The sun is up, the sky is blue, and consumers are peeking out of their homes, ready to engage with the physical retail landscape once again. After more than a year of restrictions and lockdowns, brick-and-mortar retailers are starting to reap the benefits of post-pandemic reopenings.
But what about digital brands? During the pandemic, ecommerce saw unprecedented growth: In the U.S., consumer spending in ecommerce channels grew by 44% to $861.12 billion by the end of 2020. Online spending took up 21.3% of all retail sales, growing its share of the pie by more than 5% in the span of a year.
But times are changing, and post-pandemic reopenings are poised to return some of the power back to in-store retailers. So, how can ecommerce brands keep up? The answer is a mix of convenience and experience, requiring the kind of consumer insight that digital brands have long relied on.
What to Expect From Post-COVID Consumers
The defining trait of post-COVID consumers is a desire to try new things. According to a survey of CMOs, 84.8% have observed an increase in openness toward digital retail and products throughout lockdown.
Shoppers are also doing more research online, looking for deals and savings along with reviews and insights on the products they want to buy. In fact, a digital brand might see the era of post-pandemic reopenings as a more even playing field. Consumers were more or less forced to rely on digital brands and ecommerce during COVID, giving them a chance to build up trust in their channel.
Becoming a thought leader in your field and publishing a robust collection of content that will help curious buyers make their decisions will add to this feeling of trust. Your customers will keep turning to you when they need information, leading to future sales. A 2020 survey found that 49% of B2B decision-makers said thought leadership was effective in influencing their purchasing decisions.
For more on how to become a thought leader:
Putting the Experience Back Into Experiential Shopping
Let’s face it: There was nothing worse for pop-ups and experiential shopping than a global pandemic. A response to consumers wanting a more intimate in-store experience, experiential shopping was dealt a mortal blow by lockdowns and quarantine.
Now that post-pandemic reopenings have tweaked the rules back in favor of in-store shopping, digital brands can resume using pop-ups and experiential events as a way to connect with consumers in the real world.
Many of the best practices surrounding experiential retail have changed, however. Some companies are taking their pop-up experiences to smaller, calmer neighborhoods out of city centers to further allay consumer safety fears. Digital brands also learned to turn their online spaces into experiential retail channels, showcasing their products in “virtual stalls” on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
For more on experiential shopping after COVID:
Make Your Mark on the Post-COVID Scene
Succeeding in ecommerce is no longer optional. As a channel that raked in more than 20% of retail sales in 2020, differentiating your brand in the space is key. Take some time to review what your best customers like about your brand, using platforms like AdRoll to target your most engaged fans.
Then, try to capitalize on some of the biggest trends in post-pandemic retail. Consumers are more attracted to convenience than ever before — according to a Linnworks survey, 76% said it’s a key factor when deciding which retailer will get their hard-earned dollars.
About 90% said that they prioritize retail sites with a seamless experience. For online retailers, this means more delivery options and flexible payment methods to help speed up the buying process. In the same survey, 67% of shoppers said they had abandoned carts due to a complicated purchase process, so make sure your checkout standards are up to snuff. If you’re using experiential pop-ups to differentiate your brand, add touchless payment options for the in-store crowd.
Augmented and virtual reality showcases can also help your ecommerce brand stand out during the coming post-pandemic reopenings. More than 93.3 million consumers in the U.S. are expected to use augmented reality features on a monthly basis in 2021. In this way, you can be there for the consumers who may be less willing to go inside a store but still want to see your product in a physical space before purchasing.
No matter what you do in-store or online, successfully marketing your products and services is going to be paramount to success after COVID-19. Platforms like AdRoll can help your online brand adjust to the new realities of post-pandemic retail.
Last updated on November 1st, 2022.