Lockdown & Peak: Maximising The eCommerce Opportunity

By Alice Goodwin,

As Ireland enters a level 5 lockdown, retailers across the country are bound to be concerned about the potential impact of another lockdown on sales in what would typically be their busiest quarter.

A second lockdown will have a significant impact on consumer activity over peak, this is something we know for certain. However, retailers with a strong online presence and scalable digital strategy are well positioned to overcome the challenges that a second lockdown face.

However, there’s strong evidence to suggest that retail will be very slow to return to what would be considered a pre-lockdown normal. In some recent research from Google, 46% of consumers stated that they were planning on delaying their return to normal consumer habits due to pandemic-related safety concerns.

Just like businesses, consumers have had to significantly change their usual habits and routines in order to adapt to life in lockdown. Consider your own experiences in lockdown: you’re ordering online more than ever, you’re communicating with friends and family in new ways, and you’re discovering new hobbies to entertain yourself at home.

75% of consumers have tried new ways of shopping during the pandemic, and intend on sticking with them long-term.

The priorities of today’s consumer have changed since the start of the year. A retailer’s online experience, delivery proposition, and pricing model is more important than ever before. Let’s explore some of the reasons why.

Online Experience

Consumers are shopping online more regularly than ever and gaining more experiences of browsing eCommerce sites and purchasing online. This is great news for online retailers. However, it does mean that slow websites and poor consumer experiences are going to be more obvious to what is now a very savvy online consumer.

Ensuring strong site speed, maintaining accurate stock levels and offering a seamless checkout experience is more important than ever before. Consumers are shopping around, and a poor experience is just as likely to drive them into the arms of a competitor as high prices.

Look to where you can get ahead of the competition by offering consumers extra perks. The incoming flux of seasonal shopping is ideal for this. Evaluate your ability to add gift wrapping as an option in the checkout process, or add an option to select a gift receipt to the billing address or via email should a consumer be shipping an order elsewhere. These easy experiences will just make it easier for a consumer to choose you as a retailer.

Delivery Proposition

Web searches that include the term ‘with free delivery’ have increased by 300% YoY. It’s easy to understand why when you consider a consumer’s current situation. Consumers are paying more delivery fees than ever before. Whether that’s for grocery deliveries, takeaways, or clothing & entertainment purchases, online shopping typically comes with a delivery fee and consumers are taking note of the extra impact.

This means that now, more than ever, a free delivery proposition can give you a stronger lead over your competitors than ever before.

Prepare also for the early influx of seasonal shoppers alongside typical Black Friday sale shoppers: it’s likely to be important to confirm with shoppers from the start of November that their orders will be delivered well ahead of Christmas.

Pricing Model

Being the cheapest option isn’t necessarily going to win you the sale anymore. 

Searches for “best affordable” have grown globally by over 60% YoY.

Changes in search such as this are unusual, and indicate that consumers are starting to shop around for the best quality deal within a price range, as opposed to looking for the lowest price available. 

This means that, for retailers, it’s now more important to highlight the benefits of each product and reassure the consumer around the quality of the product and the support they can expect to receive from you as a retailer. This might be messaging around warranty that appears on every relevant product/category page, or highlighting aftercare and support services that you offer.

Simply reacting to demand in the market isn’t enough to truly maximise the online opportunity that currently exists. By understanding the change, anticipating the behaviour and making changes to match the demand, we can appeal to consumers in a more relevant way. By combining this with strong digital campaigns that match fluxes in demand as they happen, you can truly maximise your conversion rate and return on investment in a highly competitive period.

About the author

Alice is our Digital Retail Strategist specialising in working with our clients to deliver growth across our retail division. Coming from an in-house eCommerce background Alice has an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the retail sector. She's passionate about delivering amazing customer support and helping our clients reach their potential.