronger in the post-COVID world.
Alexis Krisay is president of marketing at Serendipit Consulting.